Research Proves How Faster Sprinters Use Strength For Speed

SMU Sprint Research

Research from the world’s leading sport scientists proves that faster sprinters need strength for speed. They are able to apply more force to the ground than slower runners. Studies from institutions including Harvard University and SMU’s Locomotor Performance Laboratory have shown how these forces are the difference between faster and slower sprinters.

They’ve proven that if you want to maximize your speed, you need to apply big forces to the ground quickly. This is one aspect of strength that includes two different types of strength.

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

RELATED: Learn Velocity’s Proven BIG 4 Speed Formula

Biomechanics of Sprinting

Sprinting has been studied for decades. However, most of this was done using video to analyze how sprinters moved. Using video gives you a picture of the kinematics. This is how we measure and describe motion through body position, joint angles and movement velocity.

This kinematic research has given us a lot of useful information. Still, there is another component to the biomechanics that hasn’t been looked at much, and that’s the kinetics.

These are the forces that are used to create that motion and body position. It’s a lot harder because you need a track full of force plates and moving cameras or a specialized research treadmill. Yet, it’s critical to understand the needs of strength for speed.

Kinetics of Speed – Force

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.

“The top sprinters have developed a wind-up and delivery mechanism to augment impact forces. Other runners do not do so.” Ken Clark, a researcher in the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory

https://blog.smu.edu/research/2017/01/30/new-study-connects-running-motion-to-ground-force-provides-patterns-for-any-runner/

Driving the leg down and back into the ground is going to create a big impact on each step. The peak force during that ground contact is gong to be 4-5 times bodyweight when sprinting. Now imagine a 200lbs athlete, that’s 800-1000 lbs. on a single leg, each step.

Kinetics of Speed – Time

Your linear speed dictates why the big force you generated has to be applied in a small time. The faster you sprint, the faster you need to apply that big force.

Think about it. As you sprint faster, your body is moving over the ground with greater velocity. You’re moving faster over that part of the ground under your foot. The faster you sprint; the less time your foot is in contact with the ground. That’s just simple physics.

When your foot hits the ground, it’s driving down with a lot of power. There’s only 90-130 milliseconds of time to get all that force into the ground.

To realize how fast that is take out your phone. Open the stopwatch. Try to hit “start”, then “stop” as fast as you can.
What did you get?

Most people will get between 00.12 and 00.15. Some may beat that. This should give you some perspective; it is a small time to apply that force of 4-5 times bodyweight.

Strength For Speed and Stiffness

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 and kinetic chain “stiffness” to not collapse on contact. Only when you have the reactive strength to provide the stiffness can you fully benefits from those big forces of the leg swing. This is a key part of understanding strength for speed.

Your ankle, knee or hip all have to stay “stiff” enough to apply the force of 4-5 times bodyweight and not bend or absorb it. If they cushion it like a shock absorber, some of the force is wasted.

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.

The Bouncing Ball Analogy

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 a beach ball, soft and compliant. Throw them down with as much force as possible. Which one bounces higher off the ground?

The stiffer superball bounces higher. Why? Because it stores elastic energy and applies the force back into the ground. The beach ball absorbs some of the force and doesn’t have the elastic energy to rebound.

That superball is 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.

“We found that the fastest athletes all do the same thing to apply the greater forces needed to attain faster speeds. They cock the knee high before driving the foot into the ground, while maintaining a stiff ankle. These actions elevate ground forces by stopping the lower leg abruptly upon impact.” Peter Weyand, director of the Locomotor Performance Lab

https://blog.smu.edu/research/2017/01/30/new-study-connects-running-motion-to-ground-force-provides-patterns-for-any-runner/

Sprinting Fast Requires Strength

The research on faster sprinters shows why you need strength for speed. And we are not just talking about weight on a barbell.

To generate a big force with your lower leg you will need explosive strength. To apply it you need reactive strength for stiffness. The good news is that research has also shown that getting stronger generally correlates with getting faster.

You can develop these specific strength qualities by working in the weightroom using traditional and Olympic lifts. You do it using plyometrics properly. Especially single leg plyometrics with an emphasis on reactive strength.

You create that stiffness building core and hip stability to transmit and control those forces. And most importantly, you develop it by sprinting with good mechanics.

We know you need strength for speed. The Velocity Speed Formula is built on science and proven in sport. The research is starting to catch up and show why it works and can help you get faster.

TO LEARN MORE: The Ultimate Guide To Speed Training

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
  • New study connects running motion to ground force, provides patterns for any runner. SMU Research Blog, January 30, 2017. https://blog.smu.edu/research/2017/01/30/new-study-connects-running-motion-to-ground-force-provides-patterns-for-any-runner/

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Sleep: The Most Important Strategy for Athletes

sleep is the most important strategy for athletes

Sleep is a smart play

 
Focusing attention on sleep is a smart strategy for anyone trying to perform their best.
 
Everyone faces more threats to sleeping well than ever before.  From the rigors of your busy schedules, to added stress in life and work, and from the slumber-stealing use of technology.
 
 
Physical activity puts demand on muscles and tissues. The human body repairs itself during slumber. So it not only helps your body recover, it’s also a surefire performance booster.
 

Sleep powers performance

 
Scientific research clearly has documented the performance enhancing power of quality sleep. In the world of athletics, improving any aspect of mental and physical performance is incredibly valuable.
 
When we have to improve recovery for an athlete, we start here.  It has a wide range of benefits and the cost of missing is immense. It something everyone can be proactive and take control of.
 
If you aren’t getting sleep, then other recovery methods are just a short term fix.  It’s like putting more deodorant on, when you aren’t even taking a shower.
 
It’s just not going to make a real difference!
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
– Vince Lombardi

Lack of sleep increases injuries 

 
One scientific study showed that athletes sleeping less than 6 hours per night were more likely to suffer a fatigue related injury the following day!  
 
Another study showed high school athletes who slept less than 8 hours per night has more injuries. On average, they had an injury rate of 1.7 times greater than those who slept more than 8 hours.
 
As an athlete, you can’t play if you’re on the bench with an injury.
 
For your own health and their future playing career, you need to focus on sleeping well.
 
Learn the benefits of sleep
This video highlights some of the most important ways benefits to1 athletic performance:

The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players 
Mah C, et al. (2011)

Ongoing study continues to show that extra sleep improves athletic performance
Mah C, et al. (2008)

The effect of partial sleep deprivation on weight-lifting performance
Reilly T, Piercy M. (1994)

Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes
Milewski MD, et al. (2014)

How sleep deprivation decays the mind and body
The Atlantic

Strength Training Is Injury Prevention

strength training helps prevent injury

Stay In The Game

In elite sports there is a lot of emphasis put on injury prevention.  It doesn’t matter how good you are if you are sitting on the bench, hurt.

Teams and athletes look to us to reduce their risk of injury.  We know there are many parts to injury prevention, but the foundation is often strength.

For the last 20 years, Velocity Sports Performance has known that good strength training is injury prevention.

  • Our experience with athletes in 11 Olympic Games backs it up.
  • Our experience with thousands of professional athletes backs it up.
  • A growing body of scientific research is starting to catch up.

is Youth strength training safe

RELATED:  Is Youth Strength Training Safe?

 

You need to know: strength is more than just weight on a barbell

Types of Strength
When you speak about strength or being strong, what do you imagine? An athlete hoisting a barbell loaded with heavy weight in a Squat or Bench Press? How about an Olympic weightlifter explosively moving 400 pounds from the floor to over his head in a single movement?
 
These types of things are often considered “strong,” but what about other sporting actions? How about sprinting at full speed, jumping high, or throwing and kicking?  Most people become unsure whether or how strength is part of these movements.

Defining Strength

What is strength in general and specifically for athletes?  Strength is all about physics, and we are talking about Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion: in a nutshell, Force is equal to Mass multiplied by Acceleration.
 
Strength is a way of talking about the application of force. An athlete can apply force to the ground, to an opponent, to a ball or other piece of sports equipment, or even internally to his or her own body.

Mass & Magnitude

The mass in this equation is what’s being moved. As an athlete that could be things like:
  • a ball or stick in your hands, to
  • your own body weight (jumping, sprinting and cutting)
  • a 300-pound linemen
  • 500 pounds on a barbell

Acceleration and Time

One thing most people recognize is that in sports, doing things quicker is usually an advantage. Athletes don’t have unlimited time to apply force.
 
Acceleration is how fast something increases its speed. The faster the acceleration, and thus the speed, the shorter the time.
 
In sprinting or agility, your foot is in contact with the ground for a limited time. In jumping, there is limited time, and doing it faster than your opponent can be key.  When throwing or kicking a ball or swinging a racket, bat or stick, you want it moving as fast as possible.
 
Speed of movement matters.

Muscle Action

In physics, force is what we call a “vector.” This means it has a magnitude (how much?) and a direction (which way?). Direction matters because forces can be applied in different directions for different effects.
 
One thing to consider about direction is whether the muscle is lengthening or shortening during the contraction. When it’s contracting and getting shorter (e.g., bringing the bar up in a Bicep Curl), it’s called a “concentric” action.
 
If you’re applying force while the muscle lengthens (e.g., while slowly lowering the bar in the 2nd half of the Bicep Curl), it’s called an “eccentric” action.
 
Types of muscle contractions:
  • CONCENTRIC = Shortening
  • ECCENTRIC = Lengthening
Eccentric and concentric strength are not the same. The same muscles may be used, the same structures and contractile proteins, and the same lints moved. Yet, the brain uses different motor control strategies. For the same action concentrically or eccentrically the motor control is different.

Physiology & Motor Control

Another important thing to understand about strength for athletes is where it comes from.  Often people equate strength with bigger muscles. This is for good reason, because they are related, although not perfectly and not for all types.
 
Generating force with your body is a combination of the structure of your muscles (size and biological content) and your neuromuscular control. The muscle is your engine to develop horsepower, but your brain is the driver that decides how hard you push the pedal.

Sport-Specific Strength

When we analyze an athlete in his or her sport, we observe various forms of movement. Speed, agility, jumping, throwing, kicking, hitting, twisting, landing and so on are movement caused by how an athlete generates force.
 
It follows that all types of athletic movement are based on how you generate and apply strength.
 
Still, how can everything be about strength? Is what your muscles do squatting a full barbell different from what they do when you throw a baseball that only weighs ounces?
 
The answer to understanding strength is actually composed of different combinations of Newton’s 2nd Law. Force = Mass multiplied by Acceleration

Playing with the Equation

In different movements we manipulate the 3 parts of the equation—Force, Mass and Acceleration (Speed & Time). The we consider the direction of contraction (eccentric or concentric). Now we have a way to analyze sports movements and strength types.
 
We use this movement-based approach to simplify complex biomechanics into 6 specific types of strength.

6 Types of Strength

Max Strength

This is the basic capability of the muscle to produce a forceful contraction. In application it also involves coordinating multiple muscle groups across multiple joints. The amount of force that can be generated regardless of the time it takes to develop and apply it is called max strength. This is what we call this type of strength even when he or she is under sub-maximal loads.
Maximum strength
Using a car analogy, imagine a big industrial dump truck. It may not move fast, but it can move big loads.

Eccentric Strength

As mentioned before, motor control is different if the action is concentric or eccentric. The capacity to develop high levels of eccentric force is key in sports. Actions such as landing from a jump, stopping, changing direction, winding up to throw a ball and swinging a bat are all eccentric in nature.
When we come to cars, think brakes.  Eccentric strength is like having great brakes on a car to handle those high speeds. An F1 racer has to have great brakes so he or she can go into turns as fast as possible before braking.

Strength-Speed Power

Most sports applications of force involves doing it quickly. Faster is usually better. This is where power comes in. Power is equal to the velocity times the force. Increasing either force or the speed its applied will lead to more power.
strength speed
When an athlete applies force rapidly to a larger load (e.g., blocking another lineman or pushing a bobsled), it’s what we term Strength-Speed Power. “Strength” is first in the name because it’s the bigger component in generating the power. This is like a NASCAR racer who can apply a lot of torque (force), moving the car even at high speeds.

Speed-Strength Power

Here it’s the “speed” of movement (or short time of force application) that is the larger factor in generating the power. Think of an athlete swinging a bat, throwing a ball, or applying force to the ground during high velocity sprinting.
The racing analogy is more akin to motorcycle racing—still applying force at high speeds (like NASCAR), but against much lighter loads.

Rate of Force Development

This is the drag racer. In a drag race, the goal is to go from 0 mph to full speed in as little time as possible. This is the same quality that creates quickness in an athlete. Rapid movement of the limbs, a quick release of the ball throwing or a shot in hockey, fast feet for soccer. Being able to rapidly generate force, regardless of whether the force level is high is known as Rate of Force Development.
Rate of Force Development
A drag racer coming off the line and getting up to speed as fast as possible is a good car analogy.

Reactive Strength

This one’s a combo. It’s a fast eccentric action coupled with a high RFD force. Think of rapid footwork, or a quick step to change direction and juke an opponent. Or the second quick jump when a basketball player comes down and goes back up quickly to get a rebound.
We use a motocross bike as the analogy. Because it has high Rate of Force Development with eccentric-type landings of bumps that gives it that “springy” quality.

Developing Strength that’s Functional

At the end of the day, athletes want the type of strength that will help them perform at the highest level and gives them the resilience to stay healthy.
 
Every athlete needs a base across all six types of strength. While it seems to make sense to go straight to the specific type of strength for your sport, it’s not the best strategy.
 
Doing that actually limits development and long term potential. During early stages of strength training, a broad base of strength is important. Even at the elite levels of sport, athletes mix strength types during different parts of the year.
 
As you progress in your development and level of competition, you begin to focus on the specific qualities. The strength types more important to your sport, your position and even your individual genetics and style of play.
 
Strength is much more than how much you can lift on the barbell.

4 Myths about Muscle Pliability You Need to Know

Trainer performing graston technique

The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.

Defining Words

Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term.  Pliable expresses some of the important qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:

Pliable

a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking

b: yielding readily to others

c: adjustable to varying conditions

That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.

Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”

Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.

Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense

That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle.  Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “Soft isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”

This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor.  Proper self myo-fascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.

MORE INFO: Mobility vs Flexibility: They are different and it matters for athletes

Myth 2: Dense muscles = stiff muscles = easily injured athletes

Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies the reality and is in some ways completely wrong.

You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”

Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.

Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.

“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury.” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting an incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as well as lengthen. The ability of tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”

In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need.   Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport.  They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.

Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short

“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when body building techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short’.”

RELATED: Why Athletic Strength Is More Than Just How Much Weight Is on The Barbell. 

In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.

 

Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability

We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.

Sport science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.

Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing

Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.

In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.

Discover the Secret Used to Build Great Athletes

Lessons on building Olympic Athletes

The world’s leading sports organizations have spent decades and millions of dollars to discover the formula to build great athletes.

Dear Parent,

We’ve been in the sports profession for decades, and have helped over a million athletes. We’ve examined athlete development systems around the world. And most importantly, many of us are parents as well.

We know the awesome, positive aspects of youth sports participation. It can help athletes develop a fit lifestyle, learn to work hard and build a growth mindset.

Like you, we believe in the work ethic, attitudes and character developed through sports training and competition. We help young athletes strive to pursue their goals. That’s everything from making the team, getting more playing time, or even becoming a professional.

We are inspired when we see an athlete or team striving to be their best. Operating at elite levels, we see the stage of international sport as a showcase for the human spirit. Our love of sport includes the process of building great athletes.

This why we love what we do! Some days though, it is hard to see good people, with the best of intentions, making mistakes developing young athletes.

We understand it is hard to know what’s best for your young athlete. What’s best for them to have success now and in the long term. There is so much conflicting information.

There’s so much pressure to win now. There are the demands of sport, life and school that make it hard sometimes.

What does it take to create GREAT athletes?

Organizations like the US Olympic Committees, US Soccer, USA Hockey and others have a mission to develop great athletes. The world’s best. They’ve spent decades researching and testing these different methods. In international sport, it’s a race to build the best.

In youth sports today, we all know that there is tremendous pressure for an athlete to “win now” so they can make the elite team. The coach and the club is under pressure to “win now” or they risk losing their players to another team or club. Parents feel like if they don’t get their young athletes in the right place early the future opportunities will be gone.

All of this “win now” leaves little time for actually developing. Don’t get it wrong, we want the young kids to compete.   We want there to be winners and losers in games. Yet, if we sacrifice developing a well rounded athlete for winning at 10 years old, we are mortgaging their athletic future for a win today.

A great athlete in most sports starts with athleticism. Without question there are also different key sports skills you must start early. For example; dribbling in basketball, ground strokes in tennis, and ball touch in soccer. You need to play the sport at a young enough age to start developing this.

In an athletes’ earliest years, they might rely on this skill to stand out. It’s the sport after all! Looming underneath is a need for athleticism. It becomes important more and more as they move up in levels and competition get tougher. As the other players also have high level skill, then athleticism becomes another route to gain an advantage.

Does Playing Multiple Sports Help Athleticism?

If you’re not sold on it yet, let’s look at a few examples of this playing out in the real world.

Urban Meyer, famous football coach at The Ohio State University, recruits multi-sport athletes. In fact, some reports show that a whopping 89% of his football recruits are multi-sport athletes.

Ohio States recruits multi-sport athletes

image from @ohiovarsity

Let’s go wider than only football and look across all Olympic Sports. The United States Olympic Committee has done extensive research for decades on what builds a champion. They’ve looked at hundreds of Olympians and medalists to see when they specialized.

Many would expect to be an Olympian you had to specialize early and give up other sports and some times that’s true. But the data shows a different story. Olympians are arguably some of the most elite athletes on the planet. Yet, the USOC study shows they play multiple sports through their high school years!

US Olympians play multiple sports

But it’s not just about specializing in one sport; it’s about the training that often goes along with it. Developing only “sport specific” skill, without a route to increase overall athleticism does them much more harm than good!

Our job as a Sports Performance organization is to create a better athlete, which means a well-rounded athlete.

Skipping Well Rounded Athletic Development Can Have Harmful Effects…

As coaches, we hope to create great athletes who have a chance at being successful for the long haul. To support this, our programs are based on the concepts of Long Term Athletic Development.

Just like a baby needs to follow steps in development, so does a young athlete. A baby must learn to roll over before crawling, crawl before fore walking, and walk before running. Athletes need to build a solid foundation for elite athletic performance before they can reach their full potential.

The Injury Problem

When athletes skip critical steps in building this athletic foundation, they are at a much higher risk for injury and burnout. We’ve seen it in our centers across the country and we’ve seen it in Olympic development systems around the world. Olympic Committees have contracted with us to help solve the problem of injury due in large part to over specialization.

• In a Loyola University study of 1200 youth athletes, researchers found that early specialization was one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes who specialized were 70-93% more likely to be injured compared to multi-sport athletes.

Without a well rounded athletic base, missed pieces act like cracks in the foundation. They might not be a problem now, but they can lead to future problems down the line. Small cracks have a tendency to grow over time and under pressure.

The trouble is building the foundation early isn’t always sexy. And its really hard for parents and young athletes to find the time.

Your Long Term Athlete Development System

The Long Term Athletic Development model has been developed over several decades. It’s been adopted by many successful elite organizations. The best know expert might be Dr. Istvan Balyi, a coach and sport scientist. He helped implement this model in professional tennis, with USA Hockey, in the UK to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics and through Sport Canada.

The concept is simple. There should be a long term view of developing an athlete with the highest chance of success at the elite level. To do this we need to have some outline of what they should be doing from the youngest ages all the way through their pro and Olympic career.

A Model For Developing Champions

Now don’t misunderstand, this isn’t some fluffy “they all win and there is no competition” model. It comes from elite sport and supports competition. It doesn’t support winning at the earliest ages at the expense of being a great athlete later. This document from LTAD.ca is a great summary:

From the start to finish, we progressively build an athletes foundation, skills and mindset so they can reach their full potential. But we know every athlete doesn’t have the potential to succeed to a Gold Medal in every sport.

So doesn’t that make this a waste for most athletes?

NO. Because it helps athletes reach their best potential. Because an athletic foundation of fundamental movement and sports skills, improves the likelihood and opportunity to participate in sports and fitness life long.

This balance of elite development and sports participation is why so many sports organizations have adopted this model. These examples help show how Sport Canada and USA Hockey are applying it to their systems;

Since 1999 the Velocity model has incorporated the LTAD concepts and has evolved with continued research and experience with over 1 million athletes. We think about athletic development as a pyramid and if we are going to build this pyramid to great heights we need a broad and comprehensive base.

By building a broad base of athletic skill and movement we create a foundation. An athletic movement foundation that they can build on and without wide cracks. This way a young athlete has more movement skill and physical resources to draw from. Then they have more opportunity to find their best position or sport as they get older.

RELATED: Learn Velocity’s Proven BIG 4 Speed Formula

Just go back to that USOC graphic about how many sports Olympic athletes played. They had the athleticism to pick the one that they could excel at, in part because they had a broad athletic base.

How Can a Parent Help a Young Athlete in Todays Sports Environment?

As we know, the demands of time, year round participation and advancing technical level make it hard on young athletes and their parents. You don’t want your kids to fall behind because they took time to play another sport or training. You fear they wont be on the right team or have the opportunity later.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide To Speed Training

It’s a real concern and as parents, one many of us have felt as well.

Sport coaches can be as frustrated. They fell pressure to focus on skill development. So often they cant incorporate the overall athletic development they might want as well. They only have a few hours a week and parents bring a lot of pressure to succeed now.

But we have insider knowledge. You can do both. While our young athletes in the US are playing club and school sports, they can still develop as athletes.

Through the year they can just continue to develop athleticism. Not just sport skill. Not only sport training, just general, all around athleticism. For our youngest athletes, this means as little as 2 hours a week that builds fundamentals.

Then as they enter middle school and high school training becomes more focused on strength, speed, power and fitness. Just 2 – 4 hours a week adds to their athletic foundation and develops movement patterns beyond their specific sport.

During some parts of the year they can increase the time spent on developing these qualities. If they want to be their best and can spare 2-4 days a week, they can do more to reach their full athletic potential.

Developing Athletes Is About AND, Not OR.

We hope parents understand; it’s not a question of sport specific skill OR overall athleticism. It’s a matter of AND. You can develop your sports skills, compete AND keep becoming a well rounded athlete.

Our experience in elite sports and youth sports confirms this view. We’ve seen what works and building better athletes in key in our belief.