Youth Speed Training Myths




Youth Speed Training success

Training young athletes for speed is a topic that I love to chat about.


Mostly, because I learn from a variety of sources.


What’s your philosophy on speed training?


Deceleration first?


Systemic strength as a base?


Multiple parts of different kinds of stimulus?


I love to learn from IYCA Members worldwide and would be honored if
you would click on the link below and share with me your thoughts
on Youth Speed Training


So, what say you about speed training, my friend?


Please…. Leave your thoughts and comments below –


24 Responses

  1. Bruce Kelly says:

    When it comes to younger athletes, to me it is pretty simple. If you get them stronger they will get faster. Most have poor stability, core strength, and lower body strength. If they get stronger, they will be able to create more GRF and will be faster.

  2. John Ayton says:

    Hello Brian:
    Please excuse me for changing the subject matter with my question. I have coached competitive hockey for 17 years and have always believed in the benefits of Gatorade for my atheletes. This season my team is Minor Pee Wee which is boys 11 years of age. Can you please share with me your thoughts on Gatorade vs. water for this age group?
    John Ayton

  3. dave says:

    gatorade is koolaid with salt in it, the salt helps replace eletrolytes lost during perspiration as well as aids in retaining water

  4. rick says:

    I like to teach mechanics first, Arm swing, leg drive and body posture. Deceleration is next. I’ve tried other ways, but I seem to have had more success this way, and then decel being a big part of the training.Thanks Brian for all you do.


  5. Dave Gleason says:

    I approach speed training as a skill or set of skills. It is NOT a way to drive my young athletes into the ground or a way to “get them in shape”.
    I look at linear speed first, then multi directional.

    The base line I often use is skipping. If they can’t skip – we start there.

    I also adhere to the philosophy of not over coaching.

  6. Francois Nel says:

    I go for the “Multiple parts of different kinds of stimulus” option.
    For me speed training will depend on a couple of factors.
    First off what age group. That will have a big influence. What type of speed, linear or multi directional.
    I try to not make speed the main focus but will have it as part of the total package. Since speed gives you the edge in most types of sport it should be one of the products of your total training. Also speed will improve as you address the total athlete.
    Speed is something athletes should fall in love with!

  7. Ryan Rizor says:

    1. Work capacity, posture, positioning
    2. Systemic strength (linear strength first, then rotational strength)
    3. Deceleration (all positions)
    4. Acceleration, force production
    5. Mid speed
    6. Flying speed

  8. Luke says:

    Hi Brian,

    I love this topic! My approach to “speed training” is to get the athlete moving better. I do this by helping them understand that their body is like a race car and I am the mechanic. In order to get the race car to run as fast as possible I need to super tune the car!

    First,I use corrective exercise utilizing foam rolls and tennis balls to release all the tight areas of the body. Next, we focus on active and dynamic warm-up for ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder mobility. Followed by movement instruction.

    We also focus on developing skill sets for core stability, proper progressions for lifts, squats, single leg exercises, pushes, pulls, rotations, etc.

    I have a lot of success using Lee Taft’s approach to speed training. I focus on the quality of an athlete’s movement during the running sequence and tweek their movements.

    Most importantly, I allow the athlete to discover the power of moving efficiently. I give them just enough instruction and let them figure out the rest with my guidance.

    All-in-all, our approach to teaching speed is improving movement efficiency, proper running technique focusing on deceleration/acceleration, and systematic strength training.

  9. I ALWAYS teach the concept of proper single leg balance first. Without that, the concepts of developing power and foot quickness are lost on my athletes, who are all young female hockey players. Once they have that foundation of single-leg balance in place, teaching (and learning) everything else becomes easy.

  10. Andrew says:

    I believe in training mobility first and dealing with movement pattern dysfunction. Every athlete needs to go through an athlete development program and increase fitness level, mobility, coordination, etc. before training for speed. I all to often see a young athlete that has never worked fast twitch muscles fibers or trained neurologically they way they need to in order to prepare for speed training. Like anything…there is a progression before and up to a speed training program and then of course within the speed training program. I look forward to learning more on the progression of the speed training program this weekend with IYCA! See ya there!

  11. Storm says:

    My philosophy on speed training is that most of us after a certain degree of maturity can develope explosiveness which translate to improvements in multi directional and linear speed as well as vertical and horizontal jumping. It is similar to stregnth training in that the training must be maintained to maximize your results. Deceleration is a key component to training mainly for injury prevention as cutting and deceleration is when the athlete is most susceptible but in my view Its not a key component in developing speed and explosiveness.

    Teaching the correct mechanics is the first step. There are many ways to teach speed but I like to incorporate a lot of core training. We will do some over speed training, multi directional drills, some resistance and low and high impact plyos depending on the age of the athletes. Brian I look forward to speaking with you more at the conference this weekend.

  12. Rob says:

    I first like to have them run just to examine form and posture. I then have them do some single leg work to focus on balance and this also works the core as well. Finally I have teach them to form with their running so that they are not wasting energy.

  13. Enrico Roncancio says:

    Each athlete is different. Last year I started working with a 6ft3 285 lineman who started for his state championship football team as a sophomore. He was the slowest guy off the line and his dad wanted me to work on his speed. The problem was he couldn’t move. His flexibility was terrible and after 3 years (yes I said 3)of bench pressing the shoulders were shot. For almost 3 months we worked on correcting his problems and after his first “acceleration” practice his coaches were shocked at their “new” lineman. We hadn’t done one minute of speed training but because he was more flexible he ran faster.

  14. ed says:

    I expose my young atheltes to speed training with conditioned games early on, letting them get a feel for moving at speed. I then introduce speed as a skill composed simply of multiple jumps or hops. Progressice games then include single leg hops/ bounds with balance and control at the heart of all exercises. I would then progress to strengthening exercises, first double leg exercises targeting acceleration and creating a functional base, then moving on to single leg training

  15. When I teach BASIC speed training. I first need to let the child run and then adjust our training to whats right or wrong in their movement patterns. I like to hack away a little bit at the major things for everyone. Learning footwork, starts, acceleration, change of direction and deceleration, games can be built to accomplish all of these goals. A fun progressive atmosphere will get you the most bang for your buck!

    The keys to speed are reactivity, rate of force development and absolute strength. Building on these and working on stride rate and stride length will get you what you covet.

  16. Nate Turner says:

    We teach them a challenging dynamic warm-up first, as it allows us to warm them up, see them move, and assess strength, coordination, balance, and in many cases, which kind of cueing they respond best to.

    Next is arm action, then linear deceleration in multiple positions, then acceleration, multidirectional speed, and finally, jumping and landing.

    I, and many of my staff, are still mastering the skillful use of guided discovery in our coaching styles. This is one of the concepts I have really enjoyed gleaning from Brian’s writings and these blog discussions.

    In health,
    Sport Speed Austin

  17. On a larger scale, I generally will not start working on speed until about a month in. During that first month the athletes learn about mobility, posture and our warm-up process (most kids will get faster after this without even focusing on speed). I agree with Dave Gleason in that “if a kid can’t skip, we start there”. We skip in all directions and even change directions while skipping. This helps them to focus on good ROM of the hip and a good arm swing. Once the athletes appear to have a grasp and have learned the concepts will we begin to focus on system strength and dynamic balance through Single leg Deadlifts, single leg squats, multi directional lunges and postural strength. Long story short, build the foundation of strength and mobility before throwing them to the speed development wolves.

  18. Richie Whall says:

    Just to add another dimension to the fantastic comments that have already been posted, I’d like to discuss speed training in relation to its use during actual game play (whatever the ‘game’ may be!!).

    Two schools of thought seem to exist,a skill to tactics approach or a tactics to skill approach.

    With a skill to tactics approach, the initial focus is on developing the ‘skill’ elements of speed (ie how can I help my young athletes through improved mobility, stability, strength, technique etc) first and then look at how this enhanced speed can be transferred/applied to the ‘tactics’ of a game.

    However, it is just as important to consider the tactics to skill approach. In this approach, the young athletes play modified games to learn to read & react to different situations with appropriate movements first, with coaches using a guided discovery type approach to allow their athletes to learn key cues to react to and the appropriate response. Increasing a young athletes game-awareness skills/tactical knowledge, their reactive abilities and their understanding of the relevant movements in this way will provide a sound base for the transfer and application of their movement skills and speed in a game situation.

    I’ve worked with a number of young athletes to develop their ‘speed’ as a skill in isolation, with athletes who are fantastic performing ladder drills, cone drills, shuttles, paired reaction drills, in all different directions but have struggled to transfer these skills onto the field of play. By providing an environment in which they can develop their game awareness first to understand WHY and WHEN to use different speed skills and then developing these skills, I’ve found that these young athletes have had greater success in using these skills when it matters to them – in the game!

    Brian has written previously about Principles of Dynamic Organisation (PODO), a skill to tactics approach, which I think is a brilliant concept but can also be switched around to take a tactics to skill approach as well.

    I’ve had success with both approaches, different approaches working better with different athletes. There is not necessarily one correct approach, but many approaches, some of which are better than others for different situations. Theres no reason why you have to do purely a skills to tactic or tactic to skills approach and may find that a little bit of each works best?

    The purpose of this post is to stimulate some thought and debate on different ways to approach developing the skill of ‘speed’, always keeping the end goal in mind, which to me is helping young athletes develop the skills & tactics that allow them to play & enjoy a variety of sports & activities to their full potential with minimised risk of injury.

  19. Myths about Speed Training abound at ALL levels. But it really is simple… PROPER strength training (most is improper) and PROPER skill training (much is improper) in one’s particular sport with lots of repetition. Stronger muscles create more force (power); coupled with better skill movements means more speed. There are too many coaches and too many athletes that do not understand the simplicity involved here.

  20. Raymond says:

    First and foremost, we evaluate their overall mechanics of running, etc. and try to apply training to their specific areas of need. Basics for all to teach via training. They are the machanics of their bodies. We (coaches) are the instruction manuals and instructors. Each are different and have different issues for specific focus. “Never want to correct something that is not brokeen.” But we can fine tune it were it is needed. (Strength, agility, etc.)
    In general first focuses are mobility, agility, flexability and strength as a combined effort. These activities intersect with one another. It is a mixture of all these to work in the many facits of speed or basic conditioning. Many of the drill and traing are the basic warm up before competi ng and many are not accomplishing or understanding the importants and need for applying the drills correctly.
    The intent is to teach them what they need to learn, know and apply to enhance their speed. At our level (non Pro athletes), should focus be on self improvement vs being the fastest person in the state/world. “one step at a time.

  21. Rob Wilson says:

    Love what I’m reading all good stuff.I really like what Dave wrote.PROPER form
    8 points of alignment and technique are always most important.for me it all starts with proper evaluations.No mater what age or sport you have to know how they use what they already have!
    1)evaluations-I use a mix of FMS/1/2 speed runs both fwrd. and bckwrd.light medicine ball throws and standing march(to ID pelvic rotation).
    2)I use a mix of RHYTHM (jump rope & skipping)STRENGTH(intricate/stabilizers)first in progression and BALANCE (bosu’s ladders strings etc.)
    3)TECHNIQUE how to properly apply what you already have.power,creating force,propulsion,efficient movement.
    4)cool down flexibility mobility.
    I can not believe how many coach’s/trainers allow kids to walk off the field climb in a car and leave!
    All of this will very based on age and evaluations of course.Most all of this can be done with games or FUN challenges.And it most definitely can be done WITHOUT over coaching!It sounds complicated and time consuming but it’s really not.
    It’s SIMPLE not EASY.
    The end result is adequate strength and exceptional SPEED.


  22. SoCal Brian says:

    Hey Brian,
    I have found that fast athletes are fast athletes! They perform well at almost every aspect of speed training. If an athlete is not very fast I like to break it down into as many parts as the particular athlete requires. Some fall into their speed i.q. faster and with less ground work than others do. Linear speed is first with emphasis on all parts of the body mechanics necessary or needed. I would ease the slower/less advanced athelte into lateral speed training as well as deceleration techniques and training until their body is under control. Personally I have used this training and with others over the past 20 or so years. It works best for me to build on an athete natural form and make minor tweaks here and there.

  23. D, Maurya says:

    i believe if we can develope explosive strength in our athlete,like jumping and plymetrick drills and all,with the help of that we can work on speed,its come with natural talent, but good quality type training,i have used this training over the past 3 years,and its work best for me.

  24. D, Maurya says:

    i have found that, if we can develope explosive strength in our athlete,like jumping and plymetrick drills and all,with the help of that we can work on speed,its come with natural talent, but good quality type training,i have used this training over the past 3 years,and its work best for me.

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