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Speed and Agility Development

Everyday I answer e-mails on a countless number of sports performance enhancement subjects. The one topic I seem to spend the most time answering questions on is the topic of speed development and agility. Those of who you who know of my program or have gone through it or are presently training with me are well aware of my stance and philosophies on speed and agility development. 

I have been a performance enhancement specialist for 19 years and I have seen all too often that the number one limiting factor in athletic development can be a lack of speed. It can make or break an athlete! It can determine whether you make a team or don’t make a team, determine whether you get playing time or don’t get playing time and literally if you will make it at all in that or any specific sport! Athletically speaking the whole science and true understanding of speed development seems to cause some major anxiety amongst athletes. Especially if they are speed challenged. The next question they ask themselves is what methods or program design should I choose to help improve sport speed. This is where things can get ugly!

In my experience” strength training” and “speed training” have been labeled by many coaches and trainers as two completely different sciences and each is to be trained for specifically separate. Basically the idea is that if you want to get faster and build “endurance” you run a lot, if you want to get stronger you lift weights and if you want to become more agile you do agility drills. Sounds simple but this is a completely flawed and ineffective model of overall speed and athletic development. 

In my years of training athletes I have used many different training methods to enhance their speed some methods with tremendous success and other methods with mediocre results. The combination of the successes and failures of these different training protocols has unquestionably molded the way I evaluate, train and develop my strength and conditioning programs for my athletes. In today’s new culture of sports performance enhancement the athlete, parent or consumer has an overwhelming choice of training programs to choose from that make high promises of all around improvements in strength, speed, quickness, agility, endurance and improved sport performance. Unfortunately few of these programs deliver even the basic groundwork for so called improved sports performance and mostly neglect the number one component of what should be the primary focus in a sports performance enhancement program, injury reduction and prevention.

In today market the new model speed, agility and quickness (SAQ or speed schools) sports training centers are capitalizing on the growing billion dollar youth/athletic sports performance industry and in my opinion ruining many of our young athletes.  I would refer to many of these programs or individuals as the “speed merchants” who are deceiving athletes and parents into this idea that speed, agility and quickness programs are the holy grail of speed development and will turn you or your young athlete into a star when in fact the prime motivation is $$. The fact is that everyone is looking for the quick fix or the six week program that will turn you or your athlete into Carl Lewis overnight.

The reality is anyone can throw out terminology such “deceleration” and “acceleration” but if the individuals teaching this stuff don’t understand themselves what it is and how it is really developed than it means nothing to you or them. The truth is that these speed programs that herd 20 athletes into a facility at a time at $30 per session promising big gains in linear and lateral speed are too irresistible for parents not to fall for.

Years ago I met one of my mentors, world class strength coach Juan Carlos Santana and it wasn’t until then that I really understood what it took and what methods were really most effective in training athletes of any age and level. Coach Santana has coached many top athletes, Olympic medalists and world record holders. I credit him with helping me develop my own unique model of performance enhancement that ultimately changed the direction of my career. After years of studying under him and learning his methodologies I truly began to understand how and what athletic performance enhancement was. The first year after spending a week with him in his Boca Raton training facility the Institute of Human Performance, my income doubled, my athletes got bigger, stronger and faster in half the time they did before and my training business blossomed into what it has become today “Coro Fitness”. Coach Santana basically taught me these three basic things that I have lived by since then. It literally changed how I trained my athletes from that point:

1.     You are only as strong as your weakest link. Basically this means if your body lacks muscle balance, mobility and flexibility you are dead in the water or field

2.     Strength is the ultimate key to improved performance. When I stopped wasting my time running my athletes around in circles doing “speed drills” and focused them on improving overall body strength and balance three things happened. My athletes began to dominate at their sports and outshine their opponents and peers even if they were not the most talented athletes on the field

3.     How counterproductive aerobic conditioning is for athletes. I would say this is the number one thing I see today in my training practice when I evaluate an athlete. Many of today’s sport coaches are absolutely ruining our kids and even at the  college and elite levels with excessive running and over conditioning. Compared back to 1998 I see three times more injuries in young athletes today because of faulty training advice

This article was provided by Athletic Edge
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