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Speed and Agility Training Advice for the Athlete

Posted by Neptune Barbell on 4/29/2015

Speed and agility is an important part of many common sports and developing these two attributes can make a massive difference to your performance.  There are many ways you can increase your speed depending on many attributes such as your level of fitness, training experience, body composition etc.

For the average trained athlete the quickest way to increase linear speed is through short sprints with full recovery (5-50m for team sport athletes) and improving technique. Weight training (via improving relative body strength i.e. strength/bodyweight) will help improve speed. Without sprinting it will not have much of an impact on increasing your speed. The same goes for leaping and bounding plyometric drills and improving flexibility and mobility. Improving technique requires a coach to analyze, critique and suggest improvements whether that coach is physically present at your training sessions or not (i.e. posting videos of your training sessions online to your coach is an option).

For the untrained athlete the quickest way to increase linear speed (as well as agility) is through improvements in body composition (i.e. losing fat if overweight or increasing muscle mass if underweight) and GPP (stands for general physical preparation i.e. in the case of sprinting boosting general fitness and relative body strength). Max effort sprinting and agility training is not required until the untrained athlete has reached a suitable body composition and level of GPP.

Agility refers to the ability to start, stop and change direction. Most training drills that develop agility can be very stressful on the joints and on soft tissue and hence must be done with low volume. Examples of these higher impact drills are plyometric drills (leaping and bounding) and cone drills. Medicine ball drills fall under the low impact category. In the in-season it is not necessary to work on high impact agility drills. Practices and games will cover specific agility required for the sport. Doing more agility drills will not provide any extra benefit during this time. It will only increase the chance of injury.

There's a lot of misinformation out there about sprint training, so be careful what you read. In the opinion of most good sprint coaches, getting fast requires you to train smart rather than train hard. Whenever you feel you start to slow from fatigue, the session should stop immediately. It's important to remember you are not training to be a slow, long distance runner, you're training to be a powerful, explosive athlete.

It is recommended you have at least 48 hours rest between high intensity training days in order to optimize the functioning of the CNS so you can train at your best every high intensity session, so between each high intensity day you can have a low intensity day to recuperate.

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