Every summer, I get scores of calls and emails from athletes (and parents of athletes) asking me if I can help with speed development in preparation for fall and winter sports. Invariably, they all want me to focus on the same thing — running form, mechanics, and technique. They feel that if I can correct and improve mechanical shortcomings, speed will improve.
I don’t dispute that running form is important, but it should be viewed as the “fine-tuning” and not the main area of focus. I train some very fast athletes whose technique isn’t exactly “textbook” perfect. Same goes for my highest vertical jumpers and quickest, most agile athletes. But all the fastest athletes I train have something in common: Strong, powerful hips and legs. They all have the ability to generate a lot of force against the ground to propel themselves forward (upward, laterally, etc.).
In his article, Why Power Development Must Come Before Speed Work, strength coach Rick Scarpulla asserts that “Power can overcome a lack of technique to an extent, but technique cannot overcome a lack of power.”
If you want to lay the groundwork for speed development, start in the weight room. Once you have built a solid foundation of functional strength and power with exercises like squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and plyometrics, then it’s time to break out the cones, hurdles, and ladders, and hit the track or turf for your field work.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!