The ability to outrun the competition is a hallmark of most athletic performance. We often hear the term ‘speed’ being used when describing someone’s outstanding physical performance. However, it is important to know there is more to athletic performance than just speed. There are actually three different aspects that create superb athletic and physical performance: speed, change of direction and agility.
- Speed is the skills and abilities needed to achieve high movement velocities.
- Change of direction is the skills and abilities needed to explosively change movement direction, velocities or modes.
- Agility is the skills and abilities needed to change direction, velocity or mode in response to a stimulus.
Running speed is often what separates an elite athlete from beginner. To understand the basis of speed, we first have to bring it back to high school physics. Are you familiar with the Newton’s second law of motion? Force is equal to mass times acceleration.
F=m x a
At the end of the day, when it comes to running and speed, it all comes down to force. For example, the force of gravity keeping you on the earth that allows you to run or the force that is necessary to move you down the field. When evaluating the force of an athlete, we’re looking at how much time they spending in contact with the ground in order to generate the necessary force to move. We know a more elite athlete will move down the field quicker, but they also require much less force. An elite athlete will need less ground contact time move the same distance as a novice. In other words, this means the athlete spend more time in the air when sprinting. This is because an elite runner take longer running steps and are more efficient than the beginner.
Training For Speed
Therefore, when training to improve the speed and agility it is important to work with a professional who understands all the components of running and sprinting. A well constructed training plan should include components on sprinting, strength, and mobility.
- Don’t forget the specificity principle! The best way to improve sprinting is by maximum-velocity sprinting.
- Strength is important because sprinting relies on the ability to direct large amounts of force into the ground to propel forward.
- Full range of motion is necessary because it allows the athlete to reach optimal positions to make the most of their performance!
Contact us if you want to find out more about an individualized speed and agility program! Direct Access in NJ allows you to get in for an evaluation without you having to see your Doctor, probably quicker than you could even get that appointment, while also saving you both time and money!
Please, call us to schedule you evaluation at one of BeneFIT’s locations in Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700) with one of our highly-trained Doctors of Physical Therapy!