How We Develop and Maintain an Athlete's Top Speed
Posted January 17, 2018
Developing an athlete’s skill in top speed is about more than just running as fast as possible. While any athlete can reach top speed, the key is to be able to maintain it for long distances. Many athletes need this skill for sports such as track, football and soccer. Learning the skill of top speed requires a multifaceted approach to training, and it is one of the cornerstones of our Amateur Athlete speed training program at Athlete Training and Health.
By definition, top speed is the post-acceleration phase of a sprint when maximum speed has been reached. To be able to maintain this phase, you need full body strength, especially in the hamstrings and glutes, proper running mechanics, power and core stability.
Whether you’re running a 400-meter relay sprint or going for an 80-yard touchdown pass, the key to maintaining your top speed is dependent on stride length and stride frequency. To improve stride length, or the distance from one foot contact to the next, you need to develop strength. The more force you can put into the ground with each stride, the more distance you can cover, which translates to better speed. The strength training programs at ATH are designed to target all the muscle groups used in top speed, so you can maximize the distance covered with each stride.
Along with stride length, you also need to develop stride frequency, which is achieved by learning the proper technique and mechanics of running, and moving as fast as possible. The goal of top speed training is to learn the proper form of arm action, knee drive, foot strike and leg cycle in a sprint and making it second nature. And teaching your body to move as fast as possible is all about neural stimulation, which is why our integration of plyometrics in the ATH speed program is an essential part of training.
Of course, in order to execute these elements of strength, power and technique during a sprint, you need a strong and stable core to serve as the foundation for it all. A stable torso during a sprint allows for the athlete to make more efficient movements so that no energy is lost in unnecessary rotation of the hips and shoulders. In other words, a strong core can actually help you run faster.
A sound speed training program is essential for any athlete no matter what the sport. Our performance coaches at Athlete Training and Health have the knowledge and experience to help you reach your potential in both speed and strength. Stop by and tour any of our three world-class training centers and talk to one of our performance consultants about a free evaluation, so you can start improving your speed today!