Speed Testing Mastery

February 21, 2019

The new age of using analytics to measure athleticism has resulted in many metrics that strength/conditioning coaches, athletic trainers and coaches have at their disposal for studying athlete performance. Still, there's one constant in evaluating athletic skills that has been used for decades: testing speed with sprints such as the 40-yard dash.

And there's a definite reason for that: Testing speed is a huge part of many sports.

“In football, it’s the 40-yard dash. In baseball, it’s the 60 or home to first. In soccer, softball, and lacrosse, speed-testing has become the norm.,” said Jim Kielbaso, President of the International Youth Conditioning Association and the director of the Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, Michigan. “Like it or not, those times open and close doors.  A couple tenths of a second is all it takes.”

Kielbaso has spent more than 20 years teaching athletes at every level how to run faster, and he knows it's definitely possible for an athlete to improve his or her sprint time. It's done by learning techniques that many athletes are never taught, he says.

The IYCA recently introduced a new product, Speed Testing Mastery, which provides strength & conditioning coaches and coaches with the in's and out's on helping their athletes achieve excellent results when performing these tests.

In training for speed testing, it's critical that the athletes treat this task like any other skill they are looking to master in their sport. In other words, hard work is the first step in the process.

“There isn't a magic pill.,” Kielbaso said. The athletes have to be willing to take the coaching and put in the work.”

“Athletes practice sport skills and play games all the time, Kielbaso continued, “but are they are rarely taught how to move properly; they are just expected to know how. But, if a kid has never been shown how to do something, how can you expect him/her to do it correctly?”

It's important that athletes are taught your athletes some of the most basic movement concepts in sports – running, cutting, shuffling, pivoting, jumping, etc. “Begin by teaching them like they have never performed these movements in their lives,” Kielbaso said. “In my writing and seminars, I refer to this as 'Movement Training,' and by implementing Movement Training concepts into your speed training program, your athletes will always end up farther ahead.

When it comes teaching the proper sprinting techniques, quality is more important than quantity in terms of training sessions. “Often, speed workouts turn into conditioning sessions,” said Kielbaso. Remember, the goal is improving speed and agility, not aerobic fitness. Keep the work periods short and the rest periods long so the athletes can give 100% effort on each drill. You are trying to teach the nervous system how to work more efficiently, so the athletes need to be fresh. If the rest periods are too short, the work periods too long, or the athletes are simply fatigued from previous work, mechanics will disintegrate and the same old faulty movement patterns will ultimately be reinforced.”

Kielbaso's systems have helped athletes enjoy success at the NFL Combine, turn heads at camps and grab the attention of coaches. He has helped thousands of athletes drop several tenths of a second off their times in just a few weeks.

Click here for more information on the IYCA Speed Testing Mastery Program.

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