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.