Unteachable speed is a trait that most coaches desire to see in their athletes. Having an individual on your team who has blistering pace that they were genetically blessed with is rare, but welcome when it does occur. However, being able to help all athletes make small improvements in their speed may be even more of a desireable trait as a coach or stregnth coach, etc. There are three main components that contribute to an athlete’s ability to run fast: strength, power, and mechanics. Strength is characterized as the ability to produce a great amount fo force against a given resistance. Power comes from the rapid contraction of a large amount of muscle fiber all at once, due to a well trained central nervous system. Finally, running mechanics describe the body’s positioning during running and the forces applied to and by the body based on how the body is moving. We have discussed running mechanics at length in other articles and videos, and therefore this article will discuss strength and power and their effect on speed.

Related Articles:
Creating A Culture For Interns
What Type Of Power Do You Need?
Protein Value And USDA Standards

As previously stated, strength is the ability to produce force against a given resistance. Quite simply, stronger muscles that contribute to running (Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, etc.) have the ability to produce more force and the capability to move the legs faster. Common exercises to train these muslce groups are squats, lunges, deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, RDLs, goodmornings, among many others. At SMARTER Team Training, we utilize many Rogers Athletic Pendulum Series pieces to train these groups – the Power Squat Pro, Glute Ham, Reverse Glute Ham, Seated Squat Pro, and Hamstring Curl. The advantage to these pieces is the decreased risk of injury and lifting experience to still increase strength. With only a barbell, an athlete must be relatively experienced, especially when heavier weights become involved, to avoid injury and continue developing strength. In addition to greater force production, stronger agonist, antagonist, and synergist muscles can contribute to speed in a different way by improving running mechanics. For instance, if the knee tends to cave toward the midline (valgus collapse) during stride, strengthening the gluteus medius muscle (in addition to the other glutes and the hamstrings) can help to stabilize the knee and keep it in line with the direction of toe point, making each step more efficient and decreasing chance of a knee injury. Power is very similar to strength, the main difference being that power is time dependent, meaning that the faster the movement, the more power is generated. The speed at which this occurs is due to most of the musculature in the body contracting simultaneously, or at least very, very rapidly. Therefore, training to increase power output is very much a neurological concept. For example, the first gains in stength (in a new lifter) are due to new connections being made at the neuromuscular junctions and within the central nervous system. As these connections are created or rediscovered, the body can tell more muscle to contract and it occurs more efficiently – leading to more strength and also more power. In terms of running, increasing power can improve what the stregnth gains that are already contributing. A foot that is put into the ground in the correct postition will be fast. A foot put into the ground, supported by a strong leg and hip will be faster; and a strong foot/leg/hip that has been trained explosively with the goal of maximum power output will be fastest.

The three components to increasing speed all go hand in hand; they are all related and improving one can in turn improve all the others. That being said, none should be ignored, and none should be treated any more importantly than the others. With young athletes, mechanics are usually the first thing that need to be addressed. Once a young individual understands how to move well and athletically, strength can be addressed and gains will be made relatively quickly. Finally, when he or she understands how to move well and can also control the body through a number of different lifts, lifting can be done in an explosive manner in order to increase power output capabilities and therefore improve speed.

Be sure to visit STTEvents.com to see when STT will be hosting professional development clinics in your area. Be sure to register early for the #12SCADConf on July 20-21, 2018.

Tennis players have to be strong, fast, mobile, quick, fit, and nearly every other athletic quality too. Participating in a year round athletic development program has so many benefits for the athletes that choose to play the game of tennis. Find our more about our #TennisPT program when you CLICK HERE.

Be sure to take advantage of the professional development courses we host each year. The public clinics and conference schedule are posted on STTEvents.com. Register early. They sell out quick! Read what attendees have said about their experience with STT here too.

The Power Squat Pro may be the easiest training tool to put an athlete in the correct squatting position safely, effectively, and EXTREMELY time efficiently. Watch the vids with you CLICK HERE.

Thank you to all our sponsors for their support. Rogers Athletic offers the best on-field and at-practice equipment for Football. Plus they also feature the Pendulum Strength line which is featured at SMARTER Team Training’s facility and events around the country.