No doubt about it, during the past three decades the one athletic attribute that has most clearly transcended the majority of sports and most clearly impacted sports performance has been explosive power – namely speed, agility, quickness and jumping ability. Yet, for so many athletes explosive speed, agility, quickness and jumping ability continues to be a key athletic attribute that remains just beyond their reach. The ‘traditional’ view is that an athlete who does not possess great natural speed, agility and quickness can never become a great athlete. This is simply not true! With the right training, an athlete who was not ‘born quick’ can certainly become quick, and an athlete who was not gifted with tremendous jumping ability can certainly make significant improvements to their jumping ability. In a similar way, an athlete who already possesses good athletic ability can certainly make great improvements and reach that proverbial ‘next level.’ While it is true that our genetic makeup is largely responsible for our muscle fiber type composition (a major contributor to explosive power), the latest sports science research conclusively proves that almost all athletes can make significant speed, agility, quickness and vertical leap improvements! The key to these improvements is the right kind of training.
Two of the main goals of any explosive speed, agility, quickness, and vertical leap training program should be to rapidly improve sports performance and reduce the risk of injury. Unfortunately, many of the older more traditional training programs have not accomplished these goals. In fact, many athletes using these programs fail to see the improvement they wanted, and actually increase their risk of injury. Let me explain.
All movement can be broken down into three plains of motion or directions – forwards and backwards (the Sagital Plane), side to side (the Frontal Plane), and rotational movement (the Transverse Plane) and three muscle actions - acceleration (concentric), stabilization (isometric), and deceleration (eccentric). Most sports require the ability to explosively move in all three directions and to explosively accelerate, decelerate, functionally stabilize, and explosively accelerate again. Yet, older ineffective forms of training traditionally have emphasized just one plain of motion (which is the sagital plain - for example: sprints, squats, lunges, leg presses, and leg curls) and one muscle action - primarily acceleration. But functional movement and competitive sports is just not like this, and this is why close to 80% of all sports injuries occur without any contact with opponents and usually when an athlete decelerates and rotates (such as during a change in direction). Athletes must train in all three plains of motion and with all muscle actions (acceleration, deceleration, stabilization), to create a much safer and much more effective program. In addition, workouts should be both age specific AND sport specific. This is very important. A nine-year-old football player should not be using the same program as a fourteen-year-old basketball player or a nineteen-year-old hockey player. Construct a needs analysis of the sport. What are the dominant planes of motion and muscle actions used by the sport and position of the athlete? What are the energy/endurance demands? What are the rest ratio’s? What level of intensity is demanded in each phase of the game and for each position? A program should be built around these components. Finally, the use of effective goal setting, training logs and charts to measure and monitor progress and improvements is an additional, often ignored, component that is very important to overall motivation levels and thus also important to the overall success of any explosive speed, agility and quickness program.
If you dedicate yourself to following these training principles, you too can gain that all important ‘explosive step’ on your competition for that winning-edge.
This article is an excerpt from SPEED-PACKS – Explosive Speed, Agility, Quickness Training Pack manufactured by the Icebox Athlete Company. Among other sports, SPEED-PACKS contains speed and agility drills for youth, high school and college football, speed training for wrestlers, agility and speed drills for basketball, baseball, hockey, track and field, soccer, tennis, power training for power-centric sports, speed, agility ladder exercises, jumping and vertical leap drills and skills, conditioning training tips, plyometric equipment and other invaluable speed, agility, quickness and conditioning training aids and equipment. For more information, or to order a pack, visit www.iceboxathlete.com and learn how icebox has helped some of the World’s greatest athletes.
About the author and founder of the SPEED-PACKS Training System:
Spencer Wood MS, BA, BS, CSCS, PES, Member AAASP, is an internationally renowned speaker and dynamic trainer of athletes and coaches in the area of Winning Mental Skills & Toughness Training and Explosive Speed Training. Spencer continues to use his unique blend of passion for athletic excellence to impact the lives and careers of 1000’s of athletes and coaches of all ages from middle school to the professional ranks. www.iceboxathlete.com
No portion of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the Icebox Athlete National Marketing Director.
The Icebox Athlete Company is also a leading provider of Mental Skills, Sports Psychology and Athletic Toughness Training Programs. The Icebox Ultimate Mental Skills & Toughness Training System is a multi-CD, mental skills and toughness training program with program manual, success tips, progress chart, and 26 day success plan. icebox is the Preferred Mental Skills & Toughness Training Provider of the WBCA. For more information, or to order a copy, visit www.iceboxathlete.com and learn how icebox has helped some of the World’s greatest athletes. About the author and founder of the icebox Training System: