SPEED and ITS RELEVANCE TO SPORT
Speed, the ability
to move rapidly over a given distance, has been redefined many times over
the past 40 years due to improvements in the application of sports science
to coaching and training. It is not only applied to the act of running
fast, but also to throwing, hitting, striking and jumping, which all require
speed and quick reaction time.
The ability to move rapidly has been an integral part of the great success
many athletes have achieved in their chosen sport. Leyton Hewitt (Tennis),
Sherelle McMahon (Netball), Andrew Walker (Rugby Union), Michael Jordan
(Basketball), Marion Jones (Track and Field) and Michael Klim (Swimming)
are all examples of successful athletes who have had the ability of great
speed. The athlete who is able to outsprint an opponent, throw a ball
faster and further, hit faster and harder, and jump longer or higher has
a distinct advantage over their fellow competitors.
Less than 20 years ago, many coaches believed that great speed was a natural
gift and that the key to a good team, for instance, was the recruitment
of naturally fast players. It has now been shown that with the correct
training program, any athlete can achieve a significant improvement in
speed performance, be it in sprinting, throwing, or jumping. It is through
the long-term planning of correct speed training methods that athletes
can reach their speed potential in their chosen sport. These training
methods require only minor changes to the athletes' current training programs,
but the results can lead to enormous gains in field, track or on-court
performance. Many current training programs unfortunately lead to a decrease
in speed of movement - this is obviously not a desirable outcome. It is
essential that athletes at least maintain their current speed levels so
as not to decrease their playing or performing potential.
This book has been written to demystify the development of speed and speed
strength (power) attributes in athletes in all sports. I have attempted
to put together a training manual that will serve coach and athlete alike
as a reference guide to the many components of training that should be
addressed if greater speed and power performance is required.
This book is divided into three parts:
" the first part provides a background to speed development and an
introduction to its components;
" the second part presents exercises and drills that are designed
to develop and sustain each of these components; and
" the third part details speed development as it relates to specific
groups, namely children and team-sport athletes.
The structure of this book allows the reader to treat it as a narrative,
starting at Chapter 1 and reading to the finish, or for it to be used
as a specific reference for any speed and power concerns that the reader
may have - each chapter can be read in isolation and will supply the reader
with information that can be readily used in a variety of training sessions.
To make this book even easier to use, each chapter ends with a section
on coaching implications which acts as a summary of the main training
issues that have been covered.
It is my hope that you, the reader, finds this book a comprehensive and
practical reference for essential drills and exercises, and that it stimulates
the development of new exercises to assist in the building of speed and
power in your athletes or yourself.