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Learning to gain speed safely

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tim Rudd, the author of “Training Time” on page 15, also addressed speed training in our July 8 issue. To check that out visit www.SportStars port speed is a multifaceted topic involving several factors. Although many coaches will say, “You can’t teach speed,” a periodized program can dramatically improve an athlete’s acceleration, deceleration and reaction time. These five “pillars” are what I use when developing a Sport Speed Training program. ■ FLEXIBILITY: It’s the most overlooked aspect of speed training. I tell my athletes that if you are running and your muscles are tight, it is like “running with the emergency brake on.” We use certain techniques to help our athletes improve flexibility for their sport. First, every workout session starts with a dynamic warm-up, a movement-based stretching program that warms up muscles and joints


in preparation for exercise. At the end of our session, we use static stretching and foam roller self massage as a cool-down. Static stretching is a technique where you hold each stretch for 30 seconds or longer to increase flexibility and decrease lactic acid build up after a workout. The foam roller is a great tool to self massage out tight muscles and tender areas after a workout as well. ■ STABILITY: There are two types of stability we look for: core stability and single leg stability. All athletes need to be able to stabilize their core and transfer forces from their legs to their arms via the muscles of the trunk. Also, every athlete that works with us does some variety of single leg stability exercises — because running is a series of single leg hops when you look at it. An athlete must be stable through their core, and be stable on a single leg, to be fast. ■ STRENGTH: Every athlete I work with begins strength training with body weight exercises, and using perfect form is essential. Squats and lunges are the foundation for all athletic movement, so every athlete who

Health Watch James Faison

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wants to get faster needs to train and be comfortable in these two positions. ■ POWER: Power is the ability to use strength with speed. Power exercises train the athlete how to accelerate, decelerate and apply force. The following exercises are an invaluable part of our speed training program: High box step-ups, double-leg jumps, single-leg hops. ■ SPEED! The other pillars are used to build up to more traditional speed training. Speed drills need to be done using perfect technique. When teaching speedtraining drills, athletes should be given full rest so they keep good form and don’t get fatigued. Start with arm action, then build up to walking, marching drills, and on to skipping. Once these drills are easy, then one can start running up to full speed and include multi-directional activities. ✪ James Faison is an athletic trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist for the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes center in Walnut Creek. If you have questions or comments regarding the “Health Watch” column, write the SMFYA staff at Health@

July 22, 2010



Issue 4, 07.22.2010