Speed Agility and Quickness Training

Most sports require Speed, Agility and Quickness or SAQ for short. This area of performance requires players to move their feet quickly, with power to evade or intercept the opposition. This month we review the crucial aspects of speed, quickness and agility in time for the commencement of the football and rugby seasons. These ideas are taken from Vern Gambetta one of the world’s leaders in speed and agility training.

Most sports require Speed, Agility and Quickness or SAQ for short. This area of performance requires players to move their feet quickly, with power to evade or intercept the opposition. This month we review the crucial aspects of speed, quickness and agility in time for the commencement of the football and rugby seasons. These ideas are taken from Vern Gambetta one of the world’s leaders in speed and agility training.

  • Athletes should be well rested preferably after a recovery day and at the beginning of the session
  • Always use a dynamic warm up that stretches all working muscles and induces a light sweat.
  • Minimise long slow training, the aerobic conditioning should have been done if the off season
  • Strength training should be programmed to be at a maximal strength development phase and incorporation of the Olympic lifts and their variations (only people trained in coaching these lifts should attempt to use them in their programs as they can be dangerous if taught incorrectly) is recommended
  • Train good hip mobility, hurdle walks a good example of opening the hip flexors and extensors
  • Distances and running angles should be specific to the sport of the athlete
  • Correct arm drive is essential, providing both balance and power transfer to the lower body. For sports where the ball is held in hand devise drills that incorporate this into your speed drills
  • For the legs focus on “triple extension” of the hip, knee and ankle
  • Over-speed training can assist in improving stride frequency and length, however use with caution as it can impact on technique. Hills should not have more than a 7 degree slope
  • Aim for a combination of optimal stride length and frequency, too much of one or the other will negatively impact on speed
  • Resisted speed training such as hills (no more than a 7 degree slope) or sleds (no more than 10% of the athlete’s body weight). Too much slope or weight will slow the athlete down too much and change the biomechanics of their running style in a negative fashion
  • Ensure plenty of rest between sets and aim to have no more than 8 reps in a set
  • Use long recovery periods as it is crucial that the athlete actually moves fast to become fast, a slow fatigued athlete will learn to become slow
  • Before developing speed endurance develop speed, posture and technique
  • In the gym address postural issues and strength issues to enhance technique
  • For reaction use drills that focus on sprinting and reacting to auditory and visual cues
  • The key thing to remember with speed training is that it must be performed quickly and work over the key distances for your sport. Ensure that there is plenty of rest between sets and sessions. It is also important to realise that other training sessions can interfere with the quality of speed sessions and their sequencing in the training week is important to consider during the specific preparatory and pre-competitive phases.

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