“Speed Kills” is a common phrase heard around the sporting world. And, its no wonder, because in the modern sporting world all elements of movement are dependent upon speed. All athletes are measured for their speed - how fast you can run, jump, change direction, swing and throw. These physical attributes are a critical component of an athlete’s skill set and success on the field or court.
Now, its important to remember that not everyone can be Usain Bolt, who holds 6 Olympic gold medals and the title as fastest man in the world. But, if you want to become faster this off-season, here are 5 ways to get it done through speed and agility training.
5 Tips to Get Faster with Speed and Agility Training
Tip #1: Increased Flexibility
A flexible muscle is a fast muscle. The elasticity of your muscles, the ability for them to contract and expand when called upon is essential when building speed. You can achieve gains in flexibility through a variety of ways, including:
- Dynamic Stretching – in which muscles are propelled into an extended range of motion.
- PNF Stretching (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) – that takes advantage of muscle and its increased vulnerability. This method trains stretch receptors to become used to increased range of muscle length.
Tip #2: Core Strength
Superior core strength is vital to elite athletic performance. An athlete’s core muscles are a key focal point within all successful speed and agility training programs. The strength of your core has a significant effect on the ability for transfer energy to limbs – the core is the engine that makes an athlete go. Core strength can be improved by:
- Abdominal and lower back strengthening exercises that are dynamic in nature and simulate athletic movement.
- Medicine Ball Drills are great too
Tip #3: Conditioning and Lower Body Fat
Effective speed and agility training is difficult to achieve with an athlete that is not conditioned properly. It is nearly impossible to exert the amount of energy needed to see positive training effects, as Type 1, or slow twitch, must be trained and conditioned to provide a solid foundation for Type 2, or fast twitch, to be tapped into. Conditioning can be improved through:
- A sound interval running program
- Lowering body fat to make your body more proficient to increase athletic performance
Tip #4: Improve Elastic Muscle Strength
Improving elastic muscle strength helps an athlete’s ability to contract muscles quickly in order to over come other forces on the field or court. Ways to improve elastic muscle strength include:
- Plyometric, or jump training, exercises
- Bungee cord work, tire pulls and parachute runs
Tip #5: Technique
Running is a natural movement but correct form is learned. I strongly suggest you find a speed and agility training coach in your area to help you improve in this area. Proper technique will make your movements proficient and fluid, as well as eliminate poor habits that could be holding you back.
There is simply no substitute for speed. If you work hard on improving in these 5 areas of speed and agility training, you’ll see tremendous improvements in your overall speed and athletic performance.