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SPPPPEED TRAINING- Building an explosive foundation!!

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Speed is a massive determinant of successful athletic performance. We hear it all the time, I need to be faster to the ball, I need to be faster to beat my opponent.

So what we normally do is jump straight into acceleration drills, top end speed drills, plyometrics etc… And that’s fine, we need to train fast to be fast BUT most of the time athletes don’t have a proper foundation to develop speed from. It’s essentially like trying to build up weight on a squat when we can’t control a body weight squat with proper form. We get away with it for a while but eventually something in the chain will break down and we can get injured, it’s exactly the same with speed training.

Even getting away from the injury side of things, if we look at speed from a power point of view the aim of acceleration is to develop power through the foot, transferring if up through the kinetic chain to drive us forward. If we have a kink in the chain anywhere we “leak” energy meaning we’re not using the power we’ve generated to its full extent. A simple solution to this is pulling things back a step and taking the time to build a solid base before we look to get faster.

So how do we do this??

Answer: WALL DRIVES……. We see them done all the time but if you follow a very simple concept by Loren Landow, (the 4 Ps of speed) you’ll be able to put your wall drives to great use.

What do the 4 Ps stand for??

Posture

Position

Placement

Pattern

It’s a logical sequence from simply finding the correct posture right through to developing rhythm and tempo when we get to the patterning phase

1 – POSTURE

Can we find and hold the correct posture we need for acceleration?? If we don’t have a good foundation the house starts to crack and eventually falls down. Take time to get this P right before you go anywhere else…

  • 45 deg angle on wall or bar
  • Head tucked back into neutral position
  • Shoulders pulled back (now this changes, I like to cue tight shoulders for someone starting out as it encourages tension down the posterior chain BUT as an athlete gets more advanced this flips to pushing the bar or wall away!!)
  • Ribs down and hips tucked under (core engaged)
  • Weight through mid to fore foot, heels just off ground (NOT on balls of feet)

2 – POSITION

Once we find the correct posture what happens when we drive the knee up in to a unilateral stance??

The table below is what we normally see V’s what we should see happen…

COMMON OPTIMAL
Knee drive too high or too low Knee drive so thigh is perpendicular to
torso not parallel to the ground
Heel tucked under thigh or glutes Open shin angle with heel pulled away from glute*
Foot dropped or toes pointed Locked foot with midfoot pulled up to shin
Hip drop on stance leg (seen from behind) Level pelvis with minimal rotation on stance leg (seen from behind)

Ideally what we’re looking for is to DRIVE THE KNEE AND KICK THE WALL

*keep shin angle slightly less than 90 deg for novice athletes but as they get stronger and more elastic open shin angle accordingly.

3 – PLACEMENT

Now that we have the hip, knee, ankle and posterior chain locked and loaded with the proper position, what happens when we strike the ground with the foot??

When accelerating the aim is to direct the force through the foot back behind the body to propel us forward (every action has an equal and opposite reaction!!) so what we’re looking for is the following

  • Foot strike is under or slightly behind the hips or centre of mass
  • Foot strike is on the mid foot not the toes

*as we get more advanced we can start to look at keeping a locked foot and ankle throughout the drive but to begin with if we can strike the correct position with the mid foot we’re on the right track.

4 – PATTERN

This is where we start to look at developing pattern to the actual drive part of wall drives.

  • Start off from the proper position with a simple “1 count” knee switch from left knee up to right knee and stick the top position. All we’re looking to see here is can the athlete find and maintain the correct posture and position on the knee switch working on alternating sides each time.
  • If they’re comfortable with that take it up to a “2 count” going from left to right and back to left again, now we’ve introduced a little bit more chaos but the aim is the same… can the athlete find and maintain the correct posture and position on the final knee drive.
  • Lastly we’ll take it up to a “3 count” starting on the left with 3 switches ending up with a right knee drive. At this stage we’re starting to really challenge rhythm and tempo for the athlete, can they maintain a proper balanced rhythm while maintaining posture, position and placement?

*Closing your eyes and listening to the foot strike on this one can help you pick up imbalances between sides. So is the athlete striking the ground harder on one side which could indicate a strength imbalance or are they spending too much time on the ground on one foot which could signal a need for more reactive training and ground reaction force development.

So now you have some very simple tools to put to use with your athletes to develop their speed that will cost you absolutely NOTHING but a little bit of consistency and attention to detail.

Click the video above to see the drills in action and check out some of the other videos while you’re there for more tips to on how to make your training more effective.

As always if you have any questions or if there anything you’d like to see covered just let me know.

If you’re interested in maximising your potential come train with us at Doolin Performance, click here to book a free consultation and screening!!