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Speed Report: The Pros and Cons of Speed Training Modes and Their Effectiveness

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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Speed performance for football is filled with movement requirements of varying magnitudes. Letís discuss the uniqueness of football speed and movement as it relates to training applications and playing faster as a team.

Every program should categorize which speed training procedures are the best suited for producing movements that are fast and controlled. Sometimes we look at the drills and movements and see only relative to the position requirements.

What I stress would be to improve football speed by building athletes who can control any movement change with relative ease and sustained velocity. An athletes confidence factor on the field is far and away better when a player has movement skills that will be electric and controlled no matter what challenge may be presented.

Too often we pigeon hole the athleteís talents by doing drills that are situational to only what he will encounter on a normal basis of play.

Your first priority is to define the categories of speed that are useful for football. There are a few types to consider Ė straight line lineal speed, transitional movement speed, short space quickness speed, lateral speed, sudden burst speed,  acceleration speed, curve arc speed, lineal weave speed, lateral weave speed and last, but not least, would be decelerating speeds (velocity decelerated) and re-accelerating speed from the deceleration. These types of speed training represent the majority of the categories that must be considered when you decide to work on football speed with your team. My question would be what plan do you have for taking on this project successfully as a football coach?

Most often coaches that tackle this challenge usually wind up training with lineal speed and then add a variety of agility drill work to the program. This is usually the standard for most programs during the off season as well as in season.

Football Speed vs. Lineal Sprint Speed

Although lineal speed is the preferred benchmark for the football world, it isnít going to reward you with the purest results for football speed skills. Letís consider the differences between the two types of training that are primarily used by most programs. Weíre going to break it down side and evaluate why I recommend spending the majority of your time on football speed and minimal time with lineal pursuits.

Take note of the following distinctions and why football speed is the best choice for your projected efforts:

Football Speed                                         Lineal Sprint Speed

> Short Accelerations                           vs.    > High End Velocity (Longer Space)
> Direction Changes                             vs.       > Zero Movement Displacements
> Altered Velocity Changes                  vs.    > Complete Acceleration & Velocity
> Multi-Movement Patterns                  vs.    > Straight (Lineal) Sprint
> Accels and Decels                              vs.    > Maximum Acceleration Velocity Only      
> Lateral Runs at Varying Speeds        vs.    > Lineal Only w/ Zero Variations
> Mechanical Interruption Changes      vs.      > Consistent, Constant Applications

As you can see, the variables are many with football movement with limited application control factors by comparison.                   
Your Time Counts - Use it Wisely

As you can clearly see football movement training is quite opposite from anything else, not to mention the fact that the lineal category is the least valuable to what an athlete experiences on the field. This alone is a major reason for you to value your time allotment with speed training and spend it where it has the greatest return for time spent.

Above and beyond this is the simple fact that motor skill processing is challenged greatly with variation movements and velocity interruptions. The control aspect of playing through diversified transitions of movement is purely a mechanical function of skill movement that controls motor pattern movements.

The following drill series illustrations are a prototype recommendation to all coaches for developing a combination of lineal speed and movement programming collectively. Keep in mind my suggestion of lineal speeds not being as great in value. The result doesnít preclude the usage of some lineal work applied to the package you are using. The most important use for lineal running is to provide you an opportunity to secure proper running mechanics at low impact velocities. This is the best way to teach mechanical function as a base for your advanced speed work as it progresses into high velocity activity.

Football is usually not relegated to very many plays that require lengthy lineal speed usage in vast amounts. The defensive backs, running backs and receiver positions are the athletes on the field that would want to secure a certain amount of lineal speed work to compliment the movement skills they have to apply. The amount of application time would not be a high percentage of the speed work you design, even for them. Additionally the skill position people are not running straight on every play but do need to take it deep downfield at certain times.

Movement and Lineal Speed Combinations

Included are diagrams designed to create a series that will challenge your athletes skill of movement at varying speeds while dealing with lineal objectives together. The movement set-up for each procedure on the diagrams will require cones placed at the various angles and positions that will create the desired movements needed.

Each diagram indicates the direction of changes and velocities that are designed to be used by percentages and decelerations accordingly (Yards are indicated in parenthesis).


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