I hope this finds you well. As you can likely tell, the new year has been exceptionally busy. We’ve been having a lot of fun at Endeavor as we have a bunch of soccer and lacrosse teams training with us in preparation for the start of their season, and are working on a couple exciting projects. Unfortunately, that has left almost no time for me write.
Last week I had an opportunity to review an advance copy of Lee Taft’s new “Complete Speed Training” program. Over the last decade I’ve read a bunch of Lee’s work. If you’re seeing his name for the first time, Lee has been widely regarded as one of the leading speed experts in our field for years. He knows his stuff, which is why I blocked out a few hours of my schedule to dive into his new program.
This is NOT speed training
When I first started reading books and articles about speed training, so much of my focus was on learning new “quickness” drills, primarily using cones and ladders. My thought process was pretty simple: sports involved a lot of acceleration and transitional patterns, so focusing on quickness should transfer positively to athletic performance.
There are two fundamental problems with this line of thinking:
The idea that just doing more sprints will make you faster is as flawed as it is pervasive. Speed (or speed development) can be limited by a number of things, including joint mobility, joint stability, mechanics, strength, and when it comes to being able to demonstrate speed consistently in a game, conditioning.
In youth athletes, the primary two limitations I see most commonly are mechanics and strength, of which the strength component is the most often overlooked by parents and coaches. Speed comes down to being able to put force into the ground to propel the body forward. If you can’t produce a lot of force, you can’t be fast. That’s not an opinion; it’s physics.
One of the ways athletes compensate for not being able to produce a lot of force is by over-striding. The general thought is that if they lengthen their stride, they’ll cover more ground with each step. This is true in theory, but when the stride is lengthened by reaching forward, it both increases the braking forces with each stride (the foot hits the ground way out in front of the body, essentially pushing the body backward like a kickstand on a bike) and the risk of injury (this is how hamstrings on the front leg and quads on the back leg get torn).
Having athletes with these limitations simply run more sprints/cone drills/ladders will not help them improve their speed any appreciable amount and may lead to an injury.
THIS is speed training
This is one of the things I loved about Complete Speed Training. Not only does Lee walk through a very comprehensive warm-up, which would help address some of the more common mobility and stability limitations, but he dissects linear, lateral, and transitional movements from a whole body perspective AND integrates speed training drills within a more comprehensive training program that includes strength training and conditioning.
I took a lot away from watching the videos, but here are a few of the highlights:
Tomorrow I have a great guest article from Lee looking at the difference between quick feet and athletic quickness. In the meantime, Complete Speed Training is available at a $100 discount through Friday 2/13. This is an outstanding resource, so if you’re interested in learning effective speed training techniques, getting a quality training program, and saving some loot, grab a copy today!
To your success,
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.