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5 ‘Speed Training’ Mistakes You Need to Change to Get Faster — Human Performance Blog · Volt Athletics

In addition to equipment, it’s important to consider all environmental variables present while timing. For example, wind, altitude, temperature, humidity, clothing, running surface, slope, and shoe stiffness can all affect sprinting performance.

You likely won’t be able to control whether it rained the night before or if there’s been a 45-day drought, but you should know that mud or soft grass will likely result in slower times than hard turf or a rubber track. If you are using timing gates, you’ll want to make sure that they are set up at the same height each session. If you are using a camera, you’ll want to keep the camera distance and angles consistent as well.

In other words, an athlete does not have the requisite strength to sprint fast. There’s no rule that says you need to squat 3x your bodyweight or hang clean 225 lb to run fast. But, there are two questions to consider when it comes to strength and sprinting.

First, is the athlete strong enough to display sound running technique? The answer is probably “no” if any of the following behaviors are observed while sprinting: 

  • The athlete is incapable of producing any air time (at least one foot is always in contact with the ground)

  • The athlete is incapable of sprinting in a straight line

  • The athlete is incapable of maintaining a forward-leaning torso posture during acceleration

Second, will further strength gains improve power output? Once the initial checkpoint is taken care of, further strength development allows for a greater total capacity for producing force.  Generally speaking (I’ll expand more in Error #3), the more total force you can produce, the greater your potential is for developing speed.

The angle at which an athlete needs to direct force into the ground will change based on the type of running that the athlete is doing. From the point an athlete starts sprinting to the point at which they hit their maximal velocity, the athlete is in the Acceleration phase of sprinting. Early acceleration requires an acute or horizontal force vector in order to push the body forward. The more horizontal force an athlete can express, the greater their acceleration capabilities. As the athlete gains speed and momentum, force vectors become more vertical. Most team sport athletes spend significantly more time in the Acceleration phase during practice and competition – yet, most lower body strength and power training done in the weight room is done vertically (think squats, deadlifts, and cleans).

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