NASM PES Chapter 9: Speed, Agility, And Quickness Training 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Be able to describe the techniques we use for speed, agility, and quickness and the purpose they have in performance enhancement and the prevention of injuries. 
  • Describe the role of this speed, agility, and quickness training and the improvement of performance in sports. 
  • Find the attributes of a progressive SAQ program for the athletes within any level of training.
  • Know the various exercises we commonly see for SAQ training.

Introduction

Speed, quickness, and agility are going to be the most significant and visible components we have when it comes to success athletically. 

An improvement to this equation to athletic success is the inclusion of reaction time, applying some significant force in the right direction, and redirecting the force if needed for your ultimate goal. 

A program that is carefully made and addresses the factors of athleticism will definitely improve overall performance and reduce an athlete’s risk of injury.

SAQ skills will involve a combo of rapid force production and learned motor skills, so that is what this chapter will focus on.

Training for Speed of Movement

In the context of athletics, speed is defined as the rate of performance for an activity. 

The velocity to which someone executes a move will be the difference between success and failure and between performance at the elite level and sub elite levels. 

When the force demands of activity increase, we see the movement’s output velocity decrease. This is shown in what is known as the force velocity curve.

The following are going to be essential components of well made programs for improving speed:

  • Stability, strength, and power
  • The elasticity of the muscles and joints
  • Joint mobility and flexibility
  • Technique of movement
  • Specialized drills

Stability, Strength, and Power

These things will increase the ability of the athlete to produce higher levels of force at a higher speed. 

Stability training is used more for developing the right balance of things, and strength training is known for creating the body’s ability to produce force. Then power training aids in decreasing the time needed for the force, and all of these will contribute to improving speed.

Many studies have shown that strength and power increases from regular resistance training and plyometrics will improve speed, agility, and quickness. 

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For younger or older athletes who may lack the strength, producing the force needed may be the limiting factor. 

As your strength levels go up, the next probable limiting factor will be the rate of force development. 

Repetitive SAQ drills will have very little effect on strength and power performance and will fail to address limitations under the main things. So, there is a basic need for strength and power to be sufficient. 

Muscle and Joint Elasticity

The ballistic movements we find in the SAQ training will be made by quick lengthening of a muscle and then shortening, which will create an effect for energy release with the elasticity. 

Again, this is the use of the stretch shortening cycle we discussed thoroughly in the other chapters. But, it is also important in this chapter. These are somewhat more advanced skills than the plyometric style exercise in the previous chapter, so something somewhat of a progression will be relevant.

Power training and plyometrics will improve the explosive force that is also needed for these skills of speed, agility, and quickness.

Joint Mobility and Flexibility

Joint mobility is basically the joint being able to go through the entire range of motion without problems. It is further characterized as the balance of strength and flexibility regulating the movements that contrast motions around the joint. 

The muscle integrity and ability to relax and contract to the right levels when moving will be the limiting factor for proper joint mobility. 

Movement Technique

The proper movement technique when doing speed, agility, and quickness drills will allow the body and the limbs to achieve better positions for the optimal production of force, thereby increasing the speed of movement. 

Movement efficiency becomes a more important differentiator between performance levels, with higher performance levels characterized by little wasted movement and optimal coordination.

Specialized Drills

When force is a limiting factor for speed, agility, and quickness, we see general power and strength training enhancing performance by altering the curve of force velocity to a sufficient level.

It is unclear as to exactly what sufficient strength is needed for max strength and power, but we must master the basic movements and make a solid foundation in the realm of strength and power. This is really true in the earlier stages of athletic development. 

Specialized drills must be implemented following the early phases of building the base of strength and power. 

These drills will be used to reinforce the right patterns of movement for the neuromuscular system.

Over-Speed or Assisted drills will be common for adding neuromuscular load to the drills of movement by using the concepts of resisted speed and assisted speed. These will usually involve running surfaces or an apparatus that changes the acceleration of the athlete’s movement. 

Resisted Speed Drills will be those drills that involve the athlete moving against some increased horizontal or vertical load. This will aid in improving the force production during the drive phase of the running stride, aiding in improving the stride length. This is very useful when looking at increasing the speed of movement. Things such as weight vests, sled pushing, uphill running, and partner resistance will be useful here. The lighter the load, the better. These will still allow for maximal skill carryover since the technique, joint velocities, and other similar factors will remain relatively unchanged. 

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Developing Linear Speed, Agility, Multidirectional Speed, and Quickness

Linear Speed

Sports have a lot of multidirectional movement needs, but linear speed will still establish a solid baseline for general and efficient movement techniques. 

Linear speed is defined as the ability of the body to move in one intended direction as fast as you possibly can. 

This linear speed is calculated as the product of stride rate and stride length.

Stride rate is the amount of time you need to complete the cycle of one stride, and the factor of stride length also limits it. 

Stride length is simply the distance that someone would cover with one of their strides, and we improve it by changing the level of force that we apply to the ground. 

Much research has come together to determine that the optimal length of a stride will be 2.3 – 2.5 times the length of an athlete’s leg. 

An improvement to either of these variables will greatly change the linear speed. 

Linear speed Technique

We will have some important phases in linear speed that allow us to have optimal technique. 

Nailing down these phases will establish a foundation for us and allow for the most efficient athletic movement. 

The three phases that we will have will be the drive phase, the recovery phase, and the support phase. 

The drive phase is first and it is the point in the stride where the foot is the first to come into contact with the ground. 

The recovery phase is second and it is where the leg swings from the hip while the foot clears the ground. 

The third and final phase is known as the support phase, where the runner’s weight is carried by the entire foot. 

It is very important to go through the table in the book that goes over the proper linear sprint mechanics and breaks this down based on each body part and what it should do while going through the sprinting motion. Ensure to note the problems, causes of the potential problems, and the drills we can use to improve these. 

Agility and Multidirectional Speed

The ability to adapt and redirect the person’s speed to the appropriate level and the needs of the sport will be essential for success in athletics. 

Our ability to change direction and our body’s orientation is based upon quick processing of the many internal and external variables and information, and for us to be able to do this quickly will be termed agility.

Multidirectional speed will allow the athlete to create speed in any direction or body orientation. 

The development of these two vital concepts will closely resemble the actual sporting event. It may be the most effective way for us to address the neuromuscular demands for sport related skills. 

The main improvement will be the improvement of total body control and awareness. 

The key components we have found in agility training will be:

  • Body control and awareness
  • Reaction and Recognition
  • Starting and the first step
  • Acceleration
  • Footwork
  • Changes of direction
  • Stopping

These all involve motor skills, and thus we will be able to train them.

We break down the progressions of agility and multidirectional speed into beginner, intermediate, and advanced. 

Beginners are noted as developing proper movement skills

Intermediate is noted for developing the speed of movement

And advanced are noted for developing the reaction based speed of movement

Quickness

The ability for us to execute a skill of movement in a brief amount of time will be part of the athleticism that we call quickness.

This quickness addresses the quality and the magnitude of the athlete’s perceptive and reactive abilities and it may be one of the more significant parts of success in sports. 

Quickness training will involve a lot of training based on decreasing the reaction time. 

Reaction time is when someone recognizes the need for action, acts on it, and starts the next move. 

Drills for Speed, Agility/MDS, and Quickness

We have a base set of drills to address all of these factors of athleticism, and it is important to go through and look at how these moves look and are implemented with the athletes.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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