My kid just needs to get faster – they don’t need to lift, right?

I cannot count how many times a parent has uttered that line to me. I get it! You’re watching your child on the field and thinking if they were faster they could get to the ball more quickly, blow by that defender, and score more goals. You are correct – if they were significantly faster all of those things could be achieved.

 

 

The truth is that speed is mostly genetic and only small changes are possible. But does that mean we shouldn’t do any speed training? Of course not! You can still get faster through:

  • correcting mechanics
  • increasing speed endurance
  • increasing the rate of contraction and relaxation of muscles (if you train enough, your body will make adaptations)

Even with training, you cannot improve your speed measurements by 25% or 50%. In many cases, even small improvements on the order of 10% are not realistic. Think of the 100 yd dash — if you have a time of 12 seconds, it’s not possible that you will shave 4 to 6 seconds off, but 1 second is a possibility (that’s only an is 8.3% improvement!!!).

Improvements in strength, flexibility and body fat will lead to increases in speed.

Along with running mechanics and genetics, these are the contributing factors to maximizing an athlete’s speed ceiling. Every athlete and every sport is slightly different, but here is an overview of how much of your training should be allocated to each factor within an appropriate strength and conditioning program:

  • Strength 50%-70% (depending on athlete and sport)
  • Flexibility 10%-20%
  • Mechanics/Speed Training 20%

Lastly, find a certified strength and conditioning coach, preferably one that is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (this is the most widely recognized collegiately). He/she can help guide you on your path to achieving your maximum athletic potential!