Mar 24, 2017Focus on Fast
Jeff Kipp, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D, is Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston. Before Strake Jesuit, he was an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Kansas and spent 10 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the United States Air Force Academy. He presents often on speed development at conferences and has authored many books for the NSCA about the topic. In the following interview, he explains his ideas on imporoving speed and agility in athletes.
What’s your overall philosophy regarding speed and agility?
Kipp: Speed is important to almost every sport. For instance, I tell my soccer players, “How many balls are there on the field? Only one. So what’s everybody doing out there? They’re jostling for position, trying to get into an open spot on the field, or trying to stay with their man.” Being able to run fast and change directions efficiently is imperative to all of those activities.
When I’m putting together speed and agility programs, I incorporate exercises that will teach athletes how to load and control the body effectively, as well as generate force. However, I look at strength, speed, and agility equally, so I don’t focus all my effort on weightroom or acceleration work and then forget things like lateral movements. Programming this way makes for a balanced approach to all aspects of athletic performance.
How do you improve speed and agility?
Kipp: I have standard plyos that I use. I start with a snap-bound into base positions to teach athletes how to load the body. Then, I move into jumps where players drop into a position, hold it, and generate force. Over a longer period of time, such as an entire offseason, we’ll get into faster response exercises that incorporate the stretch-shortening cycle. This will include true plyometrics — multiple broad jumps, multiple squat jumps, and scissor jumps — that accentuate explosion.
How do you make speed and agility training sport specific?
Kipp: I’ve always thought that you don’t train speed and agility for the sport — you train athletes to become faster, more agile performers at their sport. There are going to be times in every sport when an athlete is out of position and needs to react. If you didn’t train them to be versatile with their body positions and able to move through a full range of motion, it will affect how well they can react.
What role does strength training play in your speed and agility work?
Kipp: It takes strength to slow the body, stop the body, and then reaccelerate in any given direction. So the stronger athletes are, the more easily they can stop themselves and create force against the ground to accelerate.