Does your coach have you doing speed drills and agility exercises, hoping to improve your quickness? Are you doing speed training workouts every time you train? Are you frustrated with not seeing the speed results you want despite running all the time?
It’s time to realize that simply running more is not enough. To optimize your speed potential, you need to focus on other qualities beyond running or speed and agility drill work. If you think that simply running more will develop your speed, then everyone who runs all the time would be fast. If someone suggests that you focus exclusively on running without incorporating other proper training inputs or stressors then they are simply being ignorant or not honest and they’ll leave you significantly underperforming. This would be like focusing only on one subject, when your goal is to have a 4.0 GPA.
So, let’s take a closer look at a few qualities that are necessary for optimizing our speed potential, beyond the component of running or drill work.
- Do you have sufficient relative lower body strength? Speed is largely a by-product of force outputs, and if you cannot produce high amounts of force, then you will not be able to produce high degrees of velocity. Fast people are NOT weak, and WEAK people are not fast. Some athletes, especially school-age athletes, need to spend significant time developing new muscles and learning how to drive their nervous system through strength training.
- Do you have proper articulated space (joints)? Do your joints function properly so that you can get into and maintain proper position to express the speed quality? Even a Ferrari with a bad tire cannot reach its top-end potential. For example, if you have insufficient internal rotation capacity in your right hip, how does that negatively affect your gait and speed potential? What other compensations, issues, and injuries do you need to be aware of? If you continue to do “speed” training without resolving the hip issue, you may limit your ability to extend a leg and reach your end speed.
This is just one example of many that we commonly see among athletes. Athletes who are limited in hip internal rotation may be unable to sprint at the speed their body is capable of. Internal rotation of the hip is required to extend the leg behind the body while sprinting, so limiting the ability to extend a leg limits the ability to reach top-end speed.
The reality is that sprinting and sport can decrease the quality of our internal system (joints and other tissues). While sport has tremendous benefits in other areas, exclusively playing sports and doing “speed” training without comprehension in your physical preparation program is like being a professional head-butting athlete who suffers from chronic headaches and neck pain. During the off-season, you just smash your face into brick walls to prepare for the upcoming season because your head-butt wasn’t quite powerful enough last year.
- Is your CNS trained appropriately to maximize end speed? Appropriate training of the central nervous system is the final component we’ll discuss relating to the capacity for speed. For simplicity purposes, max strength->power->speed are the trainable nervous system qualities that can, and should, be trained to maximize top-end sprinting speed. All too often, we see athletes focus too much of their attention on only one component, strength, and ignore training the quality of speed within their resistance training program. Athletes must move moderate weights at higher velocities, and not exclusively move heavy weights slowly. To put it in perspective, you can use the analogy of a rolling F-150 at 2 mph vs a bullet. The truck is substantially heavier at around 5,000lbs, while the bullet weighs about 1/4 pound. The difference is the bullet travels in excess of 1,800 mph vs 2 mph. To maximize your top-end sprinting speed, you MUST train all qualities from the truck to the bullet; otherwise, you’re leaving speed on the table!
If you’re serious about improving your top-end sprinting speed, it’s time to take a comprehensive approach to your training and join the top sports performance training center in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t just focus on running, speed, and agility exercises – consider your strength, joint function, and central nervous system as well. With a well-rounded approach to training, you can unlock your full potential and take your speed to the next level. So, don’t wait – join our comprehensive sports performance program, that includes a strength and speed training program, today and start optimizing your speed potential!