By Athletes' Acceleration | September 18th, 2006
Last time I talked about identifying the demands
of your sport in order to effectively design an training
plan that will help your athletes achieve those goals.
I got a lot of questions about that over the past
two weeks so I want to go into more detail about that
before continuing on with the specific details of actually
putting that program together.
As far as demands of a speed training program I think
it is important to first look at your sport and where
the focus is during the preseason and regular season.
We can simply break this down into two categories:
1. Team sports
2. ‘Individual’ sports
Team sports like football, basketball and soccer are
going to have to focus the majority of speed and
conditioning development in the preseason. Once the
season starts the focus is likely going to be more on
maintenance of the improvements made during the
off season and preseason as opposed to specifically
trying to make significant speed gains during the
Don’t forget that competitions must be factored into
the overall conditioning plan as well.
The problem I see with most coaches of team sports is
that there is no organized periodization or progression
of conditioning in the preseason or regular season.
This is why there is often a rash of burnout, mid season
performance regression (due to overtraining)
and late season injuries.
Even worse, I can’t count the number of times I’ve
gotten athletes from other sports in their next season
who needed excessive rest and modified training to
help them recover from the beatings their unorganized
coaches gave them during the previous season.
The techniques you’ll learn here should prevent that
from happening ever again.
On the flip side you have ‘individual’ sports, which
we’ll basically consider track and field. Here we often
train through early season competitions with the goal
being to have athletes run their fastest at the end
of the season, instead of the beginning of the season
like in team sports.
The training principles for both categories are the same,
it is just the structure that is going to be different.
Now, before you can begin creating a specific training
plan you have to get organized. Early in my career I
chose to skip this part because I was lazy and ignorant
(by ignorant I mean uninformed, unaware) but invariably
it would come back to bite me when circumstances forced
me to be more flexible in amending the plan.
And believe me, even the best plans have to be modified
for a variety of reasons.
Here is a list of 7 steps that must be followed before you
sit down to write out the specific details of youroverall
Some of you will groan at the amount of time and thought
that goes into a well crafted speed program, but that’s
why your athletes aren’t fast and mine are. If you take
the time to learn this process it gets faster and easier.
I also suggest you start taking notes on the answers
to these questions as it will make your life much easier
as we break them down further as we progress through
1. Establish a clear, specific goal for the training
This is the same whether designing a plan for an individual
person or a team.
Is the goal to improve your 40 by .3 seconds by the
start of the season or improve the team’s average 40
time by .2 before the first game?
Do you want to win a State Title in the 100 or place
3 athletes in the finals at the League Championship
If you set generic goals like ‘make the team faster’
then you won’t accomplish them. You have to set your
intention on a specific goal by focusing on the end
result and then working backwards.
As you’ll see later this is one of the most overlooked
and also difficult components of the training plan.
But if you don’t start with the end goal and end date
and work backwards, you can’t get a true understanding
of how to progress your training.
2. Make a detailed analysis of the demands of
A football player and a soccer player aren’t going
to be on the same speed training program.
Is there a significant aerobic demand to your sport?
How about agility and change of direction skills?
Does your sport focus on acceleration or top end speed?
Do your athletes hold, swing or carry an implement in
3. Establish a list of qualities and abilities needed
to succeed in the specific speed applications of your
sport. This should be based upon your analysis of
- Absorb impact and then accelerate.
- accelerate while in a state of extreme fatigue
- develop consistent acceleration pattern out of blocks
- hit a moving ball while running at top speed
4. Create a list of specific training activities. This
list should be designed to address and develop the
identified list of qualities and abilities.
- specific drills teaching athletes how to take a hit
and effectively accelerate
- fartlek runs and whistle workouts where athletes
simulate the types of starting and stopping while fatigued
that they’ll experience in a game
- drive phase development and block work session to teach
a consistent, explosive sprint start
- drills teaching athletes techniques for striking, kicking or
dribbling the ball while running at full speed
5. Create a list of general training activities. These
should be designed to prepare the body to undertake
more specific training, when specific training is
considered too advanced for the learning athlete.
- an athlete must learn how to separately absorb
contact and learn to accelerate before the actions
can effectively be combined
- athletes must develop their aerobic power, lactic
capacity and acceleration ability before they can
succeed at combining those three elements successfully.
- athletes must develop a consistent acceleration pattern,
understand the drive phase and perfect running mechanics
before successfully developing a fast start
- athletes must learn how to kick, strike or dribble the ball,
as well as learn acceleration and top speed mechanics before
they can combine these skills
6. The list of both general and specific training
activities must be organized in a logical fashion into
a valid training program.
With any speed program, skills must go from general
to specific, basic to complex.
Athletes must establish general conditioning before
doing complex lactic acid workouts.
They must develop the ability to accelerate before
doing speed endurance.
And beyond that these skills must be broken down further
as well as addressing other biomotor abilitiesthat we will get
7. The training program must actually be administered
and should undergo constant evaluation.
Even the best plans must be modified. Weather, injuries,
and a myriad of other situations and circumstances
will arise that force you to change what you are doing.
Sometimes something you plan just plain doesn’t work.
That is why a detailed plan, as well as note taking
and testing, will give you a good idea if your planis
progressing as expected.
So start going through these 7 steps and taking specific
notes on how they can be specifically applied
to your team, sport or training.
Because even these 7 topics are just a general overview
of the pre-planning behind the training plan.
Once you’ve established your lists and have gotten
more focused on the general areas that must be developed
you can start to get more specific.
But first you must understand where the specificity
comes from and why it is applied.
In developing the speed of any athletes in any sport there
are 5 biomotor abilities that must be developed, regardless
of the perceived differences between thesport/s being trained,
age, gender and skill level ofthe athletes.
These 5 biomotor abilities are:
1. Speed (of course)
In Part IV of the series, we’ll examine the 5 biomotor
abilities in detail and look more directly at specific
principles for applying the results you came up within
the 7 steps we covered today in relation to those
biomotor abilities, so far as it pertains to designing an
effective speed training program.
Of course, if you have any questions about the topics
I covered today or anything related to speed training
or program design, feel free to email me at:
To learn more about the only program on the planet
that gives you lists of general and specific drills and
exercises covering all 5 biomotor abilities, visit:
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