How to Use Successful Speed Training to Enhance Sports Performance
The Difference of Strength Training and Speed Training
Increasing speed is a common goal among athletes since more often than not foot speed is a key component to a winning athletic performance. A speed training program must meet certain criteria to effectively increase ability. However, the failing of any speed training program occurs when it’s focusing solely on liner speed.
In sports training, power is defined as the ability to summon strength quickly. A weightlifter may be strong but not be considered powerful unless he is able to apply his strength in an explosive manner.
Speed training uses a different kind of powerful concentration of muscle. Yes, your muscles are involved in the end result; however, the focus is on quickness and agility and properly using the power of your muscles to get that result. This involves building linear speed.
Linear speed is a component of these two things:
Stride length, the amount of distance covered while the forward foot is in the air
Frequency of the stride, or how quickly the stride is executed.
Of the two, increasing stride length will have the most effect on speed.
Stride length is improved not by increasing the extension of the forward leg, but by the amount of force which is applied when the rear leg is pushing off the ground. So, to improve speed one of the key components is increasing the amount of force generated during acceleration.
Results are specific to training. For example, as swinging a baseball bat is mostly an arm and shoulder exercise, performing a bench press will not help a batter to hit home runs, as the bench press focus mostly on developing the chest muscles. To increase linear speed, resistance exercises that focus on the gluteus, hamstrings and calves must be incorporated into an effective speed training program. To increase lateral speed the adductor and abductor muscles, on the inside and outside of the legs, must be strengthened.
Paying Attention to Form when Speed Training
Commonly referred to as muscle memory, procedural memory teaches the body how to perform specific motor tasks through continual and concerted repetition. In any type of training in sport practice makes perfect because the body learns to execute movements by preforming them until the movement becomes automatic.
To maximize stride length practice landing on the ball of the foot of the forward leg, with the foot landing directly under the pelvis. As the front foot hits the ground, drive backward with the foot, as the hind leg leaves the ground, until the knee is straight behind the body. The most effective way to increase stride frequency is to kick the heels toward the buttocks, which will cause the hips to rotate more quickly, causing the legs to cycle faster.
Normally, the head should be facing forward during running. The exception are ballplayers who must watch the ball while running. Sprinters should practice running with their head and eyes facing forward while ballplayers must practice running while their head is turning.
Sports training for lateral speed requires training the legs to move sideways by practicing a “grapevine” movement. Move to the right by stepping to right with the right foot and then crossing left leg behind the right foot. Repeat the movement for several steps and then reverse the exercise back to the right. Practice until able to move laterally at full speed.
And with any sports training, there are other key components to your success that go beyond the fundamentals.
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