Youth Sports Training
It is customary to see young athletes being taught and drilled on how to run as fast as possible in a straight line.
Coaches spend hours teaching the mechanics of ‘linear speed’. Arm drive, hip drive, ankle push, forward lean – all the usual suspects. Whether on a high speed treadmill, gymnasium floor or football field, anywhere you go, you’ll likely see Coaches teaching the techniques of running fast in a straight line moving forward.
Now, I don’t really have any fundamental issue with respect to this style of training. I could (and will) argue that virtually every sport is played in a non-linear format and so spending time on the mechanics of an exercise that a young athlete won’t typically ever need in a sporting situation is paramount to a large waste of time.
But young athletes (as you will read later) need to be exposed to as much training stimulus as possible – in all formats. In that, no training style should ever be considered ‘not worth the time’ when we’re talking about preadolescent or high school aged athletes.
But the fact that linear speed training is both taught and drilled INSTEAD of more functional and useable styles of speed and agility work is where I draw the concern.
Football, baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball – you name the sport. Very seldom does a young athlete need to sprint forward with proper form; and they almost never hit ‘top-end-speed’ for any length of time. If you look at any of the sports from a positional standpoint, that reality is even less likely.
Sports are multi-directional and varying in speed. Young athletes must be taught how to move efficiently and quickly at angles (not just forward) and be ingrained with the knowledge and ability of how to decelerate (stop) and shift (change directions) as fast as possible.
Sport speed isn’t about straight lines. It’s about angular quickness and the ability to re-accelerate.
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