Previously I explained the inefficiency in the current state of speed training for athletes. We are so accustomed to running often that we do not give ourselves the chance to run at our fastest. This week we dive into the multi-faceted approach to building the faster athlete. I will outline a few rules that we implement strategically at Driven to create great results for our athletes and pieces of information that should be “ah-ha” moments for coaches and parents alike.
If you are not assessing, you are just guessing
Everything starts with understanding anatomy and biomechanics and then utilizing your assessment process to give you clear information. At Driven, we use the Functional Movement Screen, which is a 7 part biomechanical screen to give us a clear picture of where our athletes are starting from an anatomical standpoint.
This is not a vertical jump or sprint test as that illustrates the performance the athletes are already capable of without considering compensatory patterns. The Functional Movement Screen gives us the information to address the weakest link in the chain so we can make a more efficient athlete. With that information, we are able to construct a strategy so they are fully able to express their speed and power without compensation. Without having an appropriate screen in place to identify those compensations we will only be guessing at possible causes.
If you do not move well, you cannot move faster
This all starts with warm-up techniques and strategies. Again, this is an area that the status-quo is not doing the athlete any justice. Traditionally, athletes either do basic static stretching or they are put through a semi-cardio circuit just to get their heart rates up
All athletes need to be taught how to properly foam roll so they release any built up tension and lengthen soft-tissue. This does not mean that they go through a foam roller like you a rolling a pizza! Then they need to be taught mobility drills that appropriately challenges joint range of motion and joint stability. To optimally prepare each athlete they first need to warm their tissue (via foam rolling) then their joints (via mobility), lastly their muscles through more active movement sequences. This hierarchy must be consistent and it must challenge the athlete to move BETTER and not just more often.
Speed Is Built In The Hips
Ask an athlete to “get into their hips” and they will look at you with a blank face. It does not matter how talented they are at their sport, the majority of athletes have no idea how to move their hips to optimize explosiveness and speed. Athletes have learned at an early age how to bend their knees, to stay low, and to squat, but we have never taught them how to bend at their hips FIRST and then their knees.
Applying the hip hinge pattern unlocks unknown power because athletes are starting to use their entire kinetic chain to generate force. Before, they were just using their knees to push and bending at their lower back. Ask any basketball player who has played defense for 30 seconds what hurts and they will say their back every time!
The problem is that teaching athletes how to move from their hips is CHALLENGING! They have never done it so they want to hunch their backs, round their shoulders, and bend at their knees over and over again. BUT, when you teach them how to ‘push their butts back’ and ‘keep a neutral spine,’ they all of a sudden have unlocked athletic potential they never new they had.
These are the first three rules we apply to each of our athletes training at Driven that we feel puts them a more efficient path to increased speed while continuing to lower the risk of injury. Next week I will address how developing movement skills is a more efficient way to enhance speed then applying random drills.
If you feel this information could benefit others please feel free to share it with friends, co-workers, or coaches!