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Many people say that " you cant teach speed" and to a certain extent that is true. There are people who are born much more naturally fast and others who have a certain celing in terms of how fast they will ever be. However, make no mistake you can develop speed and most kids never come close to reaching their potential speed wise( for various reasons).
Here are some things to think about:
Lifting: You must lift weights if you are serious about getting faster. In addition you must be efficient in how you lift. Doing high reps all the time is not going to help you get stronger and run faster. Think of it this way: If you are 170lbs and can squat 275, power clean 180 and deadlift 300 VS. you weighing 170lbs being able to squat 350, power clean 215 and deadlift 355...........which way are you more likely to be faster? The second choice of course. The stronger you are, the more force you can apply to the ground when you run. Its just that simple. I think those 3 lifts are the best lifts to help you improve speed and explosiveness. You should have a weight program that sees you go through phases and when you are trying to get more explosive, your reps should be lower (3-5 range) and should hold heavier weight. In addition you must remember that your core is vital to being an athlete and being a fast athlete as well. You must have a strong back and abs in order to be at your best and to prevent injury.
Technique: There are lots of areas for improvement. I will go over the most common mistakes I see in athletes, but please keep in mind there are tons of things that can go wrong technique wise.
First: I would say that 80-85% of athletes I see have too much backside mechanics when they run. This causes a chain reaction of things to go wrong that vary from athlete to athlete depending on the severity. Most commonly, athletes who have too much backsside mechanics tend to have bring their feet too high up and towards their butt when running. There is wasted movement in that and it slows down stride frequency. Remember speed is two things....stride length and stride frequency. In addition it tends to cause athletes to adjust their running simply just to keep from falling flat on their face. Many times this means that athletes will have their feet not falling under their hips when they run. In order to put the most force into the ground when running and take advantage of lifting all them weights........ideally your feet are falling pretty close to underneath your hips everytime they hit the ground. Lastly, I see many kids with awful arm swing. Remember that your shoulders should be loose, your arms at roughly 90 degrees and your arms should never cross the midpoint of your body or face. Crossing your body is brining momentum from side to side instead of forward and thats obviously bad. Hands should roughly go from just past the hip the nose area. "Hip pocket, eyes socket" is the que I use. Its easy to remember.
Please remember that you cannot improve technique working full speed. You must perfect technique at 25% to 70% speed in order to help muscle memory. Fixing tecnique is a long proccess because your body has to develop the correct muscle memory. Then when you develop that, you will simply do it at full speed automatically.
Plyometrics: They can seriously help athletes get faster and jump higher. There are many various plyos and they range based on your overall experience and strength. There are some plyos better off not done by newbees. Plyometrics are part of any serious strength and speed program.
Flexibility, stretching and taking care of your body: Flexibility is vital to helping you be the best athlete you can be. Stiff athletes get injured more frequently and are not as efficient runners. Incorporating hurdle work and other various hip movement drills is vital to helping you prevent injury and run faster. Strecthing is also key to helping you in the same regards. There is lots of debate on static strecthing vs dynamic warm up. Im of the opinion that static strecthing is a good thing if done correctly and done with ample time for the body to recover before running or a game/event. I like dynamic closer to the event. I like athletes to do both. Getting blood flow all over you body is going to help you warm up and run your best. This is what strecthing can do for you and I also suggest using rollers to help get warmed up and to treat soreness. Last but not least..........TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! You must eat healthy and get good amounts of sleep and rest between workouts. If you are truly dedicated you cannot skip that part of getting better. Disciplined people dont neglect this step and they are better for it. Also, knowing what your doing and seeking advice form experts on this stuff is vital. Practice does not make perfect! Perfect practice, makes perfect and you have to be efficeint. Practicing all the time and not doing it correctly is literally a waste of time. Efficiency is key! Not to mention it keeps you from getting injured.
alot of good advice. Are you a trainer?
It really sounds like you know your stuff man and I agree with with a lot of what you had to say. Unfortunately there are not a lot of coaches with the slightest idea of how to teach proper running mechanics, weight lifting, plyo progression and other training important to becoming the best athlete you can be. I think with so much information available to coaches now a days they don't take advantage of the education out there or they see one "new" program fall in love with it, immediately implement it and then go on to another program because it came out 2 days later.
The biggest issue that I see with athletes is not having the proper progression in nearly area of training. Proper weight lifting, speed mechanics, conditioning, plyos all have a certain progression that should be followed. For example, if you have your athletes jumping over hurdles in week 1 of plyos you are dead set on hurting your athletes because of the obvious overload principle that a coach is not following.
In the end I agree with the majority of what you're saying and would follow a lot of your advice, but I would say to you, are other coaches on board with you knowledge wise? Do you follow a certain progression in the principles that you teach/coach? What program/mentor do you follow? I think it would make for an interesting discussion.