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Training for speed and power in sport and fitness
Training for speed and power in sport and fitness

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2.4 Speed training in action

In Activity 3 you will watch a short video of speed training in action which will help you consider how a strength and conditioning coach could use different methods with athletes.

Activity 3 Speed training in action

Timing: Allow 30 minutes for this activity

Watch Video 3, in which strength and conditioning coach Fiona Scott at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, leads a speed training session for some university athletes and students.

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Video 3 Fiona Scott: speed training
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Now answer the following questions:

  1. What information does the strength and conditioning coach gather to plan speed training sessions?
  2. What speed training activities are being performed by the athletes and to what extent are they specific to the demands of the sport?
  3. How does the strength and conditioning coach progress speed training exercises?
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  1. Before planning speed sessions, Fiona the strength and conditioning coach will talk to the athlete to confirm their training age and injury history. Then Fiona will perform a needs analysis of both the athlete and their sport to determine the biomechanical, physiological and injury prevention needs.
  2. In Video 3 you see the coach deliver speed drills (primary method), resistance-band acceleration (secondary method), and plyometric training. Speed resistance and assistance training methods could be useful to any individual who needed to develop speed and therefore could be utilised by individuals from a range of sports. As always, the training principle of specificity should be considered when identifying appropriate speed training exercises. The examples in Video 3 are all running-based and would therefore be appropriate for individuals who wish to develop their running speed (such as sprinters, footballer players, rugby players). Alternative exercises would be more appropriate for those who needed to develop speed in other movements (such as throwers, bowlers, swimmers). For example, L’ubos et al. (2018) found that swimming training with a parachute (speed resistance) improved swimming speed.
  3. Speed training can be progressed by increasing the volume (the demand that the athlete places on their body), load (resist movement or increase height in plyometrics) or frequency (number of sessions per week) of training.

Speed resistance training, as with the resistance-band sprinting you saw in Video 3, is hypothesised to have various benefits (for example, improving acceleration), but if the loads are not appropriate for the individual that may overly affect the mechanics of running (DeWeese and Nimphuis, 2016). Considerable research has been done on speed resistance training. For example, in a review of the literature Alcaraz et al. (2018) concluded that resisted sled training is an effective method of improving sprint performance. However, there is limited research evidence to support the use of speed assistance and it can lead to negative effects such as an increase in braking forces (DeWeese and Nimphuis, 2016). The strength and conditioning coach should consider the robustness of research evidence supporting whatever methods they use with their athletes.

Having looked at speed training, you will now consider power.