By Brian Grasso
As the parent of a young athlete, this is going to be the most important article you ever read.
It has to do with speed training and, as a parent, what you likely don’t know about that topic.
More over, the incorrect information that many other Trainers and Coaches are giving you.
Speed for young athletes isn’t even about training – it’s about development.
Much like you wouldn’t expect your son or daughter to pass grade 2 or earn a bachelors degree in just 6 weeks, so to must you understand that optimal and lasting speed improvements don’t come in a short period of time.
They aren’t the result of training on high speed treadmills.
They don’t come from doing jump or plyometric exercises either.
The essence of creating maximal and permanent speed and agility is based on a developmental principal that involves slowly improving all of the biomotor abilities of your son or daughter.
Biomotor abilities are strength, flexibility and power.
You see, with the human body, increases in one biomotor ability will lead to increases or improvements in all of them.
That is especially true for younger athletes.
This may seem odd to you.
After all, you have been inundated by Coaches, Trainers and the media with there rants
regarding ‘specificity of training’.
That to get the specific results you want, you must train specifically for them.
Yoga for flexibility.
Weights for strength.
High speed treadmills, ladder or cone drills and plyometrics for speed.
Nothing could be farther from the truth with your young athlete.
Parents always ask me the same question –
“Brian, your athlete’s are always the fastest and most agile, but we never see you do the normal kinds of speed training that other Trainers and Coaches do. How is that possible?”
So… here’s my little secret.
To be honest, it’s not even that big a secret. Every Trainer and Coach who knows anything about training young athletes knows this – the problem is that most Trainers and Coaches DON’T know how to train young athletes properly.
I make sure my athletes are strong.
That’s my secret.
Seems fairly easy doesn’t it?
But think back to our conversation about biomotor abilities.
When you increase the level or ability in one of them, you increase them all.
Increases in strength will DRAMATICALLY increase the force output (otherwise known as speed) of a young athlete.
Strength helps a young athlete initiate movement and overcome barriers like gravity.
Strength allows a young athlete to drive and use the ground as propulsion.
This by the way, is the fundamental difference between actually running and running on high speed treadmills – a strong young athlete can accelerate through the ground and create their own momentum.
On a high speed treadmill, the ground is coming at the young athlete which means that creating force is not necessary… which one do you think is more beneficial?.
Strength is the key.
And I don’t mean that young athletes must start lifting heavy weights or performing endless sets and reps in the weight room, either.
You may be surprised to know that some of the biggest guys in the gym aren’t typically the most systemically strong.
Rather than worrying about the technique of teaching your young athlete how to squat, bench press or power clean, why not try these exercises instead:
- Bear Crawl
- Crab Walk
- Lunge Walk with Forward Raise
Do these movements across the grass, or up a hill.
To make them really challenging and effective, be sure that your son or daughter performs movements like these in a variety of directions (forwards, backwards. sideways etc).
The greatest speed benefits I know will be unlocked by starting your young athletes speed development program with some basic systemic strengthening exercises.