Archive for “Speed Agility Training” Tag

Misuse Of Speed And Agility Training

Speed and Agility Training With Young Athletes

Speed and Agility Training

A lot of people in this field call themselves Strength & Conditioning Coaches. I don’t have a problem with the “Strength” part of the title, but the “Conditioning” part could use a little work.

As a former college S & C Coach, I fully understand the time constraints of the collegiate or high school environment. Running a private facility for athletes, I also understand the limitations of this situation. In both cases, it is very difficult to give every athlete the time and instruction they need. Still, there is one area of our profession that I feel is in desperate need of some attention. That area is what I call Movement Training.

Speed and Agility Training

Recently, I was asked by a college coach what mistakes I have made in the past and what I would do differently if I could re-live the past 6-10 years of my career. At first, like many coaches, my ego didn’t want to admit to any mistakes, especially to another coach. But, after some thought, I realized that the area in which I have the greatest impact on athletes today, I simply did not understand when I was younger.

A few years ago, I thought the best S & C Coach was the one who most fully brutalized his/her athletes. I thought I was supposed to lift my athletes until they puked and condition them until they couldn’t see straight. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that stuff has its place. I love putting athletes through brutally hard workouts, and I think that kind of hard work can have amazing benefits (it also has terrific entertainment value). But, through time, I have gained a better understanding of how to maximize the “Conditioning” or “Speed and Agility Training” part of my job title.

To a lot of coaches, conditioning means creating running programs that enhance the physiological processes involved in aerobic or anaerobic metabolism. You may not think of it this way, but that is essentially what many conditioning programs are designed to do. I have no problem with this. Conditioning sport-specific energy systems is a vital part of athletic success.

Speed and Agility Training

Many coaches also implement speed, agility, and plyometric routines into their programs, and I think it’s great to see coaches making an effort to improve the physical abilities of their athletes. Unfortunately, I see way too many mistakes being made in this area, and I think many coaches are doing their athletes an injustice.

Over the years, we have read articles by some great coaches about specificity, but the full message of these wise men is often lost in an effort to use their message to support our own views. I’m sure you’ve done it. You’ve read an article, and thought to yourself “That’s what I’m talkin’ about. That’s why I do what I do. I’m going to use this article to support my speed and agility training philosophy.”

The articles have been great. They have helped a generation of S & C Coaches formulate their strength training philosophies….strength training philosophies. Why didn’t we see that the same information we’ve applied to strength training can also be used to develop effective speed and agility programs?

In my opinion, a lot of S & C Coaches approach speed and agility training the same way they approach strength training.

They find out what other coaches are doing (through reading summer manuals, watching workouts, etc.), and duplicate it in their environments. This has worked out pretty well for strength training because there are a lot of good Strength and Conditioning Coaches to learn from.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with learning about speed and agility training this way.

First, there are not nearly as many quality speed and agility coaches to learn from.

Second, most of us didn’t learn anything about effective movement patterns in school.

Third, proper coaching of speed and agility training for young athletes is highly dependent on coaching prowess, movement analysis, and the ability to understand proper movement patterns. It is more like teaching a sport skill; instructor knowledge is vital, and you can’t just apply a cookie-cutter approach like many coaches do with strength training. Nonetheless, we’ve learned our speed and agility drills from Strength Coaches not Speed and Agility coaches.

The best case scenario for many of us was to learn a few drills from a track coach or catch an article outlining a couple of exercises. This kind of coaching just doesn’t cut it. I believe that movement training falls under the “Conditioning” part of our job title, and it’s time we take full responsibility for this important part of our jobs.

I like to call speed and agility training “movement training” because the goal is to train athletes how to move more efficiently. The problem with most movement training is the assumption that if we put some cones or hurdles out in a cool design and have our athletes run through them, we are making an impact on their movement patterns.

speed and agility training

The truth is, we’re not. All we’re doing is helping them reinforce whatever movement patterns they are using to get through the drill. Take a few minutes to re-read some of those specificity articles, and I think you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

I have had the good fortune of working with, observing, and learning from a lot of good sport coaches and instructors. I have never seen a good basketball coach allow players to take hundreds of jump shots with poor shooting technique, and I have never seen a good baseball coach let players pitch and hit with poor mechanics. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of Strength Coaches allow athletes to perform hours of agility drills using horrible technique.

A lot of coaches assume that if the athletes are going through the drills, their athleticism will improve. But, the benefits of performing speed and agility drills are dramatically reduced if the athletes are not executing them with sound mechanics and learning proper technique. If the coach is unable to analyze the movement and give corrective feedback, what good is he/she doing for the athletes?

There are still a lot of questions about speed and agility training and movement training especially with young athletes, but there are certainly some answers and a lot of room for us to improve. I look forward to examining this misunderstood aspect of our profession in more detail with you in the future.


 

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Designing The Right Speed & Agility Training Program

 

Speed & Agility Training Program Design

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Training athletes in speed & agility can be some difficult business.

Without a plan in mind of how to train a speed session, what can start as a speed session can crumble into a conditioning workout, with no lasting effects on an athlete’s ability to move quickly.
 

When I am training athletes in speed & agility I find it necessary to first, break it down into the component parts that I would like to train,and second assess the size of the group that I will be working with.
 

Lets start with what we need to train.
 

Linear and Lateral Technique
The first thing we should address with any group of any size is the technical components that will make the athletes better and safer. For linear technique we must analyze the most common ways that linear speed are expressed:
 

Is it from a 3 point stance, 2 point stance, split stance, from a slower pace?
 

This will guide our use of acceleration training and allow us to coach the young athletes on the proper start positions.
 

Lateral technique will focus on the lateral gait cycle and change of direction body positions. This type of training should be done with any group regardless of age and size of the group.
 

Linear and Lateral Power
The next phase of training will involve using different implements or tools to create more power for your athletes. Typically we will use sleds, weighted vests, medicine balls, or resistance bands to improve power in both the linear sprinting/acceleration and in lateral deceleration or acceleration
 

Linear and Lateral Reaction
When training reaction we are trying to improve the athletes ability to perceive the action and make the appropriate reaction. Drills in this category include change of direction with visual or verbal cues and acceleration drills on visual cues
 

Next lets move onto the size of the group, as this will determine the types of drills and equipment that we can use.
 

Less than 3 athletes
With less than 3 athletes training the coaching can be very intensive and the athletes can receive direction on technique with any and all drills. Very rarely in this situation will you be limited with the amount of equipment needed to complete a drill. Rest times will have to be accounted for through the training plan to make sure that the athletes get quality repetitions.
 

Small group – Less than 10-15 athletes
Training in groups smaller than 10 may limit your ability to train the group with equipment that you have on hand. If equipment is to be used it will be necessary to partner up the young athletes or go in a rotation. Your ability to instruct will not be limited, but should be planned out in the speed & agility training program for the day.
 

Large group – More than 15 athletes
With a group of more than 15 athletes restrictions on equipment become a primary concern, typically with groups this size or larger choices of equipment should be easily transportable (cones, small bands) and be plentiful. Instruction time should be mapped out before hand and should be deliberate. Large groups should be divided into smaller groups, this will allow for instruction between repetitions. Rest intervals in large groups are less necessary to plan because a normal rotation of drills and groups will allow for even, or positive rest periods.
 

With groups of any size it is important to approach Speed & Agility with the same type of deliberate plan that is often reserved for strength training. Doing so will insure that your session will not turn into glorified conditioning work, but will instead develop real, true speed, wow coaches and grow your business.