Let’s face it, every athlete can benefit from becoming a faster athlete. A common misconception, however, is what type of speed is actually relevant to performance in sports. With the exception of track athletes who rely primarily on linear movement, nearly all sports require the ability to move in multiple directions in a somewhat random fashion. The term for this explosive acceleration, deceleration, and re-acceleration is agility. Lacrosse, for example, requires an attackman to cut and evade the defense in order to create scoring opportunities. The same ability is necessary for players in football, basketball, soccer, field hockey, etc. If you compete in one of these sports, you need to understand that in order to attain greater performance your training protocols MUST address your body’s capacity for acceleration, deceleration, AND re-acceleration. In addition, you must be able to do this efficiently, repetitively, and aggressively.
There are a few important terms and concepts that must be understood in order to improve your agility. First, you must be able to control your center of mass. An athlete’s center of mass is located near or around the navel (belly button) depending on the mass distribution throughout their body (an athlete with a larger upper body will have a higher center of mass). Controlling the center of mass includes balance, coordination, and technique. We utilize these skills on a daily basis to perform basic tasks but in sports it is required to execute these skills on a much higher and more efficient level. More specifically, in order to move in a certain direction the athlete must position their center of mass in that direction. This effect can be felt by simply leaning your torso towards your target. Problems arise in athletes when they have try to change direction before redirecting the momentum of their center of mass. Here at Infiniti Sports Performance we utilize multiple training drills and modalities to teach athletes how to control their center of mass.
Second, you must be able to generate force through the ground at high speeds. The amount of force you generate is irrelevant in a game if it does not happen in a very short period of time. Furthermore, you must be able to generate high rates of force relative to your body weight. Two athletes that can both generate 200 pounds of force in 0.2 seconds will have different speeds if one athlete is 200lbs and the other is 100lbs. The ability to generate force correlates to an athlete’s ability to both accelerate and decelerate. Force production is one of the main goals in any training program and should include both strength development and power development. With our athletes we always ensure they have developed proper technique and strength with their lifts before we demand the additional intent of power. The main difference between strength and power, of course, being the speed in which a movement is executed.
Finally, you must be able to react. Reaction time for every athlete can be enhanced through training and will improve their ability to create and eliminate scoring opportunities depending on what side of the field they are on. Reaction timing is achieved through various audial and visual cues during drills. The level of complexity and difficulty should always follow a logical and systematic progression. When implemented in a properly regimented training program the most sport-specific reaction drills should reflect the randomness of true in-game situations. Visual training is very important because it is our eyes that provide situational feedback to our brains before we initiate movements. The eyes are controlled by six different muscles that adapt the same way our larger muscles adapt to increased stimuli. We are one of the few training facilities around that has a specific vision training program. By training our athletes’ vision we help them develop their in-game focus and awareness on everything happening with the players around them.
While this blog is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every aspect affecting speed and agility, it intends to introduce some of the most important factors leading to enhanced performance. Our Speed Academy is one of the best ways to focus on your or your child’s technique and speed performance. We back our program with a full money-back guarantee if your child does not increase their running speed! Click here to register.