The majority of sporting outcomes are largely dependent on speed, agility, and quickness. 9 times out of 10, the faster athletes win. On the field. On the court. Those athletes come out on top.
The fact remains, these athletic traits are absolute “game changers”!
Today’s post will highlight 4 key thoughts specific speed, agility, and quickness.
1. Footwear absolutely matters.
First and foremost, we need to begin with footwear. What’s on your feet affects your performance, as it directly impacts how well you will be able to transfer the force you put into the ground into forward momentum or change of direction.
If you’re in heavier shoes, good luck trying to “feel” fast.
If you’re in shoes with large heel-to-toe drops, they tend encourage severe heel striking and might contribute to knee injuries.
Most importantly, if you’re in shoes without the right amount of width and lateral support, have fun trying to change directions. This has been the biggest issue with some of the “minimalist” shoes on the market; athletes will actually roll out of the shoes during changes of direction besides the fact that they are performing the exercise perfectly.
Before you concern yourself about cutting-edge training programs and coaching cues, make sure begin with wearing proper footwear.
2. It’s easier to make a fast guy strong than it is to make a strong guy fast.
I heard the quote above during a recent presentation on speed and strength training.
Plenty of athletes are blessed with natural athletic ability – even in the absence of what one might say “good strength.” These types of athletes thrive even more when you get them stronger.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find athletes who are very strong but do not exhibit that force quickly. They need to spend much more time training speed than they do continuing to build strength.
The “fast guy getting stronger” happens much quicker than the “strong guy getting faster”. There are a lot of different reasons this is the case, but at the end of the day, I think the biggest one is that it’s difficult to teach an athlete to relax.
Guys who are naturally fast seem to “accidentally” know how to relax and turn off unwanted muscular tension. Guys who are naturally strong usually resort to sheer force to try to solve every problem.
3. Quality of movement falls off with a growth spurt – but proper training can help minimize that drop-off.
It’s not uncommon to see some horribly uncoordinated athletes on the field or court, especially during puberty and their growth spurt.
The dramatic shift in bone growth versus that of muscles and tendons in athletes ages 12-15 explains why kids who dominated the youth league often don’t make it as high-level high school or collegiate athletes. Being a Youth League all-star doesn’t predict being a National Football League all-pro very well.
Here’s the good news…we can help minimize that drop-off in athleticism by incorporating proper training principals. As always, playing multiple sports that provide a wide range of movements is crucial. Integrating mobility drills and coaching athletes on proper movement quality is essential as well. Finally, strength training must not be overlooked. Strength training will go a long way in improving movement skills. Some of the best times to get into a entry-level strength training program is at ages 11-12, even if its just 1-2 times per week.
4. Good movement training programs need a mix of coaching and competitiveness.
To get faster, I think it’s important to have both coaching and competition components in your training. Obviously, you have to coach athletes into higher quality movements or you’re just reinforcing bad movement patterns.
But, I also think there is something to be said about shutting up and just letting athletes run fast, be athletic, and compete with each other. Most elite athletes train as part of groups, not individually. Athletes push each other to get better. Timing, mirror drills, chase drills are great ways to incorporate competitiveness into the training program.
Ideally, you need to get a little bit of both coaching and competition in every movement training session. As I look at most of our typical sessions, we are very coaching intensive when introducing a new skill or drill. As athletes improve, we make our final progression of each skill or drill competitive.
Speed, agility, and quickness training are very broad topics, so I’m really just scratching the surface with these 4 key thoughts. If you’re looking for more resources or ready to get started with a training program today, I recommend that you reach out or visit www.trueap.com. True Athlete Performance is one of the area’s leading programs in the field of speed, strength and conditioning.