Strength and speed development start in the weight room. Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.
But you can’t do it all in the weight room. What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance. Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.
Speed and Agility Training
Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:
- Technique — running form and mechanics
- Assisted and resisted sprinting
- Strength and power training, including plyometrics
Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.
Sport-Specific Skill Development
Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills. Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete. Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective. Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).
Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery. Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally. Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time. You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.
Rest and Recovery
When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better. The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can). Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process. Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level. Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.
In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind. Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment. Be a smart athlete — a student of the game. Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator. Expect success and prepare accordingly.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!