Archive for “speed” Tag

Acceleration Mechanics – Jim Kielbaso

Acceleration mechanics are incredibly important to address with athletes who need to improve their speed.  This is a “behind-the-scenes” video of Jim Kielbaso teaching acceleration mechanics to a group of athletes preparing for the NFL Combine.

Jim has done other videos and written articles on acceleration mechanics, but rather than just talking about it, this video shows him actually teaching athletes so you get to see exactly how he explains things.

Some of the main points covered in this video include what Jim calls the Power Position, stride length, body lean, knee drive, head position and an explanation about WHY all of these things will increase an athlete’s speed.

Being able to teach these concepts in a cohesive way is important for any coach responsible for speed and agility training with athletes.  While this video shows how acceleration mechanics are explained to experienced athletes, the same mechanics also need to be addressed with younger athletes using different language and teaching cues.

Of course, you don’t have to use the same exact language and cues in your teaching, but this video will give you plenty of ideas for how you can teach your own athletes about acceleration mechanics.  Take the words and video demonstrations that Jim uses in the video and create your own system of teaching athletes this important concept.

We also encourage you to share this video with other coaches and even use it when teaching athletes.

The IYCA Certified Speed & Agility Specialist course and certification go into depth on acceleration mechanics, top end speed, agility mechanics & drills, programming for speed, and programming for different ages.  It includes 69 videos, several done-for-you programs and a 249-page manual that is the most comprehensive written material on speed development in the industry.

Click on the image below to learn more about the IYCA CSAS

acceleration mechanics from the IYCA

Why Your Speed Program Isn’t Working

Is Your Speed Training Program Working?

There are two reasons that Coach and Speed Expert Jim Kielbaso says your speed training programs are NOT working!

This 3 minute video can change your programs forever!


Become Speed & Agility Certified

Coach Kielbaso has used this “speed equation” to become the leader in Speed Training, working with athletes from youth to collegiate, olympic, NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

You can learn from him today. Check out the Speed & Agility Specialist Certification to get started!!

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The Ultimate Speed Training Equation

3 Essential Principles of Speed Training

Speed Expert Jim Kielbaso’s equation for speed training success is very simple:

Force + Power + Mechanics = Speed

Check out this short video and learn how these 3 principles can super-charge athletic performance!


Become Speed & Agility Certified

Coach Kielbaso has used this “speed equation” to become the leader in Speed Training, working with athletes from youth to collegiate, olympic, NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

You can learn from him today. Check out the Speed & Agility Specialist Certification to get started!!

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Looking for some fresh ideas to develop speed?

Download our FREE Youth Speed Training E-book and try these proven speed workouts to make your next training session a breeze.

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Speed & Agility Training to Improve Sport Performance

speed

Speed and Agility Training To Improve Sports Performance

by Todd Durkin

Speed kills. Speed and agility training in sport gives an athlete an edge on his/her competition. And the great news is that it can all be learned through technique training, proper drills, and hard work. If you’re wanting and willing to get faster, let’s dive (or sprint!) into the action.

In this article, you will learn all about improving your speed and agility training. You will learn about stride rate, stride length, and proper running mechanics. You will learn several different speed improvement training drills, exercises, and programs that will enable you to reach new levels in your sport.

And you will learn:

  • Best strength exercises for speed development
  • Top technique tips for speed performance
  • Power and plyometrics to develop fast-twitch muscle fiber
  • Nutrition for optimal fueling
  • Top recovery strategies

So don’t be left in the dust. Dive into the article and find out all the in’s and out’s of improving your speed and agility.

SPEED TRAINING

Speed and Agility Training

First off, let’s understand speed training and its components. Here are the phases of Speed Training:

  • Dynamic Warm-Up (see below; not really a phase of speed training but essential to include prior to speed training)
  • Mechanics
  • Acceleration (reaching maximum speed in the shortest amount of time possible)
  • Top-End Speed
  • Deceleration
  • Change of Direction (Agility & Quickness)

As we talk about speed training, it is necessary to understand the following principles:

  • “Stride Frequency”: The number of strides taken in a given amount of time or distance. This is improved via technique drills, cycling, towing, sprinting and bungee work.
  • “Stride Length”: The distance covered from one stride when sprinting.  Strength and flexibility are the most important factors to improve stride length.

All great speed and agility training programs should be preceded by a great General Warm-up and Dynamic Warm-up. A general warm-up is 5-10 minutes of exercise to begin elevating core tissue temperature, increase heart rate, and prepare the body for a workout or competition. Examples will include running, treadmill, jumping rope, elliptical, or bike.

One would then proceed into the Dynamic Warm-Up

Speed and Agility Training Dynamic Warm-Up:

Should be performed before every workout, practice or competition, and should take approximately 5-25 minutes.

The purpose of the Dynamic Warm-Up is to: Increase tissue temperature, improve flexibility, activate the nervous system, and help coordination and develop body awareness. It also lengthens fascia.

What is Fascia? Fascia is a specialized system of the body (connective tissue) which plays an important role in the support of our bodies. Fascia is a very dense connective tissue which envelops every muscle, bone, nerve, artery, and vein as well as our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. When fascia becomes constricted, it becomes tight, creates great pressure on its structures and becomes a great source of tension to the body. 

The methods utilized to perform a dynamic warm-up are:

Movement in Space: (10-20 yards)

  • High knees
  • Butt-kicks
  • Cariocas
  • Exagerated Cariocas
  • A-Skips
  • B-Skips
  • Frankenstein Walks (& skips)
  • Lunge with rotation
  • Reverse lunge with reach over top
  • Side-lunges

Stationary:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Gate swings
  • Pogo hops
  • Seal jacks
  • Arm circles
  • Trunk rotations
  • Cats & Dogs
  • Downard Dog
  • Scorpion Kicks
  • 1 Legged Windshield wipers
  • Bodyweight Squats

Perform each movement approx. 10-20 seconds.

Before a workout or competition, the emphasis is on a dynamic warm-up.

After a workout, the emphasis should be on static stretching and myofascial release.

Speed and Agility Training Flexibility:

Speed and Agility Training

Every time after you workout, practice or compete, there should be stretching that involves holding each stretch 20 seconds to 1 minute,  and it should take 10 minutes minimally. Using a stretch rope, you should concentrate on your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves, trunk and opening the chest and shoulders. The methods utilized to stretch are rope chest stretch, standing rotator cuff stretch, kneeling hip flexor stretch, cats & dogs, downward dog, lying rope hamstring stretch, lying rope lower back stretch, lying rope groin stretch, side-lying rope quad stretch, walking soldiers. Foam rolling (ie. The Grid or a foam roller) & a massage stick are essential to do on your own to promote fascia lengthening and recovery. This can be performed both before and after the workout.

When assessing speed, one of the most critical aspects is acceleration. Acceleration is defined as the ability and time it takes for the body to reach Top End Speed. 

Mechanics and technique for acceleration include:

  • Foot Contact behind hip
  • Body angle at 45 degrees/Straight line from heel to neck
  • Chin to chest
  • Head down

Some of the best technique acceleration drills include:

  • Marches along wall
  • Wall Runs
  • 3, 5, 7, 9 step wall sprints

STRENGTH, SPEED & ACCELERATION

Speed and Agility Training

A huge part of speed and agility training is acceleration, it is important to train and strengthen the posterior chain of the body—glutes, hamstrings, lower back, mid-back, and even the calves & feet. Some of the most effective methods and strength exercises to improve acceleration include:

  • Sled Drags & Sled Pulls
  • Resisted Towing
  • Tire Flips
  • Plate Pushes
  • Keiser Air Runner
  • Bullet Belt
  • Super Band Leap Frogs
  • Form running in place & move out
  • Legged Romanian Deadlifts
  • Calf Raises (Double & Single Leg)
  • Swiss Ball Leg Curls
  • TRX Hip Extensions/Bicycles, Leg Curls
  • Hyperextensions (Glute/Ham)
  • Barefoot Balance Touches (on airex pad)
  • Planks
  • Pullups

Once one achieves top-end speed (T.E.S.), the mechanics then change. Now, technique is a bit different:

  • Foot Contact now under hip
  • Body is upright
  • Upper body relaxed
  • Arms swinging 90-120 degrees from waist to chin; drive elbows back!
  • T.E.S. typically reached at approximately 20-30 yards on a linear sprint

Some drills to reinforce Top End Speed Mechanics/Technique Drills include:

  • Arm swing drills
  • Fast Claw Drill
  • Marches
  • Skipping

Some of the best exercises and methods to improve acceleration and T.E.S. include:

  • Uphill running
  • Stadium Steps
  • Resisted Speed Drills (bungees)
  • Assisted Over-speed training with bungee
  • High speed treadmill

Best Strength Exercises to Improve Overall Speed (& acceleration):

  • Squats (2 legged & 1 legged)
  • Step-ups
  • Lunges (variations)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Plate Pushes
  • Sled Drags
  • Plyometrics (squat jumps, lunge hops, Box jumps, leap frogs, vertimax, etc.)
  • Olympic Lifts (snatch, clean & jerk, clean, power shrugs) (power development)
  • Core Conditioning (ie. hyperextensions, Glute/Ham Raise, Russian twists, Bosu Core, med ball standing twists, med ball standing windmills, med ball seated sidewinders, med ball side-tosses into wall, med ball throws (straight up), etc…
  • Pullups
  • Weighted arm swings

3 Tips for Speed Performance: (credit to Patrick Beith)

Tip 1 – Drive Phase – Don’t force yourself to “stay low”

Speed and Agility Training

The drive phase happens right after you react to the starting gun. Your initial 8 -10 steps is considered your drive phase. The biggest problem seen with athletes in the drive phase is that athletes are ‘trying’ to stay too low. Keep the body angle at about 45 degrees and keep the heel of the recovery leg low to the ground during the first 8 strides. Drive the foot into the ground and explode powerfully backwards to create maximum ground reaction force. Drive your elbows backwards and keep your head down. You should be in a straight line from your heels to your head.

Tip 2 – Acceleration Phase
In this phase, you want to think “powerful.” Since the acceleration phase (0-30 yards) is associated with a higher stride frequency then at maximum speed, focus on leg drive. You want to keep the feet behind your center of mass so that you can maximize leg drive.  “Head down and drive.”

Tip 3 – Relaxation 
One of the most challenging things to do is to stay relaxed while sprinting full speed. I often look at my athlete’s cheeks to see if they are running with “puppy dog” cheeks. If an athlete is too tense, their jaw will be tight and they will be tensing their entire body.

If you see an athlete with a tight face, eyes squinting, teeth clenched, elevated shoulders, and tight fists, they are actually slowing themselves down. You have to let your muscles work for you and not against to maximize your speed potential. This is a tough concept to learn and MUST be practiced if you want get the most out of our speed.

Relax and let your speed come to you!

There is an often forgot about third component to speed and agility training – and it is quickness. Let’s look at the difference.

Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions as quickly as possible in the shortest amount of time possible

  • Closely related to balance
  • Should be able to move forward, backwards, left, & right all very well

Quickness is the ability to react to a stimulus in the environment in the shortest amount of time possible (a whistle, clap, defender, etc.)

  • Closely related to reaction time
  • Could be foot quickness or hand-eye quickness

Factors affecting Agility & Quickness:

  • Ground Reaction Forces
  • Reaction Time
  • Acceleration & Deceleration
  • Starting quickness (1st step quickness)
  • Cutting
  • Cross-over ability

Drills/Methodologies to Influence Agility & Quickness:

  • Line Drills—runs back & forth, jumping jack feet, front hops, side hops, Ali shuffles, 1-legged lateral hops, 1-legged front hops
  • 5 dot drill
  • Mirror Drill
  • Tag Drill
  • Cone Drills (cone circles, box drill)
  • Bag Drills (shuffles, figure 8’s, shuffle & figure 8’s)
  • Agility Ladder drills (1 foot in each rung, sideways 2 feet in each rung, Ali shuffles, Icky Shuffles, NFL crossover drills)
  • BOSU foot Quickness Drills
  • Deceleration Drills
    • Sprint & stop
    • Sprint & stop and repeat
  • Super Band overspeed/resisted speed drills (running forward & backward or left & right with Super Band; works acceleration & deceleration)

* Incorporate hand-eye coordination into any of these drills for additional quickness/reaction time.

To include hand-eye coordination and reaction time, you can include drills such as:

  • Reaction ball drills (drops, rolls, into rebounder)
  • Card Catch drills
  • BOLA catches

Furthermore, if you are needing to increase your agility and quickness, you can use the same aforementioned exercises to improve your speed. Due to the fact that agility often is lateral quickness or involves cutting, it is imperative that the groins & hips are adequately worked also. The following exercises will augment the strength exercises found in the speed & acceleration section:

  • Diagonal Lunges
  • Slide Board
  • Lateral Band Walks
  • Side Lunges
  • Dirty Dogs
  • Horse-Back Riding

POWER for Speed and Agility Training

If an athlete really wants to reach full potential, they must be able to convert their strength into power. Power is defined as the ability of the neuro-muscular system to create a force rapidly. In its simplest term, power = strength + speed

  • Strength– the maximal amount of force a muscle can generate under a given set of conditions
  • Speed– the ability to move from one point to another point as fast as possible

Methodologies to improve power:

  • Olympic lifting
  • Plyometrics
  • Strength training with speed component

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to concentrate on plyometrics to improve power (along with strength). Plyometrics is a system of hopping, skipping, jumping, or running that works on developing explosive power and maximally recruiting fast-twitch muscle fiber by eccentrically loading a muscle and quickly producing a concentric force. Plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. The faster the eccentric movement (the loading phase), the more stored elastic energy will be released, resulting in a more explosive jump.

Benefits of plyometrics:

  • Improves power & elasticity
  • Trains the nervous system
  • Improves anaerobic conditioning
  • Transformation of muscle strength into power
  • Recruitment of most motor units and their corresponding muscle fibers
  • Develops fast twitch muscle fiber!!!

Rules of plyometrics:

  • Perform on soft surface
  • Do early in your routine
  • Land softly
  • Have adequate strength base before introducing advanced levels of plyometrics (approx. 10 weeks of resistance training)
  • No pain should be experienced in joints
  • Be attentive to form & technique
  • Be sure to stretch & work on strength & flexibility when using plyometrics as part of program
  • Use a 1:3 work/rest ratio for most plyometric exercises
  • Can be performed in many ways:
    • immediately after dynamic warm-up
    • Infuse it during your workout and perform immediately after a strength exercise (complex training)
    • Can be performed on speed days also performed as separate sessions

3 Basic Categories of Lower Body Plyometric Exercises:

  • Jumping—taking off on one or two feet; landing on 2 feet (jumping jacks, leap frogs)
  • Hopping—taking off on one foot and landing on same foot (single leg hopping over line)
  • Bounding—taking off on one foot and landing on other foot (alternate leg bounds)

3 Stages of Plyometric Program Design:

Off-Season (General Conditioning)—2 to 3 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Pre-Season (Sport Specific)—2 to 3 times per week; 100-150 foot contacts

In-Season (Sport Specific Maintenance)—1 to 2 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Speed and Agility Training

3 Levels of Plyometrics

Beginning

  • Jumping Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Line jumps & hops
  • Squat jumps
  • Tuck jumps
  • Skater plyos
  • Overhead Medicine Ball Tosses
  • Med Ball Chest Passes
  • Plyo Pushups on floor
  • Medicine Ball rotational ab twists into wall

 Moderate

  • Box jumps
  • Lateral box jumps
  • 1 legged jumps (front & lateral)
  • Supine medicine ball push presses (to partner)
  • 1-legged lateral bounds
  • Plyo situps
  • Med ball throws into ground (with twist)
  • Explosive pushups onto 2 steppers
  • Explosive pushups onto 1 stepper
  • Med ball push press to partner into plyo pushup & repeat
  • Abdominal leg throws
  • Med ball overhead tosses, sprint, and retrieve

Advanced

  • Depth Jumps
  • Depth Jump with multiple repeats
  • Single leg triple jumps
  • Smith Machine Bench Press Throws to partner
  • Add another exercise to upper & lower body
  • Keiser Air Runner or double leap frongs
  • Increase height of box
  • Incorporate single leg movements
  • Use weighted vests

Recovery for Speed and Agility Training

With all this focus on proper training to improve overall athleticism, it is necessary to  address one critical aspect to an athlete receiving maximum benefits from their training. It is called RECOVERY & REGENERATION. The following components play a critical role in determining how quickly an athlete can recover. The quicker the athlete can recover, the quicker they can train or perform again. Let’s take a look at a couple key components of recovery:

1) Nutrition is step one

  • Protein is step one; we want to increase protein synthesis. One should consume approximately 1 g per lb. of body weight.
  • A protein and carb drink promotes glycogen recovery faster than a carb drink alone following a workout. This helps stimulate protein synthesis.
  • Good nutrition controls insulin, glucagon, leptin, and other very important hormones.

insulin—stores nutrients into cells
leptin—follows insulin & caloric intake/deposition
glucagon—releases fat
Nutrient Timing does play a role in overall nutrition

2) Flexibility (see beginning of article)

  • Static Stretching
  • Yoga

3) Foam Roller or Massage Stick (Self-Myofascial Release)

4) Bodywork (massage, Rolfing, Optimal Performance Bodywork, etc.)

5) Infrared Saunas

6) SupplementationSpeed and Agility Training

  • Fish oils & Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM
  • Multi-vitamin & mineral Complex
  • B12

7) Sleep

During sleep, the production of growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1 are at their peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the healing of tissues throughout the body. Testosterone and IGF-1 are anabolic hormones that are important in muscle growth and assist in recovery also. It is recommended that you get at least 8 hours of sleep when trying to optimize hormone-release and recovery.

Now that you have the tools, it’s time to implement the game-plan and begin working towards improving performance and designing a great speed and agility program. If you combine training hard, the correct methodologies, along with ample recovery & regeneration techniques, it is then that you can maximize your strength, speed, and power development. GO GET IT!!!


What to learn how to teach speed mechanics like the pros?

Check out Ultimate Speed Mechanics

 


 

About the Author

Todd Durkin is an internationally-recognized strength and conditioning coach who works with numerous NFL, MLB, and NBA athletes. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, and the author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. For more information, visit www.ToddDurkin.com or follow him on Twitter at @ToddDurkin. 

Misuse Of Speed and Agility Drills

Coaching Mistakes With Speed And Agility For Athletes Training

jim kielbaso 2

Alot 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.

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.

Conditioning via Speed and Agility For Athletes?

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 drills

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 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 programs when it comes to speed and agility for athletes?

In my opinion, a lot of S & C Coaches approach speed and agility for athletes 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.

Speed and Agility For Athletes

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with learning about speed and agility or athletes 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 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 Speedand 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 work “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. 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 movement training, 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.

If you want to learn how I coach speed and agility for athletes in my programs check out Ultimate Speed Drills.

Speed and Agility For Athletes

 

 

Speed and Agility Drills Defined

Learn How To Select The Perfect Speed and Agility Drills For Your Athletes

How do you go about selecting speed and agility drills for your athletes daily use and instruction? If you were like me you would choose the ones that you like, equal parts lateral and linear and then write them in the program. You would probably use some progressions from simple to complex.

Well that is what I used to do.

Recently our speed and agility programming has become systemized in a similar way as our strength training. This has helped our athletes to become much better at the skill of speed and agility. We are able to determine where each athlete is struggling and design the program to improve in that area.

Speed and Agility 1

Is the young athlete struggling in recognition?

Is their technique lacking?

Are they not powerful enough to explode out cuts?

To actually break up speed and agility programming into the parts we need to focus on, it is important to understand what it is that can improve through speed and agility drills.

In terms of linear speed there are 2 primary areas in which we can see improvement.

The first of those is in the technique of the movement. By improving technique we are truly working to improve the athletes ability to achieve biomechanically advantageous positions. We look to improve the athletes overall body position in the acceleration phase of linear sprinting, the position of foot contact, and the use of the arms during acceleration

Secondly we look to improve power production or maximal explosive strength in the early phases of acceleration. Training for power, in speed events can effect maximum strength, as well as bring about neuromuscular changes.

When it comes to lateral speed there are again 2 primary areas in which we can look to cause improvement.

Again we will look to see improvement in the athletes technique of movement. Of greatest concern to us is the athletes overall and specific foot position and the hip height during the change of direction maneuver.

speed and agility

The second area and often overlooked area of change of direction that we will seek to improve is mental cognition. The speed of change of direction movements is often determined by the athlete’s ability to recognize and process the information being presented to them, and their ability to react to the given stimulus.

Using these 4 categories where we can effect the most change we have devised a “4 puzzle piece” speed and agility training program for athletes.

Puzzle Piece 1: Linear Speed Training Technique

Piece 1 focuses on creating the foundations upon which we can build power and speed. All the power in the world will be for nothing if the athlete cannot get in, and maintain the correct positions.

speed and agility

A variety of drills can be used for training linear speed, but being that it is the “skill of speed” we are trying to improve, each needs to be coaching intensive. Simple 10 yd sprints from a split stance can allow you to get athletes in the correct starting position, with hands and weight distribution just as you would like to see them.

Puzzle Piece 2: Linear Power

Improving linear power is greatly dependent upon an athlete’s strength and explosive strength training, that being said the cyclic nature of sprinting requires that time be devoted in the training process to cyclic power development.

To improve cyclic power resisted sprints of a short distance with long rest periods are the most appropriate training method. Prowler push sprints, sled drag sprints, and band resisted sprints all fit this mode. While the actual technique of sprinting may be altered slightly, the focus is on the rapid and repeated development of power.

Puzzle Piece 3: Lateral Speed Training Technique

Piece 3 gets us to the basics of lateral change of direction. Many athletes lack the necessary tools to cut and change direction effectively to start with: developing the proper foot position in relation to the body, the proper foot position in relation to the ground and the proper hip height are the areas of focus.

Short distance single plane movements start this progression e.g. 1 shuffle step to a cut. We progress our athletes to greater distances and then add new directions of movement out of the cut or new types of movement into the cut e.g. crossover 10 yards to sprint.

Puzzle Piece 4: Complex, Recognition Lateral Speed Training

Speed and Agility 2

The last piece of the puzzle is using cognitive skills to more closely replicate the conditions of game play. The speed of lateral movement is determined by an athlete’s ability to recognize and react to the stimulus on the field.

A great drill for this is our “5 Cone Drill.” With 5 different colored cones spaced evenly in a line the coach should use verbal or visual cues to let the athlete know what cone they must move towards. The type of movment (shuffle, crossover, sprint) should be determined beforehand, and the athlete will move to the cone using that movement pattern.

Using these 4 pieces to design your speed and agility training will allow you to see where your athletes are lacking ability and improve in just that area. Your athletes and your program will benefit from taking a new approach to speed and agility.

 

Speed and Agility Training Program for Youth Football

Making a Speed and Agility Training Program Work for Everyone

There is often a disconnect between what we know is the ideal training for young athletes and what parents/coaches want for them—especially when it comes to a speed and agility training program.

We know through our education and in-the-trenches experience how to devise an athletic development program and implement it with athletes of various abilities and sports interests.

On the other hand, parents and coaches all too often adopt a “results now” mentality, and they’ve been fed loads of misinformation to boot. What are we to do when the opportunity presents itself to work with an entire youth league of athletes with a board president and coaches who have a philosophy that doesn’t match our ideals?

Make sure you keep your focus on their needs by asking questions—and a lot of them. You will gain the trust of the coaching staff when they know you are there to help them versus taking control over any aspect of their practice sessions.

If you do this with care and patience, the outcome can be very beneficial to your business and most importantly to the young athletes involved.

Youth Football Training Program Case Study

Speed and agility training programAfter several conversations with the president of the youth football league and some of his coaches, I was able to ascertain the areas they were most concerned with. They were, in their words:

1. “Revamping the warm up” to get the kids ready to play

2. Agility in small spaces

3. Injury prevention

Once we narrowed it down to these specifics, I could devise a game plan. They did not want the new programming to be intrusive to their practice time or ability to coach football.

Keep in mind the relationship with the president of this youth football league began nearly 2 years ago. Be patient when engaging coaches.

The outcome was to implement a pre-written youth football training program for every age group in the youth football league that the coaches would learn and implement for every practice.

What we gained from this exchange was exposure to every football player from 1st grade through 8th grade and the buy in of every coach. You just can’t buy that type of exposure for your business.

Upon completion of the last practice session, we set a time for the coaches and I to meet in order to troubleshoot any issues they were having.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Speed and Agility Training Program

Our situation was far from ideal. The coaches had limited time to learn their new programs. I only had one practice session with each team, and there was not enough time to include everything I wanted. Therefore, I knew the programs had to be prioritized.

The speed and agility training program had to deliver what the president and coaches asked for, and it had to be simple enough for both coaches and players to learn.

Templates Put into Action for Each Program

Not included are the descriptions and key points for each age group that were provided for each coach.

Pembroke Titans Football Mighty Mites (1st & 2nd Grade)

–Warm Up–
1. Reactive Game or Fun Activity
    a. Simon Says
    b. Tag Variations
    c. Movement Mirroring (coach or each other)
    d. Rhythm Machine (clapping)
    e. Coach’s Choice
2. Monster Walks
3. Bear Crawls
4. Dragon Walks
5. Log Rolls

–Speed/Agility/Strength = Coordination Training–
1. Scramble to Balance 2x Each leg
2. Rats/Rabbits
3. Red Light – Green Light (add football themed lights)
4. Push Up Hold/High Fives (partners)

–Speed and Agility–
1. Dynamic Repeats (run to stop)
2. Dynamic Repeats with Return (run, stop and return)
3. 4 x 4 x 4 Drill (survive for 7 seconds)
4. Bear Crawl to Hand Taps 6:4
5. Forward Crab Walk to Table Top 6:1

–Cool Down–
It is so important to give parents and coaches what they want while staying true to your beliefs as a coach. Below is a perfect example.

A formal cool down is not necessary from a developmental standpoint and static stretching is not advised for this age group. To acclimate the kids to a structure and expectation for future youth football practices, you can put them through the following passive active stretching activities.

1. Cobra 2 Second Hold x 5
2. Alternating Knee Hugs x 5 Each
3. Around the Worlds 2x Each Leg


Pembroke Titans Football Mites (3rd & 4th Grade)

–Warm up–
1. Activity – Game, Laps, etc…Coaches Choice
2. Spiderman 2 x 10
3. Alternating Supine Extension 20 Second Hold
4. Squat to Stand 2 x 5 (squat, knees out, arms up and stand)
5. Prone Extensions 2 x 8
6. Lunge with Toe Touch 1 x 10 Each
Speed and agility training program 67. Dynamic Warm Up
    a. Skipping Patterns
         i. Straight
         ii. High
         iii. Back
         iv. Side
    b. Knee Hugs 1 x 10
    c. Butt Kicks
    d. Straight Leg March 1 x 10
    e. Heel Walks/Toe Walks 1 x 10 Each
    f. Side Shuffle/Carioca (tight) 10 yds Each x 2

–Speed and Agility–
1. Dynamic Repeats (run to stop)
2. Dynamic Repeats with Return (run, stop and return)
3. 4 x 4 x 4 Drill (survive for 7 seconds)
4. Bear Crawl to Hand Taps 6:4
5. Forward Crab Walk to Table Top 6:1

Speed and agility training program 7–Cool Down–
1. Static Stretching
    a. Hamstrings
    b. Inner Thigh
    c. ITB/Hips
    d. Cobra Stretch
    e. Calf Stretch

Choice as needed


Pembroke Titans Football Pee Wees (5th & 6th Grade)

–Warm up–
1. Activity – Game, Laps, etc…Coaches Choice
2. Spiderman/Inside Elbow to Ground 2 x 10
3. Alternating Supine Extension 2 x 8 Each Side
4. Squat to Stand 2 x 5 (squat, knees out, arms up and stand)
5. Prone Extensions 2 x 10
6. Lateral Lunge with Toe Touch 1 x 10 Each
7. Dynamic Warm Up
    a. Skipping Patterns
         i. Straight
         ii. High
         iii. Back
         iv. Side
    b. Knee Hugs 1 x 10
    c. Butt Kicks
    d. Straight Leg March 1 x 10
    e. Heel Walks/Toe Walks 1 x 10 Each
    f. Side Shuffle/Carioca (tight) 10 yds Each x 2

–Speed and Agility–
1. Pro Agility
    a. 5-Hold-10
    b. 5-10-Hold
    c. 5-10-5
2. 4 x 4 x 4 Drill (survive for 7 seconds)
3. Bear Crawl to Push Up 6:1
4. Forward Crab Walk to Table Top 6:1

–Cool Down–
1. Static Stretching
    a. Hamstrings
    b. Inner Thigh
    c. ITB/Hips
    d. Cobra Stretch
    e. Calf Stretch

Choice as needed


Pembroke Titans Football Midgets (7th & 8th Grade)

–Warm up–
1. Activity – Game, Laps, etc…Coaches Choice
2. Spiderman with Hip Lift 2 x 10
3. Supine Extension with Rotation 2 x 8 Each Side
4. Squat to Stand 2 x 5 (squat, knees out, arms up and stand)
5. Atlas Stretch 2 x 6 Each
6. Prone Extensions 2 x 10
7. Alternating Lateral Lunge Walk 1 x 10
8. Dynamic Warm Up
    a. Skipping Patterns
         i. Straight
         ii. High
         iii. Back
         iv. Side
    b. Knee Lift/Heel Lift 1 x 10
    c. Straight Leg March 1 x 10
    d. Cradles
    e. Heel Walks/Toe Walks 1 x 10 Each

–Speed and Agility–
1. Pro Agility
    a. 5-Hold-10
    b. 5-10-Hold
    c. 5-10-5
2. 4 x 4 x 4 Drill (survive for 7 seconds)
3. Turn and Burn (Hip turn and go)
4. Bear Crawl to Push Up 6:1
5. Forward Crab Walk to Table Top 6:1

–Cool Down–
1. Static Stretching
    a. Hamstrings
    b. Inner Thigh
    c. ITB/Hips
    d. Cobra Stretch
    e. Calf Stretch

Choice as needed

Summary

So there you have some great examples of a youth football speed and agility training program that can be applied to nearly any sport. You also have some tips on how to deal with coaches to best suit their needs and ideals.

Dave Gleason


About the Author: Dave Gleason

Speed and agility training programDave Gleason is the owner and head coach of Athletic Revolution in Pembroke, MA. Dave’s career passions are training young athletes 6-18 years old as well as playing an integral role in the development of Athletic Revolution International. Dave was the 2010 IYCA Member of the Year, columnist and presenter. A proud member of the IYCA, Dave is honored to be named to the IYCA Board of Experts.


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Designing the Right Speed and Agility Training Program

Developing The Right Speed and Agility Training Programs For Young Athletes

 

wil fleming 2

 

Designing a speed and agility training program can be difficult with young athletesWithout 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.

 

Speed and Agility Training Program

 

When I am coaching athletes in a youth speed and agility training program 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 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.

 

Speed and Agility Training Program 1

 

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

 

Speed and Agility Training Program 2

 

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.

 

Speed and Agility Training Program 4

 

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 athletes or go in a rotation. Your ability to instruct will not be limited, but should be planned out in the 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.

 

Speed and Agility Training Program 3

With groups of any size it is important to approach a youth speed and agility training program 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 fitness business.

 

If you want to learn create your own training programs be sure to check out the Youth Speed Certification from the IYCA here;

Youth speed and agility training certification

 

Medicine Balls: Increase Speed and Agility for Athletes

Are Medicine Balls A Good Tool for Training
Speed and Agility For Athletes

Check out the video below to learn what medicine balls drills we use to help develop speed and agility for athletes in our training programs.

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The 3 Laws of Speed Development

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Speed Development

Today I’m going to explain why having your athletes do ‘fly 40s’ during the first week of practice is a mistake (no matter which sport you coach or compete in) and what you should be doing instead.

 

To do a workout like this so early in the season shows a frightening lack of coaching knowledge and effort . But, fundamentally, it ignores the First Law of Speed Development.

 

The First Law of Speed Development: Speed is a Skill

 

The dividing line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (if you believe in such concepts) coaches starts with understanding that running fast requires developing technical skill in your athletes, regardless of sport.

 

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Another Great Interview on Athletic Development

 

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Athletic Development For Youth

Training for speed and agility is essential for those serious about excelling in competitive sports. 2x All-American football player Dan Fichter knows what it takes.

 

BG: What’s your background in youth sports and athletics? Have you trained a lot of young athletes?

 

DF: My Athletic development background is very simple. It was fueled by my love for sports. All sports! When I was done playing football in the Arena Football League, I decided to make it a goal to learn from the best around. I have tried so many different programs in the fitness industry, I have seen it all. I went to the best to search for the answers! Dr. Mel Siff has helped my understanding of how the human body operates and how to think outside the box. From there, my experiences have included many conversations with Dr. Peter Weyand who is the leading authority on human movement and how it related to running energetics. Coach Ken Jalkowski who knows the process of marrying the science and coaching helped me translate some of Peter’s very complex theories on what limits how fast humans can run. John Davies has also been an instrumental part of my growth as a coach and an expert in the field of strength and conditioning. In this business you have to be learning all the time. Listen to new ideas, and then as the Late Dr. Mel Siff taught me "prove all things"

 

I have coached a lot of different levels of kids in many different sports. Wrestling, football, Track, Martial arts, plus I have been a physical focused on human growth and development, motor skill development, as well as some interesting research in the lab focusing on the biomechanics of short sprints. So, I guess you can say I have a pretty decent background dealing with the kids and how they move. At this point in my career as a performance coach, the majority of athletes that I consult with on a personal basis are older. (Pro athletes, College level, and elite high school athletes) However, I feel it is paramount for kids to have the proper training and instruction as they pursue their sports interests.

 

I run many Speed and Agility camps for kids ages 11- 18. As a matter of fact, I will be joining forces with a business called AthleticFX whose main goal is to work with younger athletes on developing the proper movement tool box so they can develop and transition to higher level skill training as they get older. As I have stated on many occasions, when I train older athletes, I can tell they lack certain fundamental movement and coordination skills. They should have received this type of training a long time ago. I do tons of remedial work that I don’t think I would have to do if kids progressed the right way in training when they were younger.

 

BG: There are a lot of coaches, parents and even trainers who treat young athletes as if they were "little adults". What I mean by that is they will take the training routine of a superstar athlete and use it as a guide when working with youngsters. Why, if at all, should we warn against that kind of training?

 

DF: This is a huge mistake, and can only hurt a child, and maybe damage their chances to grow and experience tons of things that kids should normally experience. Children don’t play today. We are dealing with a huge population of unfit kids. The result of this is a population of obese kids with back problems that will continue to spiral out of control. We have to get kids moving! (That is the PE teacher in me speaking) Get your kids into a sound youth program with people who know what they are talking about. Don’t follow what you read in a magazine. One size doesn’t fit all!

 

BG: The age old debate is "How old should an athlete be before they begin lifting weights." What’s your view on that controversial topic?

 

DF: Well, in my opinion it is not very controversial when you explain what is happening from a biomechanical stand point. When "experts" talk about maximal weight training it is extremely misleading to think that kids will not benefit from a solid strength program, or for that matter will subject them selves to injury if they lift too heavy. People have to understand that the complexity of movements has to do more with each individual kid rather than a perceived age number per say.

 

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