This section of the website focuses on the key principles of speed training.
What is speed? It is the ability to reach a high velocity of movement in whatever mode of locomotion running, cycling, skating swimming etc (1).
Very often, agility is more relevant to successful sports performance than all-out speed. Agility is the ability to explosively brake, change direction and accelerate again.
Another element of fitness closely related to speed training is speed endurance. Many athletes must maintain a high velocity for longer than 6 seconds or produce repeated sprints with minimal rest periods in between.
The combination of speed, agility and speed endurance an athlete requires is determined by his or her sport. But regardless of the event, there are several modes of training that are integral to developing a fast athlete:
Strength & Power Training
Speed is chiefly determined by the capacity to apply a large amount of force in a short period of time. This is also known as power. Many athletic movements take place in 0.1 to 0.2 seconds but maximal force production takes 0.6 to 0.8 seconds. The athlete who can apply most force in the short period of available time is said to be the most powerful.
Strength training increases maximal force production. Assuming as a result, more force can be produced in the same period of time, strength training alone can increase power. However, it makes more sense to increase both maximal force production and the rate of force development. This can be achieved through power training. Both strength and power training are integral to improvement of speed.
Practising moving and accelerating faster helps to condition the neuromuscular system to improve the firing patterns of fast twitch muscle fibers. Two variations of basic speed training are assisted and resisted speed training. Assisted training (also called overspeed training helps to improve stride frequency (2,3,4). Resisted speed training helps to improve speed-strength and stride length (2,3,4).
Most team sports consist of very few movements that occur only in a straight line. Nor do those movements occur at a fixed pace or for a fixed length of time. Agility and quickness training improves an athletes ability to change direction, brake suddenly and perform sport-specific skills with speed and dexterity.
Compare speed training to strength training for a moment. A sport-specific strength training program will first aim to develop basic strength. This is on the premise that a solid base of strength offers greater physical potential to work with when converting it to sport-specific strength later on. Basic speed training along with power training maximises the athletes ability to move rapidly. Agility training helps an athlete to apply their speed to sport-specific scenarios.
Speed Training Articles
The Speed Training Program
How to design a speed training program and how to use and combine the drills in this section of the site…
Improve Your Sprinting Technique
Pointers and drills for improving sprinting technique…
Speed Drills for Maximum Velocity
These speed drills are used to develop basic, all-out speed and acceleration…
Speed & Agility Drills
These agility exercises can be incorporated into number of training programs across a variety of sports. Easy to set up and requiring little or no equipment they are ideal for teams and individual training…
Agility & Quickness Exercises
Agility training helps an athlete to apply basic speed to sport-specific movements and skills…
Ladder Agility Drills for Quick Feet & Coordination
Speed ladders form an intergral part of many speed training programs. These five drills will improve your foot speed and coordination…
Speed Endurance Training
Speed endurance is important for multi-sprint sports where an athlete is required to complete several sprints in quick succession…
Basketball Agility Drills
Four speed drills especially for developing agility around the basketball court…
Speed Conditioning For Football
Here’s how to improve your speed on the football field…
Soccer Speed Conditioning
And here’s how to improve your speed on the soccer field…
References for speed training
1) Baechle TR and Earle RW. (2000) Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning: 2nd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
2) Mero A, Komi PV, Gregor RJ. Biomechanics of sprint running. A review. Sports Med. 1992 Jun;13(6):376-92
3) Faccioni A. Assisted and resisted methods for speed development (part I). Modern Athlete Coach. 1994 32(2):3-6
4) Faccioni A. Assisted and resisted methods for speed development (part II). Modern Athlete Coach. 1994 32(3):8-116