To the social media training gurus…

social media training gurus

Stop it! Please, just stop! 

To social media training gurus, movement ninjas, and speed wizards, in youth training;

You’re doing yourself and so many young athletes a disservice. Hurting kids. Ruining athleticism. You’re embarrassing a profession. It needs to stop.

I can’t look at social media without seeing it. The cool looking video clip with a shredded, athletic 20 year old. They’re doing this combination of fast, athletic looking movements. It is impressive.  It gets lots of likes. 

Unfortunately, it’s also a total waste of time. It’s teaching the wrong movement patterns and actually puts that young athlete at a higher risk of injury.

…but hey, it looked really cool.

training guru
hi…I’m completely unqualified, but my drills look cool on social media!

Then they start offering their “training” expertise to others and charging for it.

But, the problem is not him, or his tribe in the fantasy world of social media. It’s us in the profession and it’s the very parents being ripped off.

Sure, they can do some awesome combinations of movements, plyo drills, yoga moves, gymnastics and whatever. Looking good in little, to no clothing is a pre-requisite as well. They take great videos and selfies in the gym, at the field and places you want to be.

Maybe it’s inspirational. That’s ok. Sometimes its educational, and that’s good too.

But what about when people start listening to them and trusting them with their health or performance?

Does that person actually have an education? Are they qualified? Do they know when they aren’t qualified and to refer to a professional?

Have they put in some years of doing it, apprenticing under masters of the craft and making the mistakes we all do along the way?

All these social media training experts aren’t necessarily bad people. But we are letting too many unqualified, uneducated and inexperienced ones doing damage.

As professionals, too many of us let them get away with it. We shake our heads, or we just laugh at them behind their backs. We know that some might mean well, but they don’t see the danger.

The danger of misleading people to trust that they have real knowledge and understanding of health, fitness or performance. The time, money and effort people may waste under their direction. The violated trust of a coach to an athlete.

And worst of all, the real danger of injury caused by these gurus ignorance. That lack of understanding of biomechanics, injury, adolescent physiology.

RELATED: Discover The Secret To Building Champion Athletes

And why do parents settle for it? Sure it’s inspiring to see the picture and videos of workouts and drills. It’s hard to know how to find a good coach. But why are you trusting your kids health to this person?

Next time you encounter a social media expert, speed guru, kettlebell rockstar, or former athlete, ask them to prove they are qualified to guide your and influence your child!

I only took a weekend course, but I look good, right?

Do you just trust your kid to anyone who looks good on social media?

Would you choose your airline pilot by their awesome social media profile? “Hey, I’ve only flown a Microsoft flight simulator once before, but don’t I look good as a jumbo jet pilot? Come fly with me!”

And parents continue to feed the growing trend, by wasting their money without checking that these people know what they are talking about. More growth for the mythical social gurus and self-titled experts.

They’re all over out there.  Social media experts expounding knowledge and answers.  Yet they are still in school (if they even went) or in their first job.  They didn’t apprentice or learn their craft.  No formal training.  Do they even know what to do in an emergency or CPR.  

But hey, they did do that weekend certification that everybody passes…

When I see it, I pray.  Pray they don’t do any significant damage. That they realize when they are in over their heads.

Next time you encounter a social media training guru, speed expert, kettlebell rockstar, or former athlete, ask them to prove they are qualified to guide your and influence your child!

Not by showing you what they can do, but showing what their clients can do. Did their clients improve?

How do they handle athletes that aren’t as talented? What about ones with injury? What do they know about building a winning mindset?

Let’s raise the bar. Make them prove they are qualified to train your child.

GET THE PARENTS GUIDE TO SELECTING A PERFORMANCE COACH

Olympic Lifting for Youth Athletes: Providing the Ultimate Performance Advantage

Olympic Lifting for youth athletes

Olympic Lifting for Youth Athletes: Providing the Ultimate Performance Advantage

By Coach Tim Hanway CSCS. Sports Performance Director – Norwood
 
Every four years without exception, the world is treated to the Summer Olympic Games. The world’s best athletes assemble and compete for national honor, prestige and glory.
 
It’s Usain Bolt shattering preconceived notions of speed. Simon Biles combining all elements of strength, power, poise and grace in what can only be described as gymnastics masterclass. The level of athleticism at the Olympic Games is truly inspiring.
 
From a sports performance standpoint, coaches like myself view the Olympic Games through a different lens. Specifically, those displays of incredible athleticism stimulate our appetites and thirst for knowledge.
 

Olympic lifts are a common denominator

As coaches, we look at the performances of world-class athletes and ask ourselves; how can we reverse engineer the training process? What allowed these athletes to hit such peak form? How can we also improve own athletes’ performances?
 
I have found that there is a common denominator when looking at the training systems of all athletes. That is, the successful integration of Olympic Lifting into the athlete’s respective training programsOver the years, I have spoke with countless coaches and athletes alike. Reviewed training logs of professional, collegiate and other national level athletes. The Olympic lifts are almost always there.
 
To be successful in the highest level of any sport, athletes need to reach their maximal levels of strength, power and speedOlympic lifting for youth athletes is one strategy to achieve this.
 

Is Olympic Lifting For Young Athletes; Is It Good?

The beauty of Olympic lifts is that they are hands-down the single-best method for developing the many aspects of strength, power, speed and total-body athleticism.
 
However, Olympic lifts have a highly technical in nature. Sometimes they get a bad reputation from athletes, parents and even strength and conditioning coaches. They can have a perceived difficulty and/or danger.
 
However, when Olympic lifting is one of the safest, most versatile and effective methods of training sport-specific athleticism. When they are taught and executed properly.
 
Like so many elements of training, it can be misunderstood. Which is why the purpose of this article is to shed light on Olympic lifting.
 
For young athletes there are many benefits. Incorporating them into your training program can help you achieve newfound levels of performance and enhanced athleticism. So we are providing a general overview of these lifts.
 

The Snatch and Clean & Jerk

The Olympic lifts are broken down into two main categories. These two categories are called the “Snatch” and the “Clean & Jerk”.
 
power ouptut of olympic liftsAs portrayed in the following diagrams, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk lifts are very similar in that in both instances, the movement ends when the bar is successfully lifted over the athlete’s head.
Sports science research shows both have very large power outputs.  Much larger than classic compound strength exercises.

The Snatch

The Snatch, according to world renowned Performance Coach, Clive Brewer, is the “most powerful, whole-body human movement possible in sport”. It requires a tremendous explosive effort to move that bar from ground to overhead in one movement.

Technical breakdown of snatch olympic lift
Figure 1: Demonstration of the Various phases of the “Snatch”

The Clean & Jerk

The Clean & Jerk on the other hand, is a two-part exercise where the Snatch ends when the bar is successfully lifted over the athlete’s head. Although nearly identical, the position of the bar and segmented nature of the Clean & Jerk allows athletes to lift even heavier weights than when performing the Snatch.
 
However, because of the heavier weight and greater distance of bar travel, the speed of execution for the Clean & Jerk is slower.

Technical breakdown of the clean & jerk olympic lift
Figure 2: Demonstration of the Various phases of the “Clean & Jerk”

With that, the emphasis of power in training (i.e. speed vs. force) becomes the key element in executing the two lifts and more specifically, successfully training the body when performing the Clean & Jerk.
 

Big Force, Small-Time: The Basis of Athletic Power

 
Drilling a soccer ball 50yds from midfield. Soaring through the air to dunk a basketball. Making bone-shattering hits as an offensive lineman. Each of these illustrates the concept of power application.
 
However, as alluded to above when discussing the difference between the Snatch & Clean and the Jerk, each of the above three scenarios illustrates different types of power. To understand the difference between the three, we must first discuss what power exactly is:
 
In its simplest terms, power can be described in the following mathematical equation:
 
Power = Force x Velocity
 
“Force” in this equation can be broken down into equaling the product of Mass x Acceleration. Producing force is the application of “strength”.
 
“Velocity” on the other hand, can be described as equaling the distance an object travels divided by the time it takes to get there (Velocity = Distance/time). This is commonly called “speed”.
 
Jumping, sprinting, cutting and exploding from a three-point stance are all examples of sporting skills that each require a high degree of force generation, in the shortest time possible (Force x Velocity).
 
Hence, the mantra ‘Big Force, Small Time’ perfectly captures the essence of optimal sports performance training. Most sports movements require an optimal combination of force and velocity. to be successfully executed at the highest level.
 

The force-velocity curve

Either Force or Velocity can be emphasized in the above equation to maximize power output. Depending upon the task at hand, you might want one more than the other.

 
This concept is best illustrated in the following image, which depicts what is commonly known as Sports Science circles as the “Force-Velocity Curve”.
 

the force velocity curve
Figure 3: Illustration of the ‘Force Velocity Curve’

In the diagram you can see the inverse relationship between maximal force and maximal velocity. In a nutshell, the laws of physics state that when resistance or force levels go up, speed of movement goes down and vice-versa.
 
Let me illustrate this concept into force and velocity components. I often ask my athletes; “Which would you rather: Be hit by a cement truck going 10 mph or be hit by a bullet going 1,700 mph?” The look I typically get in return tells me that neither option is considered ideal.
 
In each instance, both the cement truck and fired bullet are considered extremely powerful from a physics standpoint. In the truck scenario, what makes the truck so powerful is the sheer weight and force of the truck of question. What it lacks in speed, it more than makes up for in mass.  Getting hit by a truck is very unpleasant!
 
The bullet on the other-hand, is tiny. The mass of such a small object is practically inconsequential on its own, but when traveling at such incredible speeds, represents a powerful and equally dangerous scenario.
 
In conclusion, when it comes to developing athletic performance, not all power situations are created equal. This is part of the reason Olympic lifting for youth athletes is a great way to train power.
 

The Best Athletes “Surf the Curve” In Their Training:

 
I learned the phrase “surf the curve” was one when reading an interview by Nick Grantham and Neil Parsley. They are both highly acclaimed Strength and Conditioning Coaches from the United Kingdom.
 

velocity based strength training
Velocity Sports Performance applies strength training across different parts of the force – velocity curve to optimize athletic performance.

Nick and Neil expressed that for a majority of athletes, in order to achieve optimal power training, there are times in their respective training plans where they have to train more like a “truck”, less like a “bullet” and vice-versa.

 
The reason for this is that for so many sports, both elements of power (i.e. Force and Velocity/Speed emphasis) are present when describing the skills and abilities necessary to attain peak performance.
 
Take our football player as an example: the football player making a tackle represents a skill with a high force component. Whereas, that same player exploding off the line of scrimmage to beat his man and chase the opposing quarterback, represents a skill with a high velocity component. Therefore, both elements of power (i.e. big force and big velocity) are necessary to compete at the highest level as a football lineman.
 
Strength and Conditioning Coaches describe this point of emphasis when it comes to training power as either a “Strength – Speed” or “Speed – Strength” emphasis. 
For example, let’s look at two different strength types in the same basic movement pattern. A bench press executed with explosiveness, could be considered a “Strength-Speed” exercise. Whereas a light, fast medicine ball chest throw could be considered an example of a “Speed-Strength” exercise (greater speed or velocity emphasis).
 

Olympic Lifts: Giving Athletes the Best of Both Worlds

 
Now that power has been clearly defined, and the relationship between force and velocity clearly understood, one can start to fully appreciate the ‘complete package’ of Olympic lifts.
 

Olympic lifts aren’t the only way to increase power

Let’s be clear, medicine balls, plyometrics, and speed work are also essential to overall athletic success. Anyone that has sat through my podcast of maximal speed training has heard how much I value focused, precise and biomechanically sound speed work.
 
The truth is that each of the above three classifications of exercises represent focused training strategies that are scientifically proven to maximize peak power output, especially from a speed-strength standpoint.
 
Conversely, I also love the regular incorporation of heavy, key compound lifts, including overhead and horizontal pressing movements like the military press and bench press, upper-body pulling movements and classic lower-body strength exercises.
 
What each of these broad categorizations of lifting movements have in common, is the high degrees of coordinated, muscular-strength efforts necessary to complete each of these lifts successfully.
However, Olympic lifts provide athletes with the best of both worlds.  To illustrate, in revisiting both the Snatch & Clean and the Jerk, one can appreciate the degrees of power necessary to navigate the bar overhead from a stationary floor position.
 
What is not captured in the static images for either the Snatch & Clean and the Jerk however, is the requisite strength, explosive power, precision, and total-body coordination necessary to successfully navigate such impressive weights from the ground to an overhead position.
 
It is only through such highly precise, coordinated muscular efforts where high levels of athletic power can be achieved to successfully attempt either of the two types of Olympic lifts.

Olympic lifts provide one type of sports specificity 

Arguably, from a ‘sports specificity’ standpoint, the Olympic lifts successfully capture the rapid triple-extension qualities of the ankles, knees and hips so often encountered in sports (see below images):
running  
arm care program for baseball and softball players building young athletes female goalie elite training
Each Demonstrations of the rapid ‘Triple-Extension’ of the hips, ankles and knees as they relate to sport
 
Virtually all sporting actions require a forceful triple-extension of the hip, knee and ankle. Whether sprinting, cutting, making a tackle, or attempting to jump for a serve, triple-extension is there.
 
Plyometrics, speed work and heavy compound lifts, are tools that represent invaluable components of my own coaching ‘arsenal’. Utilizing a combination of these tools throughout a training plan can lead to substantial gains in performance. There is no question that even in the absence of Olympic lifting, athletes can still achieve increases in athletic power.
 

Training efficiently

Athletes and coaches have limited time and effort to spend in the weight room. The question I usually ask myself as a coach when creating a program is; what types of lifts and activities are going to give my athletes the most ‘bang for their buck’. What will give them the greatest return from their training investment in the weight room?
 
The answer is Olympic lifts. Programming olympic lifting for youth athletes combines high levels of strength, speed, power and total-body coordination. 
 
Let’s return to the key distinction between the two lifts as well as our ‘Force-Velocity’ Curve.  By nature the Snatch is considered by many coaches to be more of a ‘Speed-Strength’ exercise. Whereas the Clean & Jerk is considered more of a ‘Strength-Speed’ exercise. This due to a combination of factors which includes the bar speeds and degrees of resistance encountered in both lifts.
 
Overall, both versions of the Olympic lifts in a training program allows athletes to effectively ‘surf the curve’ in their training. These lifts rely on the successful application of high force and high speeds. It is impossible to attempt either the Snatch or Clean & Jerk slowly.
 
Unlike plyometrics or medicine ball work, Olympics lifts can have a very wide range of resistanceInstead of relying on either body weight or small, weighted implements, Olympic lifts us adjustable barbells and weight. A coach can adjust the plates in order to achieve optimal resistance levels.
 

Summary:

There are numerous benefits that strength and power training has on sports performance. Speed training, plyometrics and classic strength training exercises can all provide athletes with exceptional gains in performance and athleticism.
 
Olympic lifting for youth athletes provides athletes with the ultimate “X-Factor” when it comes to training.
 
These lifts closely mimic the force and velocity demands of sport. As a result, they allow athletes to make monumental both strength and power gains in the weight room. They are efficient. One exercise gives multiple strength benefits.
 
Still the argument persists that these movements too technical for some athletes.  The truth is that once mastered, Olympic lifts provide young athletes what’s needed.  An array of exercises and drills that transfer to on-field performance.
 
Youth athletes that can learn Olympic lifts at a young age benefit from a superior training stimulus. Their successful incorporation also adds the confidence to execute one of the most common lifting skills in the sports world.

Youth Speed Training Tips: Technical + Applied Drills

Tips for training speed in youth athletes
The Velocity Speed Formula (read more about it hereuses proven speed training drills to make athletes faster.  However, it’s much more than just drills.  How different drills are combined affects learning.  For youth speed training to carry over to the game you need to learn this tip in the video.

Velocity Speed Formula

Combining technical and applied drills is an important part of youth speed training.  It’s one way we make sure athletes can apply the speed in the game.  This is just one part of the Velocity Speed System.  It’s built on the science of biomechanics and motor learning.  Learn more about the Velocity Speed Formula

Velocity Speed Training Drills: Optimal Range of Motion

Speed training drills: optimal range of motion
The Velocity Speed Formula (read more about it hereuses proven speed training drills to make athletes faster.  Whether its elite speed training or youth speed training, the Formula always has the same 4 parts;
  • Big Force
  • Small Time
  • Proper Direction
  • Optimal Range of Motion

Apply Force in the OPTIMAL RANGE OF MOTION

The range of motion your limbs and joints travel through while sprinting is a Goldilocks scenario; not too big, not too small, but just right.

If the limbs are traveling through too big a range of motion you may be wasting time and energy.

If the range is too small, you wont generate the power you need.

RELATED: Sport Specific Types of Strength

Optimal range of motion is developed by acquiring good motion through stretching and mobility work combined with dynamic mobility drills.  Below we have a few of the speed training drills that help athletes develop the optimal range of motion for sprinting.

Kneeling Arm Action Drill

This drill to reinforce arm action has been around for a long time.  The reason; it still helps athlete work on understanding the arm swing range of motion while running.  One of the keys is that you want athletes using this drill to feel good spinal alignment with relaxed shoulders and neck.

Use this drill through various speeds, push faster until form, coordination or body position start to suffer.  Then back the speed down and regain the form.  Make sure the motion is from the shoulder.  No “karate-chop” actions at the elbows.

 

Fast Leg Drill

There are many useful variations of the Fast Leg speed drill and multiple benefits.  The one we are focusing on here is the range of motion.  Specifically the range of motion when the leg recovers from behind the body and the thigh lifts in front.  The higher the thigh lift, the more power the drive down and back can be.

This drill breaks up the sprinting motion so athletes can focus on the technical aspects.  As always, great core posture is important.

Velocity Speed Formula

Both of these are important speed training drills to help athletes ability to apply force in the proper direction. These drills reinforce basics physics so athletes can accelerate faster.

RELATED: Velocity Coaches Favorite Speed Drills

Velocity Speed Training Drills: Proper Direction

Speed Training Drill for Proper Direction
The Velocity Speed Formula (read more about it hereuses proven speed training drills to make athletes faster.  Whether its elite speed training or youth speed training, the Formula always has the same 4 parts;
  • Big Force
  • Small Time
  • Proper Direction
  • Optimal Range of Motion

Apply Force in the Proper Direction

Force is a vector which means it has a direction as well as quantity.  Efficient and effective movement requires not just the right amount of force, but applied in the right direction.

Proper direction is achieved through the right motor pattern (technique) and the stability of the body to apply it that way.  When the structures of joints, muscles and tendons aren’t up to the task, we have what we call “energy leaks.”

Below we share 2 useful drills that help you develop your PROPER DIRECTION qualities.  These drills are designed to reinforce and help the athlete self-regulate the direction they apply force to the ground.

RELATED: Sport Specific Types of Strength

Harness Resisted Sprints for Acceleration

To accelerate an athlete need to apply more force horizontally.  Thats how they increase their movement velocity. This drill reinforces horizontal force application.

The harness allows additional horizontal force to be applied to the athlete. Using a belt, it’s applied near the center of mass to be more biomechanically correct.  As the athlete feels that added force, they will tend to automatically apply force in a more horizontal direction

 

Wall Drills

This is a classic speed training drill that has survived the test of time.

Trying to drive the legs backward and push into the wall reinforces the horizontal force direction for acceleration.

To project your center of mass in the air high enough for the rope to go around twice, you need to apply a big enough force.

It’s very effective but has a problem; it get boring quickly.  So make sure you use it as a prep or reinforcement drill.  Don’t do it for a long time.  It’s also bets used in quick contrast with a drill where the athlete gets to apply that force moving and reinforce the proper direction.

Velocity Speed Formula

Both of these are important speed training drills to help athletes ability to apply force in the proper direction. These drills reinforce basics physics so athletes can accelerate faster.

RELATED: Velocity Coaches Favorite Speed Drills

Is Youth Strength Training Safe?

is Youth strength training safe

Youth Strength Training Safety

Is resistance training safe for youth athletes?  It’s an important question for every coach and parent.

The bad news…

You still hear it the myths. Weight training will stunt your growth.  It will make athletes muscle bound.  It is dangerous for youth athletes.

The good news…

It’s safe and effective. We’ve seen it for 20 years.  Today it’s backed by research and medical leaders.

Health Benefits of Resistance Training for Youth and Adolescents

Resistance training has been show to be safe and also have a number of health benefits. It helps;

  • Body composition
  • Cardiovascular risk profile
  • Reduce body fat
  • Facilitate weight control
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Strengthen bone
  • Enhancing psychosocial wellbeing

RELATED: Strength Training Is Injury Prevention

Is weight training safe for youth?  Here’s some experts answering.

The scientific and medical communities have come to a conclusion. It is that strength training is safe and beneficial for youth athletes.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association

3 Biggest Myths about Soccer Speed

soccer speed

When comes to developing soccer speed in players, we all know why it’s important. Speed wins games.  Coaches want it, players respect it, and spectators cheer for it. Unfortunately, speed training for soccer is often misunderstood.  In years of working with everything from AYSO to National teams, here are the 3 biggest myths we hear about soccer specific speed.

Only speed with the ball matters

Of course being quick with the ball in your possession is going to be a huge part of soccer.  That’s skill.  That’s the point.  However, if you don’t recognize what happens without the ball, you’re missing most of the game.

First of, most of the time players don’t have the ball.  Just do the math; 90 minute game, 20 field players, if they had it equal time (which of course they don’t) that’s 4.4 minutes or 5% of the time. So even if you’re a player who gets a lot more possession, you’re going to spend the majority of time without the ball.

Then you have to think about how you get the ball.  Beating an opponent to it and creating an open space with a run both can require speed.

Finally, while moves in small tight spaces, may require more quickness form you, if you’re moving in open space, you cant moving any faster with the ball than your body can go.  Your sprinting speed is your limit.

Bottom line, if you want to be a fast player, develop your speed. Period.

Fast players are born that way

Decades ago many coaches would say “you cant teach speed” like there was a simple genetic lottery to have it or not.  Not true.

Not it is true you need some genetic qualities to have world class, 100m gold medal speed.  If you didn’t have the right grandparents, all the training in the world might not get you there.

However speed is a complex motor skill that involves both motor control and force production capabilities.  Both of those can be taught and improved through good coaching and training.  Sped is a skill and can be taught.

If you want to get an advantage over the competition at every level, than you need to maximize your speed.  That means training the movement skills and the force production abilities.

Running sprints will make players fast

Too often coaches, players and parents think they are doing speed training.  After all, the players are running as fast as they can doing those sprints at practice.

While running at full effort is an important part of developing speed, its not a winning formula.

The formula to improve speed is The Big 4.  The four factors you can train and teach to improve.  They are;

  1. Generating a big force to propel the body
  2. Applying that force in a very small ground contact time
  3. Applying the force in the Proper Direction
  4. Moving the body through an Optimal Range of Motion

These can all be taught using advanced motor control and neuro-developmental techniques along with proper functional strength training and mobility development

RELATED: See How Velocity Simplifies the Biomechanics of Speed

Do You Want To Be Faster?

If you’ve fallen into one of these traps, you’re not alone.  The good news is that you can get an edge on the competition by breaking free and  taking control of how fast you will be out on the soccer field.

Velocity Speed Training Drills: Small Time

plyometric drills for speed
The Velocity Speed Formula (read more about it hereuses proven speed training drills to make athletes faster.  Whether its elite speed training or youth speed training, the Formula always has the same 4 parts;
  • Big Force
  • Small Time
  • Proper Direction
  • Optimal Range of Motion

Apply Force Faster for Speed

Below we share 2 useful drills that help you develop your SMALL TIME qualities.  In essence, these are plyometric drills.  Drills where you have a ground contact that stretched your muscles, followed quickly by a contraction of those same muscles.

One of the benefits of this type of plyometric action is that parts of your muscles act like springs.  When you land they compress.  When you push they spring back and help you.

This is what we term Reactive Strength and is key for any athlete that wants to be fast.

RELATED: Sport Specific Types of Strength

Hurdle Hop Speed Training Drills

Hurdle hops are a very popular drill for speed training with good reason; they are effective.  The key is to do them well.

When your goal is to develop your reactive abilities, you need to focus on getting off the ground quick.  At the same time, you need to apply force.  Make sure you try to really project your body high into the air on each.  The speed is on the ground contact, not the movement forward.

Jump Rope Double-Unders

This is a time tested classic for foot speed.  It’s hardly new, but it works.  It should be a fundamental piece of every youth speed training program.  It’s basically a plyometric drill for speed.

To project your center of mass in the air high enough for the rope to go around twice, you need to apply a big enough force.

If you don’t want to get smacked with the rope, you need to apply that force quickly.

Double-unders are what we call a “self-limiting drill’.  This means that you really can’t perform it with bad technique.  Maybe you can get a few in without doing it well, but to string them together you need good form.  You will be in the proper body position, have the right range of motion and have a small time on the ground.

Velocity Speed Formula

Both of these are important speed training drills to develop an athletes ability to apply force quickly. They are great plyometric drills that work.   Execute them explosively and with great body position to be effective. If you perform them well and often, you’ll see the results transfer to game speed.

Velocity Speed Training Drills: Big Force

speed training drills
The Velocity Speed Formula (read more about it hereuses proven speed training drills to make athletes faster.  Whether its elite speed training or youth speed training, the Formula always has the same 4 parts;
  • Big Force
  • Small Time
  • Proper Direction
  • Optimal Range of Motion

Getting Stronger for Speed

This article is focused on 2 important drills that help to develop your BIG FORCE qualities.  Although these are not weight room drills, strength training for speed development is important.  To be fast, athletes need to train in the weight room and do it properly.

These drills also develop some of the strength qualities you need to improve your speed.  They are very specific to building strength for speed.  They build speed strength and have a high carryover from training to application.

Box Blast Exercise

The Box Blast is a speed training drill that lets you focus on maximum power.  The basic alignment of the limbs and torso is similar to the acceleration phase of sprinting.  Most importantly, the muscle motion is a piston-like action which we observe the acceleration phase.

Heavy Sled Runs

This is another greater drill that is highly specific to strength for speed.  Speed training drills like this need to be executed with great form and body alignment.

Velocity Speed Formula

Both of these are important speed training drills to develop the force production capabilities of athletes.  Execute them explosively and with great body position to be effective. If you perform them well and often, you’ll the results transfer to game speed.

Velocity Speed Formula: Big Force

Strength training for speed

Velocity Big 4 Speed Formula
The Speed Formula is the science of speed biomechanics simplified.

Understanding strength training for speed is important for coaches and athletes.  Previously I’ve covered why the Big 4 is such an effective “formula” for speed (read it here). It’s how we analyze movement, teach and come up with drills and programs. No advanced degree in physics or neuroscience necessary. The formula is:

  • Big Force
  • Small Time
  • Proper Direction
  • Optimal Range of Motion
Let’s delve deeper and take a look at the first element; Big Force. It has driven why and how we incorporate certain drills and resistance exercises. It is basic Newtonian physics; you push the ground one way and it pushes you the opposite direction.

How Much Strength Do You Need?

It’s a good question. How much strength do you really need?
 
Observing the difference in muscular development between a sprinter and a marathoner should give you a clue. Sprinter’s have way more muscle mass. This doesn’t mean you need to just be bigger or become a powerlifter. But biomechanics research does tell us very large forces have to be applied by the athlete to move fast.
 
You need to produce a Big Force. The strength you need is developed by:
  • sprinting fast,
  • using specific sprint and plyometric drills,
  • and getting in the weight room.

What Is Strength?

For an athlete, strength means a lot more than just how much weight you can lift. There are 6 different strength qualities we train. Focusing on specific strength qualities is how we improve speed.
 
Strength is how much you can lift, right?
 
Nope.
 
How much you can lift is a great expression of some strength or power qualities. As an Olympic weightlifting coach, I’ve helped athletes go from starting the sport to be on the US National team. I love the strength and power (Strength x Speed) expressed through weightlifting.
 
Then there’s powerlifting. Squat, deadlift, bench. Many of the coaches on our staff have been competitive powerlifters as well as my friends. These feats of strength are really impressive and it’s a great expression of Max Strength.
 
Neither is the definition of strength though. They are just great examples of 2 of our 6 specific qualities. Going in-depth is beyond the scope of this writing but here are our 6 types of strength:
  1. Maximum Strength: think powerlifting and even sub max weights. It’s about force and speed is not important.
  2. Eccentric Strength: Think shock absorbers and brakes. When you land, stop, cut, etc… your muscles contract while lengthening. This is an eccentric strength action.
  3. Power (Strength-Speed): Moving fast against a larger load. Think weightlifting or football lineman pushing each other.
  4. Power (Speed- Strength): Moving fast against a light load. Throwing a baseball, jumping, throwing a punch. Moving it fast matters.
  5. Rate of Force Development: How fast you can turn on the muscles. Think of a drag racer analogy. It’s how fast they can go from 0 to speed that matters.
  6. Reactive Strength: Combine a fast & short eccentric stretch, immediately followed by RFD and you have reactive. This is the springy quick step you see in fast footwork.

What Type of Strength Do You Need?

If there are different types of strength, which help you apply a BIG FORCE into the ground? Which will help you get faster?
 
The answer lies in part on what you are trying to improve. The answer may be different if we are talking about acceleration compared to maximum velocity sprinting. And those may be different than a change of direction.

Acceleration

This is the phase where you are starting and gaining speed. During this phase, the mechanics lead to slightly longer ground contact times. This added time in contact with the ground lets you build up force to push harder. You still have only between 200 – 400 milliseconds, so Max Strength will help, but Speed-Strength is key.
 
This phase is also characterized by large horizontal and vertical forces. This means that when training strength, you need strength exercises for both pushing backward and down. A good dose of weight room basics like lunges, power cleans help. Combined with vertical and horizontal plyometrics, along with sled work, the results get better.

Maximum Velocity Mechanics

During this phase, you are upright and moving fast. Your foot needs to hit the ground with high forces but it’s not there for long. Elite sprinters are in contact less than 100 milliseconds. You need Max Strength enough to handle the high loads 1.5 – 2.5 times body weight on each leg. You also need to be able to absorb the impact and reapply force quickly. That’s Reactive Strength.
 
Since you’ve already accelerated, in this phase the forces are mostly vertical. They keep you from falling into the ground. Therefore, weight and plyometric exercises like squats, reactive hurdle jumps, and even jump rope double-unders all contribute.

Change of Direction

When changing direction, the type of strength can depend on how sharp of a cut you make. One situation is a major change of direction where you slow down and re-accelerate. This requires a lot of Eccentric Strength and Strength-Speed. On the other hand, if it’s a quick cut without slowing down or a big range of motion, then it’s more about Reactive Strength and Speed-Strength.
 
Both these are going to benefit from a mix of weight room and plyometrics. The weight room will include strength exercises and Olympic lifts for power. The plyometrics are going to need to focus on developing horizontal and lateral forces.

Technical Sprint Drills for Strength Development

There is a big misunderstanding of technical speed drills. Most people see a technical drill and naturally believe it’s to develop technique. It makes sense after all, but there is so much more.
 
Many “technique” drills in speed training are just as important to developing Big Force as the weight room. By refining an athlete’s technique, they become more efficient with the strength they have. They learn to apply it better.
 
Often many speed drills are really a plyometric exercise themselves. They require putting a lot of force into the ground, in the proper direction. They are in fact the most speed specific form of strength training there is.

Strength Training for Speed

Having good technique and good power output is key to being fast. It’s not an either/or situation, it’s an AND sitution. You need technique AND strength. In every athlete’s development, they go through stages. Sometimes their technique gets ahead of their strength, and vice versa. Make sure you stay on track by developing both and working with a knowledgeable coach who can determine if you need one or the other more.