Speed Training Considerations

The interesting irony is that every sports coach demands great speed of their players and yet true sprint training is scarcely seen in strength and conditioning practice. The reason seems to be a lack of education where many coaches feel that performing high volumes of running with maximal effort is enough to develop speed qualities. It is commonplace to find coaches rapidly rotating through players with a wide variety of different “speed” drills where very little rest and recovery is taking place. The reality is that true speed development MUST occur in the absence of fatigue. The great sprint coach Charlie Francis was adamant about this: if the athlete is getting tired, then by definition he/she is unable to operate at maximum output ability (4).

True speed training must occur with very high intensities (i.e. 95-100% of best sprint time) and full recovery. The simplest rule of thumb in relation to recovery time between sprinting efforts is that 30-60 seconds should be taken for every 10 meters or yards being covered in the sprint (14). For example:

  • 10 Meters/Yards: 30-60 sec. rest
  • 20 Meters/Yards: 1-2 min. rest
  • 30 Meters/Yards: 90 sec-3 min. rest, etc.

Read the rest of Cameron Josse's excellent article here.

Cameron brings up great points about training to build speed. When doing true speed training, the athlete MUST have full recovery between sets. Also, like I mentioned in my resisted sprinting article, Cameron mentions that it's best to take a comprehensive approach to training. That means coaches and athletes should incorporate ALL forms of sprint and resistance training to get the best results.