Nov 21, 2016
Faster Than Fast

Overspeed training can be a valuable tool for coaches in many sports. By getting athletes to perform at faster rates than they’re accustomed to, athletes can progress quickly in both raw physical ability and sport-specific talents.

But proper overspeed training requires more than simply having athletes go faster for the sake of going faster. On its web site, USA Hockey offers its coaches some advice on overspeed training that is also very applicable to other sports.

How It Works

Overspeed training is usually done in one of two ways. One is by using outside forces to help players run or perform other motions faster than they could without these aids. “Overspeed training is traditionally done by using either downhill running or bands that facilitate you having to recover your stride length faster because you’re literally running faster than you would be able to do on your own,” said Kevin Neeld, Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance, and the strength and conditioning coach for the US Women’s National Team

The other is by having athletes enhance their mastery of sport skills by performing them at top speed. “You can design drills where you have people build up speed … and then having them go through some skill components that have been developed under slower speeds and more controlled situations prior to that,” Neeld said.

Slowing the Game Down

By practicing at a quicker pace than they usually play, athletes learn to how to adapt in ways that pay off during games, which seem slower by comparison.

“I always say that I think the best hockey players see the game slow,” Neeld said. “They’re able to see the play develop and execute plays even if they’re moving very quickly; they can see things happen. Overspeed training is an opportunity to speed the game up and pull them out of their comfort zone so that when it comes game-time, things actually appear to be moving a little slower than how they’ve trained.”

Failure As Part of the Process

When coaches have their athletes do overspeed training, it’s important to remember that the benefits will only come if the athletes are working faster than they’re used to, which also means they will make mistakes. But you’d rather have athletes struggle with performing at higher speeds than slow down so they can be successful.

“If you never make those mistakes at high speed, if you always slow down to accommodate your current comfort zone, then you’re never going to develop those skill sets at high speeds. It’s important to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Neeld said.

This can require taking a more hands-off approach than you may be used to. “It’s easy to micro-manage and to put the players in positions that guarantees they will be successful. I think sometimes that’s helpful, but we all learn from our mistakes,” Neeld says. “In this case, getting some repetitions in and letting kids figure it out without over-instructing the process will allow them to learn skills in a way that will be longer-lasting than just executing them the way the coach is telling them.”

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: