Soccer – What is Fast?

 

Soccer Specific Speed

Everyone knows sprinting is an important part of performance in soccer, but it doesn’t take an English Premier League coach to see that other things like quickness, agility, and change of direction are important parts of game speed.

Today, with combinations of GPS and video tracking we have more information than ever about the movement demands of soccer players. At Velocity, we look at data from around the world, in different leagues and levels of competition. We know everything from how many runs players make at different speeds to how often they change direction.

What does it tell us? The game keeps getting faster every decade. It also gets faster as you move up each level, so if you want to compete you’d better be fast.

Sprinting

During a match, a professional player makes between 30 – 40 sprints.  We’re not talking about a 100m dash; these sprints range from  1 – 4 seconds over distances of 3 – 39 yards.

Sprinting has two main components: acceleration and maximum (or max) velocity. Acceleration is speeding up rapidly, and maximum velocity is sprinting over ~75% of full speed. Since the sprints can reach 39 yards, and this is far beyond the distance even the best payers can accelerate, we know that soccer players need both.
We know the technique needed for acceleration and for max velocity are very different. The two most apparent differences between acceleration sprint mechanics and max velocity sprint mechanics are body angle and leg action. Soccer players need to develop both movement skills to be exceptional.

Agility

While sprinting speed is very important, soccer isn’t a track meet. It’s not a linear game and elite players display incredible agility. Agility can be broken down into two key components: quickness and change of direction.

Sprinting speed is great, but if you can’t change direction, you’re going to get burned.

Quickness

Lightning fast movements in 1-2 steps can make all the difference in reacting to an opponent or leaving one on the ground.

Change of Direction

The game isn’t linear; it constantly changes direction. A player who can change direction in fewer steps and faster than the opposition has an advantage.

Fast on the Field

So to play your best game, you need several kinds of speed. Players will usually be better at one part or another, but you can’t afford any glaring holes.  As an elite player you need:

  • Acceleration
  • Maximum Velocity
  • Quickness
  • Change of Direction

You don’t have to leave this to chance, nor should you. While you may need the right genetics to be the fastest in the world at any of these, through training you can improve – at anything. Improve both your physical attributes and your motor control and you’ll be faster.  Speed is a skill, and like any skill it can be taught.

 

3 Secrets to Quickly Improve Your Hockey Training

Yo and Steve Nash

Hockey players know that they while they need superior hockey skills on the ice, they also need to work off the ice to keep up with the competition. You can use your off-ice training time more effectively by adding these three steps to quickly get ahead of others.

Strength and Stability on One Leg

Part of developing athletic strength is the ability to apply force the same way you do in your sport. For hockey, that means you need to be able to explosively push-off of a single leg, stabilizing the hip and core as you do it. While common strength training like squats and deadlifts are a great start, they are bi-lateral exercises (they use both legs).  A great way to take your results to a higher level is to add some uni-lateral (single leg) exercises.

Training on a single leg might not let you lifts as much weight, but it will certainly lead to high levels of muscle activation while adding balance and stability to the mix.  Some ways to add single leg strengthening to your mix could include:

  • Single Leg RDL: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
  • Bulgarian Split Squat: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg
  • Lateral Box Step Up: 3-6 reps x 3-5 sets per leg

Build Your Power Through Plyometrics

While basic strength training builds a foundation, you need to develop power to be more explosive on the ice. Power is the combination of strength applied with speed.  Olympic lifting and plyometric exercises are two great ways that both develop strength and speed.

One of the advantages of plyometrics is that they can be performed on a single leg to work on stability and balance at the same time. They also can be done focusing on movement in vertical, horizontal, lateral, and diagonal directions.  These are all things that build a better hockey player.

The list of potential exercises is long and includes any form of jumping, bounding, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. A few suggestions are:

  • Squat Jump or Box Jump: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
  • Lateral Jumps or Split Jumps: 3 sets x 5-8 reps per leg
  • Hurdle Hops: 3 sets x 3-8 hurdles (line them up in a row)
  • Clap Push-Ups: 3-5 sets x 5 reps
  • Kneeling Med Ball Chest Passes: 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps

Train Your Core to Transmit Power

Most hockey players recognize that a strong and stable core is important for performance and preventing injuries. Unfortunately, the majority of training time is spent on crunches, sit-ups, and a long list of their variations.

There can be a place for these in training, but excessive use can actually stress the spine more and create imbalances, all while ignoring key functions of the core. We have to understand that the core isn’t designed to create and initiate diagonal or rotational movement; its key function in hockey is transmitting forces from the lower body and stabilization so you can use your upper body.

Think of both resisting movement through the core as well as making it move. Then think of training in all directions. A few suggestions could include:

  • Pallof press: 8-15 reps x 3
  • Diagonal Cable Chop/lift: 8-15 reps x 3 per side
  • Sit-Ups: 10-15 reps x 3
  • Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: 5-10 reps x 3 per side
  • Side Plank: :30-:45 sec x 3 per side

Athletes need resiliency; here’s how to build it

One of the traits of legendary athletes is that they usually had to overcome multiple obstacles along the way. That ability to overcome setbacks is part of the trait we call resiliency. As a parent or coach, you can take steps to help athletes develop this quality. After all, you know they will need it eventually.

What Is Resilience

Resilience is not about avoiding obstacles, it’s about what we do when they happen.  It’s that ability to bounce back when there is a setback.  Challenges in an athlete’s path will cause feelings that are uncomfortable, stressful and can be painful, but to be successful they must continue to move forward.

Some of the attributes you’ll see in an athlete who is resilient include:

  • Heightened problem-solving approach to obstacles
  • An ability to bounce back after setback
  • A generally positive outlook on life
  • An ability to manage strong emotions and stress with a clear mind

Resiliency doesn’t have to be left to chance.  It is a trait that can be nurtured. Parents and coaches can help athletes with key steps in developing resiliency.

How to Help Athletes Build Resilience

As a coach or parent, you are often in a position to help frame how the athlete approaches a problem.  While it is something the athlete must experience and deal with personally, those around them can help them explore how they view the setback.

Start in the Past

Revisiting past experiences can be a good place to start.  This can be used to show the athlete where they have previously navigated obstacles before them.  This can positively impact how they interpret the uncomfortable feelings they may be experiencing and envision a way past them.

Ask: What challenges have I overcome in the past?  Finding past success can help lead to a positive outlook and show a path to forward.  Past experience might also provide insight into the strategies that helped.

Ask: Where do you get support and success from?  Most athletes will have someone or somewhere they turn for help.  Can they build on this more and focus on their potential sources of strength instead of an obstacle or perceived weakness?

AskWhat makes you feel energized and optimistic?  It may be connecting with a specific person, going for a run, or playing a game. The key is to find a way to see the bigger picture, so you’re less overwhelmed with the details of a stressful situation.

Build Toward the Future

Along with looking for past success and creating a positive framework, athletes need to develop the skills to deal with obstacles when they occur.  Daily habits can fuel someone’s resilience and are opportunities to build skills, before bigger problems arise.

Nurture strong bonds.  Having a sense of community and support from family, friends and team members can create a stable foundation they need if a problem arises.

Focusing on solutions.  Problem solving is a trait that can be practiced daily.  It’s a lot easier to focus on solving a big problem, when you’ve been practicing this mindset on lots of small problems along the way.

Focus on small goals. When an athlete has big dreams and goals it can be inspiring and fuel them.  However, when things get hard or go wrong those same big goals can start to make it seem impossible.  Adding smaller manageable steps along the way can assist an athlete having a proactive outlook, instead of one of being a victim.

Resiliency for Success

Resiliency is a trait we appreciate in athletes in part because, we all know overcoming obstacles is part of life.  Whether it’s sport, school, career, or relationships, life will throw some road bumps in the way.  The resiliency to get back up and overcome setbacks is always a key to success.

 

3 Effective exercises to make you explosive without a barbell

exercises for explosiveness

 

3 Effective exercises to make you explosive without a barbell

Athletes need power, which means a combination of strength & speed.  The reason Olympic lifts are so popular among elite athletes around the world is that they are really effective.  However, what if you don’t have a barbell and bumper plates, or no coach to teach you the technique?

While Olympic lifts are great, they aren’t the only way to train your explosiveness.  Here are 3 exercises that are really effective and don’t require the barbell.  You still need to use good form; it just may be a bit easier to get it even without a coach.

Standing Broad Jump

There is nothing new about this one, but it’s been around a long time for a reason.  Like any jumping exercise it combines the speed of rapid muscle contraction, with the application of large forces into the ground.  It also takes coordination through multiple joints in the body.  That’s a great recipe for athletes wanting to improve explosiveness.

Using a rapid counter-movement, you put the muscles around the hips, knees and ankles on stretch, then explosively contract them to get full extension in all 3 joints.  This “triple extension” action is key in many sports and why this exercise pays dividends.

An important added benefit is in the landing.  By focusing on landing soft and balanced, you are training explosive deceleration.  That’s the ability to absorb forces rapidly and it’s critical in most sports.  Its also a huge help in preventing injury.

Jumping on turf or grass surface.

3-5 sets

3-5 jumps

Skater Jumps

Another tried and true favorite, skater jumps have all the advantages of the standing broad jump, while adding a lateral movement component as well.    These might have you looking like a hockey player jump sideways from one foot to the other, but they benefit athletes in so many sports.

In addition to generating explosiveness in the take-off leg and eccentric power in the landing leg, they are really functional.  Functional, because you’ve added the challenge of moving on a single leg.  This is needed in so many sports.

Add in the the lateral movement and you are really working on all the stabilizers of the hip and some aspects pf balance.  All combined, these are things almost every athlete needs.

Jumping on turf or grass surface.

3-5 sets

3-5 jumps on each leg

Depth Jumps

Not for the beginner, depth jumps are an intense plyometric exercise guaranteed to stress your body.  That stress, when done in small doses, can have a big impact on increasing strength and power.  This is the plyo exercise where you step off a box, land and then go right into another explosive jump.

The benefits in this jumping drill are magnified because of the step off the box.  Dropping from a height lets gravity accelerate you towards the ground.  When your feet make contact all the involved joints and muscles must absorb and then generate even higher forces.  To protect yourself, the body is going to do this reflexively and you’ll put more force into the jump that immediate follows.  The key is to not overdo it.

Jump from a box 12-36” high

2-5 sets

2-4 jumps.

No Barbell, No Problem

While Olympic lifts and their variations are great for athletes wanting to build power, they may not be possible for everyone.  These 3 classic exercises have been proven for decades to help athletes improve their power.  They are also a great addition when you can do Olympic lifts.  Give them a try and see some gains.

Research Proves How Strength Can Make You Faster

agility

 

Research Proves How Strength Can Make You Faster

Research from the worlds leading sport scientists at places like Harvard University and SMU’s Locomotor Performance Laboratory have shown that faster sprinters are able to apply more force to the ground. They’ve proven that if you want to maximize your speed, you need the strength to apply big forces to the ground quickly.

The Velocity Speed Formula has 4 main components and two of those are BIG FORCE and SMALL TIME. In multiple studies over the last decade, researchers have confirmed that these 2 components of the Speed Formula are a big difference between faster and slower sprinters.

To propel your body forward, and to keep you upright, your leg has to produce a lot of force into the ground on each step. That’s what builds your momentum during acceleration phases and keeps it going during your full speed sprinting.

You create that big force, by first getting your leg up into the right position on each stride. Picture a sprinter with their front thigh up high, about parallel with the ground. Then you use the explosive strength in your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings to generate power and drive your foot down into the ground.

Your speed dictates why the big force you generated has to be applied in a small time. Think about. As you sprint faster, your body is moving over that piece of ground your foot hit faster. The faster you sprint; the less time your foot is in contact with the ground. That’s just simple physics.

Now let’s combine that big force with the small time. This is the hard part, and where some athletes fail. You need the explosive strength to get the leg attacking down at the ground as hard as possible AND you need the reactive strength to apply it efficiently and quickly.

When your foot hits the ground, it’s driving down with a lot of power. There’s only 90-150 milliseconds of time to get all that force into the ground. Your ankle, knee or hip all have to stay “stiff” enough to apply the force and not bend or absorb it.

This doesn’t mean stiff as in lack of flexibility. It means that the muscles and tendons in your lower body can hit the ground and deliver all your power without stretching or relaxing. An analogy to help visualize this is to picture 2 bouncing balls. One is a bouncy, superball made of a “stiff” rubber. The other is more like a beach ball and soft. Which one bounces higher when it hits the ground?

The stiffer superball does because it applies the force to the ground and stores elastic energy. The beach ball absorbs some of the force and doesn’t have the eastic energy to rebound. That’s like reactive strength. Your muscles and tendons don’t relax and absorb the force. They store elastic energy and use it to help you go faster.

To generate a big force with your lower leg you will need explosive strength and to apply it you need reactive strength. The good news is that research has also shown that getting stronger correlates with getting faster. You can develop these specific strength qualities by working in the weightroom using Olympic lifts, doing plyometrics properly, and learning the optimum mechanics for sprinting.

The Velocity Speed Formula is built on science and proven in sport. The research is starting to catch up and show why we can help you get faster.

Selected References
Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements
Weyand, et. al , J Appl Physiol 89: 1991–1999, 2000.
Are running speeds maximized with simple-spring stance mechanics?
Kenneth P. Clark, Peter G. Weyand, Journal of Applied Physiology Published 31 July 2014
Relationships Between Ground Reaction Impulse and Sprint Acceleration Performance in Team Sport Athletes, Kawamori, et. al, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(3), April 2012
Increases in lower-body strength transfer positively to sprint performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis, Seitz, et. al., Sports Med. 2014 Dec;44(12):1693-702

 

Discover 4 Types of Regen You Need To Know

how do you recover image

 

Discover 4 Types of Regen You Need To Know

Athletes from pros through weekend warriors have recognized the importance of using regeneration techniques to recover faster, feel better, and train harder. However, with all the different options to choose from, it’s hard to know which one works best.

The first thing to remember is that everything isn’t for everyone all of the time. So, when someone asks “what kind of regen tool is best?” the answer is, it depends.

Here’s what you need to understand to get more benefit from your regen strategies.

Regen works by helping your body through it’s natural processes of returning to a state of internal balance. Training, competition, injury, and even life, are all stresses that add up and push your systems out of balance. Regen means something to help bring you back into balance.

Returning the body to a state of equilibrium after stress requires you to address the specific type of stress you just endured. This is where a lot of regen plans and techniques fall apart. If you don’t target the right type of stress or systems in the body, the regen you try won’t make a difference. It’s like putting more insulation on a house when the real problem is a hole in the roof.

The Velocity regen methodology was developed for the world’s elite athletes – to keep them at their best under enormous pressure. One of the foundations of is that there are 4 big categories of stress. We classify them as:

• Tissue
• Physiological
• Mindset
• Neuromuscular

Tissue
This is physical damage to your tendons, muscles, bones, and joints caused from contact, pressure, and tension in sports. It might be microscopic, but it takes a toll. Repeated foot strikes while running, repetitive tendon stress on a pitcher’s elbow, or contusions and damage from collisions in rugby, football, or MMA are exactly the kinds of things that add up to potential or actual injury. Tissues need to heal properly on the microscopic level after each practice or competition.

Physiological
When you are putting in long hours of training, doing high intensity MetCons, or logging long distances, there’s a large metabolic and biochemical demand on your system. The numerous physiological elements all need to be returned to normal and metabolic wastes need to be removed.

Mindset
Whether it comes from sport or life, mental and emotional stresses have an impact on both mind and body. It can come from from emotional challenges, learning new tasks, or just intense focus for practice and competition. Our bodies’ physical recovery mechanisms are tied to our mental state. States of mental stress and anxiety trigger particular functions of our nervous system and release stress hormones. While these can be useful during competition or training, they inhibit or even completely block natural recovery mechanisms. Therefore, in order to achieve physical recovery, the mind must be in a state of relaxation.

Neuromuscular
Often overlooked, neuromuscular fatigue doesn’t necessarily make you feel tired in the way you might think. Instead of feeling stiff, sore, or a generally fatigued, you just might lose that “snap” in your movement. When you perform high power exercises like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting, you stress the nervous system as well as your muscles. Until you recover, you won’t be able to fire them at full speed or intensity.

Make your regen specific
Knowing that all regeneration methods aren’t the same or equal is the first step towards getting it right. Make sure you know the specific type of regen you need at different stages of training and even different days of the week to make to make your recovery process better.

At Velocity, our coaching and sports medicine staff can help you decide which combination of regen and recovery tools you need to help you stay at your best.

BE A SUPER BALL TO SPRINT FASTER

volleyball

 

BE A SUPERBALL TO SPRINT FASTER

If you want to be fast, it’s better to be a superball than a beach ball. It’s physics.

Visualize this by picturing 2 bouncing balls in your mind. One is a bouncy, superball made of a “stiff” rubber. The other is more like a beach ball and soft.

Which one bounces higher when it hits the ground?

The stiffer superball does because it applies the force to the ground and stores elastic energy. The beach ball absorbs some of the force and doesn’t have the elastic energy to rebound.

That’s like the reactive strength you need to sprint fast. If you’re stronger, then your muscles and tendons don’t relax or absorb the force. Instead, they store elastic energy, and use it to help you go faster.

This is important because the faster you go, the less time your foot can be in contact with the ground. Being like a superball helps you to achieve two parts of the Velocity Speed Formula; Big Force and Small Time.

To become more like a superball you need to develop specific strength qualities including Rate of Force Development and Reactive strength. Both of these should be developed both in the weight room and on the track or field.

Olympic lifts from a “hang” start position help develop that rate of force development. Muscle and tendon stiffness contribute to your reactive strength and need basic levels of maximum strength through squatting, deadlifting and lunging.

Plyometrics with a short ground contact are a way of developing both RFD and Reactive strength. You also develop this type of strength by doing sprint drills at high speeds.

If you want to be faster, be more like a superball. Get in the weight room and out on the track and to become stronger.

30 BIG REASONS NOT TO SPECIALIZE EARLY. FROM THE NFL.

youth training and specialization

 

30 BIG REASONS NOT TO SPECIALIZE EARLY. FROM THE NFL.

30 Big Reasons Not to Specialize Early. From the NFL

The debate over specializing in a single sport at an early age, isn’t a debate. The ones who think you should specialize in one sport are parents who mean well but, who are uninformed.

The 2017 NFL draft just helped reinforce that fact.

In the 2017 NFL draft, teams put their money behind multi-sport athletes, showing that the idea of young athletes giving up other sports to just play football was a bad idea. Take a look at the numbers;
• 30 of the 32 players were multi-sport athletes in high school.
• All of the top 20 played at least 2 sports.
• 14 of the players played 3 sports in high school.
• 92% of the 107 players taken in rounds 1 through 3 were multi-sport athletes.

Yes, there are some sports where you will have to specialize early to be elite. Think about gymnastics or figure skating for example. However, in team sports, such as football, this is not the case. Yes, you probably need to be exposed to the sport or develop some of the skills early, but you don’t need to give up every other sport and just play one.

It’s understandable how people could think early specialization would be good.

How is a parent, or a maybe a local travel coach supposed to know better? There is the popular myth about having to specialize for 10,000 hours to be elite. On the surface, it also seems to make sense that if you start specializing in one skill early, you’ll be better at it. Then there’s the fears of falling behind or getting shut out if you take time to do another sport.

What a lot of individuals do not know is that team sports and athletic development are far more complex and dynamic. We have motor learning, motivation, repetitive injuries, movement dysfunction, cognitive development and just plain fun that all need to be part of this equation.

Some will of course continue to make the case for picking one sport early. The science of development and motivation, the experience of successful coaches, and the choices of NFL teams, all say “don’t specialize!” Instead go play multiple sports if you want to increase your chances of having an athletic career.