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Get Ahead of the Competition: The Essential Role of Speed Training in Youth Sports

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Get Ahead of the Competition: The Essential Role of Speed Training in Youth Sports

As a parent of a young athlete, its important to understand the key factors that can help your child perform at their best. One such factor is speed, which is arguably the most important athletic quality in any sport. Fast athletes tend to jump the highest, hit the hardest, redirect and make game changing plays more often than their slower counterparts. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of speed training during your child's sport season, and why it's essential to incorporate it into their training routine.

Speed Kills

Speed is a critical athletic quality that can make a significant difference in your child's performance in any sport. Whether it's soccer, basketball ,football, or any other team sport having speed can be the difference between making a play or missing an opportunity. When looking at speed in metres per second, the difference between 9 metres and 10 metres a second is very significant. Each second your child is going to be able to pull metres away from their opponent and get to their spot first.

Incorporating speed training into your child's training regimen can help them develop faster reflexes, better body control, and the ability to change direction quickly. These skills can translate to a significant advantage on the playing field, helping your child perform at their best and stand out from the competition.

One Pure Speed Session A week

To achieve maximum results, it's important to incorporate at least one top-end speed session into your child's training each week. This session should be focused on high-intensity sprinting and running drills that challenge your child's speed and agility.

You rarely ever hit your true top speed during raining or games due to the erratic nature of sport and the limited time to continue accelerating in a straight line. So it's important that you are hitting at least 95% of your top speed once a week. For field athletes like AFL, soccer, and hockey aim for 2 reps of around 60m to get to top speed and for court athletes like tennis and basketball, 4 reps of 40m would be more specific.

During this session, your child should focus on explosive movements, quick acceleration, and short bursts of maximal effort. This can include exercises such as hill sprints, plyometrics, and resistance band drills. These exercises can help your child develop the necessary skills to improve their speed and agility, leading to better performance on the field.

In addition to the top-end speed session, it's also important to include other forms of speed training in your child's routine, such as interval training and tempo runs. This will help to build endurance, increase overall fitness levels, and improve your child's ability to sustain high-intensity efforts throughout a game.

How Does Sprinting Prevent Injuries?

One of the most important reasons to incorporate speed training into your child's routine is to help prevent common injuries in team sports. Many injuries, such as sprains and strains occur due to inadequate preparation and conditioning. 

By incorporating speed training into your child's routine, you can help them develop the strength and endurance needed to withstand the demands of their sport. This can include exercises that strengthen the muscles and joints that are most prone to injury, such as the knees, ankles and hips.

Speed training can also improve your child's flexibility and range of motion, reducing the risk of muscle tears and other soft tissue injuries. Additionally, speed training can help improve your child's reaction time and coordination, which can help them avoid collisions and other types of accidents on the playing field.

At Inner Athlete we have incorporated a designated speed session at the athletics track once a week for the past 6 months with some of our team sport athletes. We've found this to be extremely effective at improving their top end speed, speed endurance as well as repeat sprint ability. All of which are very important athletic qualities to have. Over this period, we've tracked their 50, 60 and 100m times as well as their 10 and 20m sprints. All these measures have improved through specific sprint technique corrections and consistent training.

Speed training is a critical component of any athlete's training routine, particularly for young athletes who are still developing their physical abilities. By incorporating top-end speed sessions and other forms of speed training into your child's routine, you can help them improve their speed, agility, endurance, and overall athletic performance.

Speed training can also help prevent common injuries in team sports, ensuring that your child can play their best without the risk of getting hurt. So, as a parent, be sure to prioritise speed training in your child's training regimen and watch them grow into stronger, faster and more capable athletes.

For more information on strength and conditioning for youth athletes and increasing your sports performance, check out our website and podcast (available on Spotify and YouTube!).

Matt Hucul
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Inner Athlete - Bayside's premium strength and conditioning coaching for youth athletes

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