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Running Ahead of Speed (Part IV): Less Coaching and More Teaching Ė A Speed Development Asset

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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My premise for speed development is centered on the title. As coaches, we  sometimes coach first and teach second. Our mental energy is usually revved up when we hit the field and sometimes we overlook teaching moments that could be useful.

Coaching is defined as teaching and training athletes or performers. Teaching speed requires just that Ė teaching, not merely directing a workout based on activity and the number of repetitions completed. It should be providing information that is viable for processing skills that are useful during moments of competition. Take more time and slow down the workout. Donít focus on volume. A better plan would be to ramp up the players by enhancing their listening skills. Slowing down and explaining thoroughly will assist the process greatly. This will depend on slowing down the training pace and being more precise and clear on procedures and methods being applied.

Less reps, not more that are quality and accompanied by a clear understanding are critical. Performance results will be much better and consistent. This will depend on you slowing down the training pace and be more precise and clear on procedures and methods being applied. 

Ingredient Required

Good application must begin with sound foundational principles. Youíll then need to organize a progressive teaching package. The foundation of movement theory has to be established so you can have some order to build from. A progressively arranged system must be established that has week to week connective progression. Only then can you improve to varying levels of speed effectiveness as your training progresses.

When teaching speed development, you should become accustomed to referring back  to the technical foundation principles. This becomes a keystone for speed success. No matter how advanced you become with execution of techniques, the faster one runs, the more movement skills break down. Thatís a human condition, which is why a good foundation of technical principles must be in place. High quality execution of understood methods is paramount for solid performance results when running with intense frequency.

Do it Justice - Make Learning Important

We can actually coach and not teach. Itís easy. Just keep the traffic moving. This assures volume but it shouldnít be the objective. Your players will be way ahead of their opponents when itís time to line up. Not only will team speed be enhanced but the movement effectiveness will be more consistent.

When you have your athletes lined up for speed training, slow the pace. Explain the technical application thatís important for each rep theyíre about to execute. If this leads to fewer reps, so be it.

In my packaged system, I allow only three reps on any one drill. This creates focus or failure and you canít be successful without focus. Focus is paramount for speed skill learning. One of the more indigenous aspects to getting faster is learning how to be tuned into a workout from a mental standpoint. Your athletes will buy into your processing if they can feel the technical changes taking place. This creates a solid level platform for them to grab onto and enjoy the experience while delivering great results. It also helps facilitate a desire to get better.
Less is More - How it Works

Conventional wisdom says that we must get as much done as is possible in the time allotted. That can be the case in certain training regimens but itís not true when speed is the game. What makes teaching people to run fast enjoyable is having the ability to insert technical variables that can instigate significant movement changes. Keep in mind the bodyís moving parts are non-stop, allowing numerous arm/leg cycles to be taken when running fast.

All of this activity is being recorded, each and every motion. If the movements are executed with good technical function, youíll have solid recordings that will eliminate the bad imprints that are stored in the athleteís hard drive.

Letís compare it with pitching or hitting a baseball. You have to execute a ton of throws or bat swings to get numerous repetitions in. One run through a drill can generate 40-50 plus cycles taken. If you were to teach a pitcher to throw properly, you would have to have a lot of reps because itís one throw at a time. Not so with speed training. When arms, legs and torso is involved in aggressive movement action, the mind has to be constantly on point to control the speed of moving parts. I term this aggressive cyclic compounding with excellent control. Thatís what makes running fast different to teach than any other skill application.

Less is quality and gives you a chance to perfect a craft instead of force feeding the issue. Intense energy is what all coaches want but in order to magnify production you must do less and raise the bar for execution of body control.

An NFL scout today told me that when they analyze athletes at the combine, they look at more than just the numbers. They are concerned with how they handle themselves athletically during the test procedures. If they are smooth and in control, itís a huge factor in their analysis. Less reps and more technical teaching is the best method for maximizing speed development results. Be a good teacher and youíll have kids running fast.


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