Speed & Agility Training Zone!

The Evolution of Athlete Performance Training

By: Bill Parisi – Founder Parisi Speed School

The training of the "athlete," today is surrounded by fallacies and myths that are not the best ways to enhance performance. My goal in this article is to layout the foundational truths of what it takes to become a faster athlete. For this to occur, the coach is going to have to have an open mind, self-discipline, and a pursuit of excellence. The open mind is to allow for a paradigm shift in thinking. The self-discipline is needed to break from old habits and the pursuit of excellence is to reach your ultimate potential. That is our only real goal.

My first question is to the skeptics who feel they know all there is to know about training. What is the difference between evolution and revolution? Ask yourself this question and form a good answer in your head before you continue further. Evolution can be defined as the slow, gradual change that occurs following the drastic, explosive revolution. The revolution is what is met with the resistance. Our country's growth is a great example of this. In the few years leading up to 1776, a revolution began and continued until America claimed its total independence from Great Britain. From that time on, our country began an evolution of development until another revolution took place…the Civil War in 1861. When the war ended in May of 1865, our great country began an evolution towards equality. Revolutions continue to occur in our country and in different areas of our lives. In this article I will be describing the revolution/evolution of training. The revolution/evolution can also be referred to as a paradigm shift. During this time, our whole way of thinking changes and our approach towards goals take on new direction.   

Just as little as thirty years ago, most sport coaches thought weight training would bulk you up and slow you down. Many professional athletes were afraid to lift weights. Today, weight training is a vital role in an athlete's overall development. A revolution took place in athletics in the 1970's and from that time on, an evolution of strength training has taken place, which has even proliferated to the general public.

In the past 15 years, another training revolution has taken place. This time it is in the area of an athlete's speed development. Up until the early 90's, many coaches did not believe that "speed" could be improved. Now almost all coaches and athletes realize that speed, like strength, can be improved with training. The fallacies and myths of speed training methods have warranted me to believe that yet another revolution is upon us in the athletic community.

The first part of this revolution is going to focus on the athletes' foundation. Everything in life must pass through different ordered stages of growth and development. For instance, an infant must first learn to sit, then crawl, then stand, and then walk before he can ever run. Each one of these stages is crucial to the next and each one needs the proper amount of time to occur. No stage can ever be passed over for the next without proper development. There can be no shortcuts here and it all starts by building up that foundation.

The same holds true for an athlete's speed development. When we talk about speed enhancement there are three primary focal points that need to be addressed. First, the athlete needs to strengthen the proper muscle groups to run faster. Strength is a function and foundation of speed. An understanding of how to get the proper muscle groups stronger for speed is the first step to getting faster. These muscle groups include the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, abdominals, hip-flexors and upper back.

Next, these muscles need to be flexible. Flexibility is often an overlooked segment of training and where most athletes do not give much attention. Most important here are the hip-flexors. The misnomer is that tight hamstrings often can lead to the injury of this delicate muscle. The truth is, tight hip-flexors can lead to a decreased range of motion at the hip, which can hinder speed and increase your chance of "hamstring pulls."

The scope of this article cannot possibly cover the biomechanics of the hip and why this is true, but believe me, it is. So be sure to stretch after workouts, especially your hip-flexors.

Lastly, technique is the final component to speed development. I break speed technique down into three phases: acceleration, change of direction, and maximum speed. Each phase has a different technique. In previous articles I described these techniques. When an athlete improves his or her speed specific strength, he or she becomes flexible with these muscles and are able to refine their movement technique. So the goal for the coach is the understanding of the evolutionary science of performance enhancement that leads to revolutionary game speed.    

For more information about Bill Parisi and the Parisi Speed School, check out www.parisischool.com.

(February 2016)