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Strength Training for Speed

What's a separator tool on the field? Speed. Athletes with elite speed can be difference-makers.

You may not be fast... YET. Good news... speed is a skill that can be developed and improved.

One way to explore the development of sport-specific speed is by looking at what athletes are doing in the weight room.

1 major factor in developing an athlete’s speed is training rate of force development.

Rate of Force Development

Speed depends on the ability to exert force rapidly. We want to produce more force in a shorter time = rate of force development

  • Sprinting involves maximizing horizontal force while minimizing ground contact time

  • Strength training for speed development should focus on increasing an athlete's force-producing capacity not on increasing muscle size

Athletes will be able to produce force at a higher rate when assigned a power-based program (featuring plyometrics and resistance exercises performed at a quicker pace) as compared to a heavy-strength program that emphasizes maxing out and lifting heavy loads at low speeds.

If a player only lifts heavy and slow to build strength then they are not training their body to produce force quickly.

Their strength training will not fully transfer to the explosive movements and short bursts of speed and strength during their sport. Developing POWER- think explosive strength- is a more sport-specific quality and skill that can translate from the weight room onto the field.

Remember, as you progress up the food chain of your sport, the pool of strength, technique, and skill are similar… the real separator is how fast you can tap into these abilities.

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