How to Improve Athlete Speed? Power.

When talking about improving an athlete’s speed, we usually look at one thing first:
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What do we look at to improve an athlete’s speed?
How much power can the athlete produce? This will play a big role in determining how fast the athlete is.
In the classical sense, when you think of power you probably think of vertical power, however you will want to look at horizontal power.
We want our athletes to have the ability to produce horizontal power.
There are two parts to power. Force & velocity. From a high level, we'd say everyone needs to get more powerful.
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Some athletes need to develop that power through force, or acceleration ability. Others need to develop that through velocity.
A combination of force + velocity is going to lead back to power.
Improving Force + Velocity
So how can you improve force, or how can you improve acceleration?
Put simply: Load.
This is weighted runs, hills, anything that is going to produce a higher amount of force into the ground.
And velocity?
Improving velocity comes from two things: Stimulus & technique. (For technique think A-series, 4 cone, wickets, etc and for Stimulus think exposure)
This leads into the three buckets of speed:
  • Physical Bucket
  • Technical Bucket
  • Stimulus Bucket
When an athlete comes to us, we should figure out where that athlete is at.
Below is an example of what we might see:
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The physical bucket is nearly full, the technical bucket is a little lower, and their stimulus is even lower. We now have a starting point.
Since the physical bucket is nearly full, we know that’s probably not what we need to fix. There’s some room to improve from a technical standpoint as well as in the stimulus.
Stimulus just means exposure. How much exposure is the athlete getting to hitting high speeds? This doesn’t mean we’re not touching the physical bucket anymore, it just means we’re not emphasizing it as strongly.
This is one of the reasons testing frequently is really important. We test nearly every week, so we can monitor how the athlete is progressing.
Constantly asking yourself which buckets your athletes need to fill will help as you work on programming.
So what should you look at when improving speed in an athlete? Power. If you can improve the horizontal power that your athlete is producing, they’ll start getting faster.