9 Common Speed Training Mistakes | Joe Defranco Podcast #47 Summary

1. Do Not Over Coach Speed

You can obviously over coach in any area of fitness but this is especially prevalent in speed training. You can actually make an athlete slower over coaching causing the the athlete over think.

As a coach we need to choose our coaching cues wisely. We don’t want to be yelling 10 cues at once when an athlete is trying to perform a 100m sprint.

Take the 1-2 things that need the most work and work on one flaw at a time.

Every athletes going to be a little different. Louis Simmons talks about this in regards to power lifting where he’ll have his own specific coaching methods for teaching lifts, like a squat – he’ll help fix your technique but he won’t change your style. What this means is that it’s not just a one size fits all technique because we need to account for the individual. One guy may have longer legs so he needs to take a little bit longer stance depending on their genetics.

You really need to know the difference between, ‘is it just bad form and we need to make a change’ or ‘is it just the athletes genetics and manorisms that we need to leave alone.’

A great coaching method is to record the athlete,  watch the video in slow motion and address the one main cue you want to work on. Address it. Then move onto the next cue and the next.


2. Failure To Teach De-Acceleration

Many know how to correct running mechanics but few empasise De-Acceleration mechanics.

You would never got on a plane if you knew the pilot never had his landing licence. Yet were throwing all these athletes on the field that don’t know how to stop, pivot and change direction.

That is the highest % of knee injuries happen during non contact during stopping, cutting and jumping.

So we need to develop that eccentric strength in the weight room and then teach the De-Acceleration mechanics outside of it.

One simple technique is using a choppy stutter step to rapidly slow from a sprint into a change of direction instead of stopping on a dime and jarring your joints putting hundreds of pounds of force through those knee, ankle and hip joints.


3. Turning Your Speed Workout Into A Conditioning Workout

It is a huge mistake made by so many. Speed and conditioning are not interchangeable. When you are training for speed there has to be adequate rest that gives full recovery in between sprints if you want to improve their maximal outputs. You can’t train maximally with inadequate recovery.

You should never throw up during a speed focused session. Yet we’ve seen this time and time again.

If you’re training a team sport athlete and training sprints you shouldn’t be blowing your athlete up with lactic acid.

If you want to get physically faster the training must be maintained with high quality maximal outputs. That’s how you develop their speed.


4. Too Many Fancy Drills & Equipment  – Work On The Foundation

Coaches want to look good when they train. They want to impress. This is to the detriment to the athlete if they haven’t built a strong solid strength foundation with basic movements.
Skip the 20min on wall drives and perfecting bskips and focus on teaching proper mechanics.

Ladder drills, resistance bands, bungee cords and parachutes…all look bad ass. But you don’t need equipment like this to get an athlete fast. Yes it has its place when after you’ve built a foundation of mobility and speed and need some variability.

Your body weight and a good coach is all you need.


5. Not Enough Emphasis Placed On Getting Stronger

If a powerlifter wanted to turn into a sprinter they would not need much strength work at all. The volume and intensity would be brought way down to maintenance levels as we focus on improving their rate of force development. Because we know they can produce a lot of force but we’d work on producing that force quickly using sprints and plyometrics.

There’s many factors that determine how fast an athlete is but the predominant factor is the ability to generate and transmit muscular force into the ground.

If you do not have any strength you have no force production into the ground and you will have no speed.

Sprints will drive up your weights in the weight room. Sprinting alone will get you stronger. On the other hand improving strength won’t necessarily correlate in the same way to make you faster. But that usually applies to advanced experienced athletes.

For the large major of a athletes you receive they will fall in the beginner – intermediate stage.

“I can tell you for certainty that when you are weak and slow sprinting alone will not drive up weights in the weight room”

Many trainers think to not overemphasis strength thinking sprinting drives up the weights. But the athletes your training right now aren’t fast enough. Their not producing enough force into the ground to drive up his weights. So they will continue to be weak in turn and in turn continue being slow.

Strength should be the foundation for speed for the majority.

Don’t get it twisted though you do need to still sprint, run and jump. But the focus on rate of force development should be the majority of the work and sprinting as supplemental training until the athlete is strong enough.


6. Inappropriate Warmup

One mistake is making too long and taxing that take away from the training. On the other hand making it too short can be detrimental to athlete preparedness.

Main thing is to make the warm up specific to the training for the day. (Click here to see an example warm up template that could be applied)

But one example is ending the warm up by performing a power skip where your emphasising arm action and knee drive. Maybe you want to rehearse some sprint mechanics by doing some 10 metre sprints. Or some broad jumps to help with that explosive start. Or if you having a change of direction/agility day your warm up should reflect this having your athlete  moving laterally. Not just liner. Throw in some crab walks, side shuffles, hip fire hydrant circles to make them work literally.


 7. Sprinting Too Much

Often we’ll lean towards what type of training we like the most.

Understand how much stress sprinting puts on the body. It’s a very high CNS activity that can take days to a week to fully recover. The fastest athletes often don’t sprint as often because their force production is so much higher than the average athlete. Thus it takes them that much longer to recover.


8. Not Sprinting Enough

There’s two types of coaches. That’s why we have point 7/8 back to back. To cater to both types of coaches and their natural tendencies.

If you have no space to sprint when you train your athletes do what you have to do but if you can incorporate some short sprints intermittently throughout the year. That is better than not running at all while working on strength.


9. Overspeed Training Is Not Appropriate For The Majority

If you don’t know what Overspeed training looks like don’t worry.

Point is any form of over speed training is overrated and detrimental for speed for 99% of athletes.

Most are doing it with athletes that aren’t prepared. Most of the time the athlete is being pulled too fast so instead of picking up speed getting faster they end up over striding creating a ‘breaking force’ with each and every step which actually slowly you down instead of speeding up.

Additionally, it can be a very high risk to injury and pulling a hamstring.