So on Sunday I held a speed clinic (Takeoff Speed Clinic) in my hometown of Pittsburgh PA. I wanted to do something good for the community and also have means to pay my Austin Texas rent. The program was a hands on speed clinic to teach how to sprint and how to train to sprint. It was tailored towards non track athletes as this was at the end of the high school season and beginning of summer USATF. There was a significant amount of teaching while moving and also talking. I had a friend from undergrad assist me as an extra opinion is many times good, plus she’s starting grad school for exercise science in the fall so she needs to stay fresh. I’ll share how it was structured and briefly what was covered and then about what was learned from the experience.
When I was looking at how I want this to go, I saw 4 important points to cover, although this could be 5 or 6 points.
Resistance Training for Speed
Speed Training Programming
After the dynamic warm up and movement prep work, which was a teaching point in itself in hindsight, we got started with the program. Let’s go into a bit more detail.
The main goals that were to be addressed were:
- -teach proper acceleration posture
- -teach how to properly place force into the ground
- -teach that sprinting is highly neuromuscular and the conditions brought upon due to that
We started with sprint drills, emphasizing the point that these drills are to work on different phases of sprinting and neuromuscularly prepare the body to sprint efficiently. After that we worked on 1st step and steps 2-4 of a sprint start. Emphasizing:
- proper foot placement to allow maximal force production from the glute and hamstring
- proper forward lean
- high knees pushing hard through the ground rather than really fast “pitty pat” steps
Lastly we did some 20m sprints going over these emphasis points further. It was nice to see some of the technique adjustments get fixed up, now it’s a matter of practicing them to stick. When doing full speed work to train to be faster, one must be fully recovered and working at 100% ability. Practicing speed work fatigued can teach bad habits. Full speed sprinting requires your central nervous system to be prime and this can be slightly fatigued which causes faults in very fine movement abilities, which quality sprinting is.
For the second section, it was still hands on but less intense. We went through mobility techniques then talked about rest, and recovery along with some nutrition.
So mobility is the ability to move you joints through various ranges of motions. In regards to mobility, we aimed to train mobility in the:
- thoracic spine
It went very well and the thoracic spine and some of the hip mobility movements were much appreciated. Mobility has been a growing concern of mine and a topic to research. Improving my mobility has helped me still maintain the ability to hurdle 39 and 42in hurdles although I stopped doing high hurdles 5 years ago. In ultimate frisbee, I’ve been able to make some very athletic catches by simply having good mobility in my hips and mid back. For more information on mobility check out Mobility 101 by Matt Ibrahim. Here is a cool article about the importance of mobility for athletes http://mobility-101.com/2015/04/10/9-reasons-mobile-athletes-are-better-on-the-field/
For rest and recovery I talked mainly about:
- the importance of not doing too much in order to avoid injury/overtraining
- rest needed in-between high intensity training sessions that fatigues the central nervous system (at least 48 hours)
- how the lesser the intensity* the exercise, the less rest actually needed
- resting in-between sets of various types of exercises (related to the intensity of the exercise)
*intensity of an exercise and the effort of the exercise are not necessarily the same thing. Referencing Richard Ross’s book Speed and Hurdle Training Methods II, intensity is the power output the athlete is producing whereas effort is simply how hard the athlete feels like they are working. Running 3 maximal 60m sprints with full recovery is low in effort but very high in intensity (you won’t feel tired or fatigued after) but running 10 submaximal 200s with little recovery isn’t very intense but feels like it takes a lot of effort to run the same times.
We discussed our eating habits and I offered some insight on carb, protein, and fat intake and metabolism. Because I didn’t have enough people sign up, I opted out of purchasing a foam roller, but still discussed its benefits.
Resistance Training for Speed
Third, we talked about resistance training (strength training) for speed, particularly how it can be used to:
- improve strength for force production
- improve the speed at which muscle fibers contract (this has a lot to do with the nervous system and how it makes your muscles contract faster)
- decrease the risk of injury
To start I talked about the types of muscle fibers, how muscles work, and how the nervous system controls the muscular system. I’ll spare you all of the details for another article.
Given that this was outside, we used a kettlebell. Hip extension, the act of bringing the hips from a hinge position (poke your butt back like you were sitting back) to a straight upright position (now do a forward hip thrust and squeeze) is the most powerful movement in sport. It’s the basis of jumping and sprinting. We can train the ability to do this. We trained for more explosive hips and to activate more muscle fibers through:
- kettlebell swings
- many types of lunges with the kettlebell
- single and double leg squats
Discussed after were various uses of barbells and resistance bands stressing the movement quality of having powerful hips.
Next we talked about plyometrics. Plyometric training is used to train the motor units to apply large amounts of force as quickly as possible. We worked on:
- ankle hops (also great for ankle strength: reducing sprains, the time it takes to bounce back, and for rehab)
- in place jumps such as tuck jumps and lunge jumps
- moving jumps such as single leg jumps and sprint bounds
We also did various explosive lunge movements using the kettlebell. Watch the video, it’s hard to explain.
Lastly we discussed resistance training to reduce injury risk. Having strong muscles increases the stability of joints (strong quads help the knee joint) and decreases the likelihood of overcompensating for a weaker muscles (weak glutes cause the hamstrings to worker hard). Many of the above listed exercises help improve strength for a decreased injury risk.
Speed Training Programming
Lastly, we discussed planning a training program. Some points about rest and recovery were reiterated. We also went over his training program and adjustments that could be made to make it more effective.
What Went Not so Well
Well marketing this was rough. I was in Texas at a very intense part of the semester when I created all the curriculum. I did a bit of social media promotion in which I got a lot of clicks and views on Facebook but I had barely any response on Instagram. My main PR efforts came from emailing coaches. I had sent over 18 emails to over 25 different coaches. The best part of it was, not one emailed me back. Not one. I’m not too sure why. Well in the end, I had a whopping, 1 kid. So yeah I clearly didn’t get close to half my rent paid haha. A coach who was going to help me out mentioned how May isn’t the best time of the year to put on events like this. Sport seasons are ending and school is approaching finals.
What Went Well (so I think)
First of all, I’m happy I followed through fully with the idea. I occurred to me, I asked a couple people for their opinions and then just got to work. In working with the athlete I realized my eye for detail for precise movement was better than say a year ago. Most importantly, I feel I explained a lot and did it well. It was a good experience for the first time, it helped my confidence in being able to explain various concepts to an 18 year old.
Many tweaks need to be made in the marketing department for the next time I do this. The athlete said he learned a fairly large amount of information about how to train his body for performance so I’m generally satisfied. What are your thoughts? Any recommendations? Thanks for the support!