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Reevaluating Training Choices: Speed Training yes or no?

speed May 10, 2011

Tryouts were this weekend

Overall I was a little disappointed in my athletic performance.  I was not feeling as quick and explosive as I would have liked.  I'm not sure if this was a mental issue and I just didn't bring my A-game.   Or it may have been a physical issue. Maybe I shouldn't have done so many sets of squats on Friday.  Or maybe I just didn't get enough sleep.

Anyway, have me thinking about my current training strategy.  The past six weeks I've spent mainly focused on top speed and acceleration training.   All of my acceleration and speed work has been linear (though I've still been doing lateral conditioning work).  I am wondering if my speed speed training makes sense.  Acceleration training yes. Speed training, maybe not.


Arguments against speed training

My typical speed days involve a few drills to work on sprint form and some plyometric work.  I do sprinter stance starts to work on my accelerations. Then I do repeated sprints at full intensity in a straight line from point a to point b. How often does a player sprint in a completely straight line with eyes straight ahead?  Pretty much never.  Even in a deep cut, a player needs to occasionally look back and know where the disc is.  This type of training is not very sport specific.


So why did I even bother?

The main argument for top speed training is that all other running occurs at some percentage of your top speed.   The closer you are to your top speed, the more difficult it is to change direction or even to maintain that speed.  If you can increase your top speed, then you're cutting, juking, and running are taking place at a lower percentage of your top speed.  You should be able to change direction faster and do more repeated cuts at the same speed if they are a lower percentage of your absolute max speed.  However, this view far from universal.  It is more commonly believed (and shown in research) that straight ahead speed is not correlated to game situation agility.  Furthermore, the degree to which I can change my top speed is probably not large enough to contribute to increases in agility.  In reality, my sprinting workouts were more focused on acceleration than top speed so I do believe the work I've done has been at leas partially worthwhile.


Current thoughts

Thought I'm not completely convinced of the benefits, I did six weeks of top speed training because I like it, because it does no harm, and because my fitness was already taken care of.  I probably could have spent my time better.  Tryouts reminded me that I do not have blazing speed.  I never did.  This is not a surprise.  I am fairly fast for a handler, but too slow to be a cutter.  Top speed training is neither capitalizing on my strengths nor is it patching up a glaring weakness. Time to move on.


What's next

Agility is next on the menu and perhaps I could have gone straight into it and skipped the linear top speed.  Agility is my greatest strength.  Still I think there is room for improvement.   My introductory plyometrics and my vertical jump testing have exposed the fact that I'm not very elastic.   I think I can get quicker if I learn to use the stretch shortening cycle more efficiently.

Stay tuned for more plyometric and agility drill demonstrations.  Consider subscribing if you haven't already so you don't miss anything!

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