Speed and Agility
At Wesleyan, the goal, focus, and direction are to enhance each
individual's speed, quickness, agility, and body control relative to
sport. Linear speed is important, but the ability to change direction
is quite possibly more important than flat out speed. Speed development
and enhancement is a careful balance and combination of strength
training, sport training, skill training, and speed and agility
training. At Wesleyan, each athlete is provided the opportunity to
participate in "Speed, Quickness, and Agility" training sessions two
times each week for approximately six weeks in the fall semester and six
weeks in the spring semester.
Developing Speed- Speed Training Tips
Speed development and enhancement is a careful balance and
combination of strength training, sport training, skill training,
and speed training. Limitations in any of these areas can
hinder the athlete's ability to improve their speed.
Strength Training-Lower Body & Olympic Style
First, let's look at strength training or resistance
training. Leg strength and core strength are essential for speed.
Maximal strength and acceleration ability are closely related.
Resistance training develops specific strength and improves
When in the weight room following a structured strength
program you must spend the quality time on squats (Front &
Back), lunges, Olympic movements and variations (Clean, High Pulls,
Push Jerk, Split Jerk, Snatch & combination lifts). Starting is
about extending the ankle, knee, and hip. This is referred
to as "Triple Extension". This movement occurs in many sport
movements (jumping, throwing, taking down an opponent,
swinging, track & swimming starts, etc..) Once again, this can
be trained explosively in the weight room and strength program.
Stopping/decelerating involves bending the ankle, knee, & hip.
This too is a component trained in the weight room.
Core Training & Functional Training
In addition to the essential lower body lifts involving the
ankle, knee, and hip, the core is an essential piece to enhance
The trunk or "Core" is a pillar which must be strong and
stabilized so forces generated from the legs into the ground, from
the ground back up through the legs may pass through the
core. These forces will then be passed through the limbs for more
speed, power, and sprint mechanics. Athletic movement is a
chain of linked events as opposed to isolation. This is why a
strength program for an athlete should focus on "Functional
Training". What is functional training? Function is purpose so
functional training is purposeful training and is literally
training muscles based on their function. When you analyze most
sport events or activities, are they played upright or
seated? How many of these activities are performed one joint acting
in isolation? Single joint movements that isolate a specific
muscle are very non-functional. Athletics is about the integration
of muscle groups into movement patterns. This is what you call
"functional". I mentioned earlier about the "Triple Extension". This
is training for movement not isolation.
Practical Tips for Speed Training
beginning your speed session, always get a good warm-up in. This
your body temperature and get a good sweat going on the forehead.
Warm-up means move
your body. Try not to sit down & stretch, but rather incorporate
"Dynamic Stretches/movement stretches along with
athletic body movements (See warm-up ideas on training plans).
work demands a lot of motivation. Another great reason to get warmed
you feel like getting after the training session.
intense, less is more. Remember you are training speed, it is not a
or at least minimize distance running. Slow, aerobic, distance work
reduce your explosiveness and hinder strength gains. Sport is about
speed, change of
direction, and speed endurance. Shorter intense work and interval
training are better ways of training. Use anaerobic
training to get aerobic benefits. Condition for your sport by
playing your sport. If not, try to mimic your sport
through interval type training.
development should be performed when the body is rested or in a
state. Just like in the weight room where speed/power lifts should
be performed first,
perform speed training at the beginning of a workout, and then work
speed is an optimal combination of stride length and stride
not develop one to the exclusion of the other.
is a motor task so you can learn to run faster by focusing on proper
• "Arms drive the legs." Arms are essential in sprinting. When
arms help you drive the legs to develop more force into the ground
to explode. When reaching
maximal speed, the arms are there for balance and tempo.
speed training methods and intensity to avoid building a speed
again, is similar to strength training. Repetitions, weight loads,
rest periods are all
variables that change in a program to avoid strength plateaus or
digression in strength. Do the same for your training
Ideas developed from Vern Gambetta, President of Gambetta
Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fl.
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