5 Reasons You Aren't Getting Faster
Almost every athlete that sits in my office to lay out their goals has “speed” listed somewhere. Makes sense. In most cases the faster you are, the better you’ll play at your respective sport. Then the athlete will tell me all about what they have been doing to work on getting faster. This usually consists of just endless wind sprints with no direction in mind. Yes, I am happy they are doing something because for every athlete out there training alone, there are 100 playing video games and drinking soda.
But, I want to maximize that athlete's energy. So, let’s dive into why you aren't getting fast.
I don’t care how high-level of an athlete you are, you most likely do not sprint in the most efficient way possible. Whether it’s foot strike, shin angle, or posture - there is always something to be worked on. Most athletes do not know how to correct this - that’s where you need an educated coach, someone who can assess and implement a program that will work on your areas of weakness.
In addition to finding the issues and programming drills, there needs to be transfer. Meaning, the drills and cues the coach gives need to make sense for that specific athlete. You can’t just arbitrarily do drills and expect them to work. Everything needs to fit like a puzzle.
Now, we can go on and on about proper technique and drills to fix, but here are a few easy drills to try.
I throw this word around a ton while I am coaching. In order for an athlete to get anything out of their workouts, there NEEDS to be intent. If they are not putting the effort in to sprint hard and focus on their technique, the progress will not happen.
I hold athletes accountable with goals. I have them try to hit certain positions, times, film them - whatever it will take to push them to put maximal effort in.
At the end of the day if you want to be fast you have to sprint fast.
3. Relative Strength
There needs to be a certain level of strength in order for an athlete to generate enough force. That’s why we are always working on strength during their sessions as well. I have found the most success with my athletes that get “strong enough” and improve their sprint technique.
I say “strong enough” because there is a point of diminishing returns. If all of the strongest people in the world were the fastest, you would see powerlifters in the 60m Sprint at the Olympics. Obviously that is not the case. You want to be strong enough to generate the force, but you don’t want the muscle mass to impede range of motion or elasticity. Again, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.
4. Insufficient Rest
Sprinting falls under the alactic energy system - the storage only lasts a short period of time and takes time to replenish. Here’s an article all about the energy systems.
I urge all of my athletes to fully recover before each sprint. This will help maximize output and proper technique. As we all know, the more fatigued we are, the more difficult it is to focus on the right movement. This may be resting 2-3 minutes between 20-30 yard accelerations.
I love it when I have an athlete looking to attack their speed training. They want to go every day, sprint 100mph and just go!
Unfortunately, our body needs time to recover. After a sprint session, not only will the muscles be tired, the nervous system will be fatigued as well.
I recommend 2-3 sprint sessions per week out of season with at least 1 day of rest between each workout. On top of the rest, I program mobility and adequate nutrition as well. The body needs to refuel, recover, and ramp up again.
Speed development does not happen overnight. Be patient, get a pair of educated eyes on you, and follow a well-informed program. I hope this helps give you a little insight on speed training. If you have any questions, drop them below!