The Need for Speed!
Success in sports can frequently be expressed in one word: Speed!
Do you have it? Can you get it?
VYPE Magazine / February 2009
from research in exercise physiology that everyone can get faster with proper training. We also know genetics are a factor in Speed and the ability to create separation from your opponent are what separate top athletes from the rest of the pack. Speed in sport skills such as: throwing, hitting, kicking and shooting give the athlete an unfair advantage in many game situations. We know each athlete’s potential. However, if you have the desire to get better and are willing to make a strong commitment to work hard at improvement, you can make major gains in your athletic performance. The foundation of success – movement skills, speed, power, strength and conditioning – can all be measured and a program can be designed to address your specific needs.
To begin building that foundation requires knowing your strength and weaknesses by listening to input from your coaches and by measuring your performance. Having data gives you a reference to measure your progress against both yourself and your peers. Even the media is taking more interest in quantifying game speed as illustrated by Monday Night Football measuring Reggie Bush’s scoring run when he achieved a speed of 22 mph. That’s fast! If you are a high school athlete and can achieve a maximum sprint speed of 22 mph (male), 19.5 mph (female), you are in the top five percent of high school athletes. Laying out a development and training plan to increase your speed can produce outstanding results. If you run the 100-meter dash and increase your maximum sprint speed from 20 to 22 mph, you would reduce your time by 0.7 to 0.8 seconds. Improve your start out of the blocks and your acceleration phase and you could gain another 0.1 to 0.3 seconds off your sprint time. You would then be in the top echelon of high school sprinters.
A typical high school baseball player who increases his maximum sprint speed from 16 to 18.5 mph will reduce his time to second base by about one second. That’s huge! On the other side of the equation, the outfielder has to get in position to field the ball and make the throw to second. If the ball is hit 150 feet beyond second base and the outfielder throws to second at 60 mph, the ball will reach second base in approximately seven seconds after leaving the bat. Our hitter with a maximum sprint speed of 16 mph takes 7.6 seconds to get to second. He is out! However, after training for speed he achieves 18.5 mph and now his time to second base is 6.6 seconds. He is safe! The bottom line is if you have game speed/sport speed and your opponent doesn’t, you win!
Explosiveness has historically been measured by functional tests like the vertical, the standing long jump, etc. New technology now allows the direct measurement of explosiveness expressed in power generated per second (i.e. watts/sec). This new technology allows measurement of not only positive power for propulsion but also negative power for deceleration. The athlete can now be assessed for weakness in acceleration, deceleration, and difference in right and left leg explosiveness. This allows the trainer to tailor the training program to meet the multi-directional/explosive needs of the athlete’s sport and position for maximum effectiveness.
Maintaining your speed, quickness and sport-speed skill in the last period of the game is vital to producing a winning season. For most spring sports you’ll need to spend six to eight weeks of intense conditioning to develop your body’s anaerobic energy system’s ability to handle the acids and enzymes that are a byproduct of sprinting and quick movement. Results can be impressive: recovery time cut in half, increased length of time you can go all out by 20 to 60 percent and delayed fatigue, so you can maintain mental concentration.
The sources available to today’s athlete in terms of measurement/assessment of strengths and weakness and training programs tailored to their individual needs (their sport, their position, and their sport skill) are producing increased performance in less time, lower cost with increased safety for better results on the field and more fun playing the game. So assess your needs, measure to quantify, set your goals, train hard and enjoy the benefits of the unfair advantage: