Life is full of timeless debates….
Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
Peanut butter and jelly? Or Jelly with peanut butter?
Is Pizza a pie? Obviously it is, so is quiche a pie? Crusts…fillings….now I’m making you think!
Did Dez Bryant catch the ball? Now I’m just being a bitter Cowboys’ fan!
But one that haunts every Strength Coach, can you teach speed in a weight room?
Yes, yes you can and here are three ways to do it!
Global movements can be taught anywhere and reinforced anywhere.
Basic movement patterns need constant reinforcement regardless of ability or level of competition. Your fastest athletes can probably skip the best and your strongest athletes can probably crawl the length of a football field.
When you’re in the weight room include marching, skipping, and crawling variations to give your athletes as much exposure to these global movements as possible.
A great sample warm up in a tight weight room area could be the following…keep in mind this is something that an athlete can do in a 3’x3’ area…if you have space, definitely expand on this!
Bodyweight Squats x 10
Jumping Jacks x 10
Stationary March x 10
March with Overhead Reach x 10 Steps
Stationary Lunge with Knee Drive x 10 Steps
Stationary Skipping x 10 seconds
Bear Crawl with Reach x 5 per side
Deadbug x 5 per side
Glute Bridges x 10
Single-leg Glute Bridges x 5 per side
Tension. Tension. Tension.
In the case of the weight room, highlighting HOW an athlete uses tension to create stability around a joint structure is massive for their athletic development. I like to use the analogy of a handshake. You can relax your hand fully or you can think about ripping the other person’s arm right off their shoulder. The spectrum of tension is related to the situation…right? Athletes need to learn to understand their situations and how their levels of tension play a part. Deceleration versus maximum effort, versus submaximal efforts for longer efforts…lots of different scenarios and the weight room can be used to reinforce these points.
Take advantage of a ‘slower’ weight room.
Something I always make clear with athletes in the weight room is that it is an environment that rewards mistakes. What I mean by this is that in the field of play or in sport, when an athlete makes a mistake it is normally followed by negative repercussion. An opponent scores a goal, the coach gets upset, an athlete could be benched or cut from the program…bad stuff. In the weightroom life is a lot slower. You just read my point about tension. If an athlete is working on the lighter side of tension, it gives the coach a better chance to reinforce and coach up positions and movement patterns (similar to point number 1 in this article).
In the above video we had an athlete working on improving ankle extension. It looks like a lot of movement occurring but the main points were to teach the athlete how to create HIGH levels of tension (by pressing the band overhead) and explode through the ground in to better ankle extension. This drill helped do that and was also superset with a horizontal pull in the weight room. Did we get stronger, yep. Did we teach the athlete something about speed, yep. Did we improve on a global movement pattern (marching), yep. This was a win for everyone and something that was easy to correct and explore in a ‘slower’ weight room setting.
About the Author
Casey Lee is the Program Director of the Parisi Speed School located in Williston, Vermont. During his 8+ years with the Parisi program, he has had the pleasure of coaching thousands of athletes ranging from youth, collegiate and Olympic levels. He’s found that all have benefitted from a simpler approach to training and coaching. He would tell you to keep it simple, master the basics, and have fun!
If you want to learn more about Casey check out www.CoachCaseyLee.com, @CoachCaseyLee on Instagram, or search his podcast called the “3 Things” available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and SoundCloud!