Youth Speed Coach
As a track athlete, I competed from elementary school thru my mid 30s. In college I was All-Conference three years as a sprinter at my D3/NAIA school, Tri-State University (now Trine). Not too long after college, when I began coaching, I realized pretty quickly that coaching track was a different animal. That realization and the fact that one of my youth athletes was an especially talented kid, drove me to begin pursuing a higher level of coaching. I began attending camps, clinics, seminars, coaching classes, developing a library of books, periodicals, tapes, etc..., along with continuing to compete. (stopped competing in my mid 30s) FYI - the special kid was Tanya Hughes, who I later also had the pleasure of helping coach at the high school level, where she was a 3 time High School All-American. In high school, Tanya made the Junior National team 3 years, and got to compete with and against the best 19 and under athletes in the world. The National team had coaches, but the personal coaches, like myself would write up the workouts, and attend the competitions if we could get there. The experiences I got being around multiple Junior Nationals, and Junior Worlds competitions have proved to be valuable, and sort of spring boarded me toward desiring an even deeper understanding of coaching. My primary focus has been on the sprints. Check out this Developing Speed in Young Athletes blog and the links attached to it to familiarize yourself with my views and approach. FYI - Tanya went on to set an NCAA High Jump record, won NCAAs multiple times, won the Olympic Trials, and was a finalist in the high jump in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. I recently was able to be part of her induction into the Penn Relays Wall of Fame because of a Penn relays high school record that she set that still stands. FYI - Tanya has on heels in the picture and I don't, LOL.
My specialty is helping athletes toward their potential in speed and explosiveness. This includes leaping ability! As an athlete, my first love was actually basketball. I played up through high school, and after college I played competitively into my mid 30s. I've coached at the youth and high school levels. When I train basketball players, a major emphasis is to first assess them for susceptibility to knee injury. Non-contact ACL tears is a concern for athletes in sports that feature jumping, pivoting, and cutting, and this is especially prevalent in female athletes in these sports. (See Blog) I believe it is a mistake to strictly focus on performance training prior to considering whether or not the athlete's movement habits, and state of joint stability and range of motion may be leading them to injury. There is an overlap though, because having the athlete explosively move from a sufficiently bent position and properly decelerate is an important part of knee care training. When I am satisfied that the athlete is on the right track in regard to knee care, then the focus shifts to helping the athlete realize speed and explosiveness potential on the basketball court. My Improving Speed and Changes of Direction video describes much of my approach.
Below reflects how I go about things, and I also refer you to some links that may give you helpful information. I am not saying to parents, coaches, athletes, etc..., that I'm recommending that you do what is described below. By performing any of the exercises, workouts, and drills described below or anywhere on this website, you are performing them at your own risk. I will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of trying to emulate what I have described or made available for you to consider.
I have relocated to Lexington, South Carolina. I am coaching track at the middle/high school where I teach. I am available for free clinics within a reasonable distance to help youths improve running speed. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to meet me on weekends at the University of South Carolina track in Columbia for free workouts. Prior to the first workout the guardians, or athletes, if they are of age, must sign this informed consent waiver that acknowledges the risks of training, and absolves me of all liability in the event of injury. The signed waiver may be scanned and emailed to me at email@example.com or bring it signed to the workout. Athletes that have a warmup and stretching routine that they believe is adequate for a speed training workout, then that is fine, but I may add drills and/or exercises as I see necessary.
Sprinting full speed carries with it the risk of injury, especially if the athlete is not in shape, and once again, before the training activities I need to see in writing that I am released from any liability for any injuries to the participants. The Informed Consent Waiver must be signed by a guardian and may be presented to me when we meet.
Everything described below is what I'm in the process of organizing to make as efficient as possible. Revisit this page often to see when these services are up and running!
I am willing to conduct virtual workouts and/or give feedback after watching film of an athlete sprinting if I believe that I can provide helpful input, other than "keep doing what you are doing". For that reason, I am willing to quickly look at film for free and offer my opinion as to whether I can be of help or not. Examples of how I analyze sprinting technique can be seen in the pictures below.
I am just beginning this "film review" endeavor, so revisit this page in case I have to offer specific details as to how to improve the process of sending me film and getting a response from me.
As for now, my suggestion is to send me film on athletes that have been sufficiently trained under the supervision of a qualified trainer or coach to be able to safely sprint 60-80 meters at full speed. Before filming, the athlete should have been sufficiently warmed up to be able to be filmed sprinting 60-80 meters at about 95% intensity. I also suggest that the athlete maintain concentration while slowing down gradually after crossing the finish line. Athletes are often injured when they turn off the concentration after crossing the finish line.
I'd like to be sent two, three, or four videos. One video should have the athlete sprinting far enough to be able to be filmed while upright and at about 95% intensity for about 10 meters. My suggestion is for the person filming to stand at the side at about the 45-50 meter mark and be sure to film the athlete 10-15 meters from that point. Tell the athlete the finish line is 5 meters or so beyond that 10-15 meter mark. Not necessary to film from the start. Using a phone is easiest in my opinion. The person filming should be to the side as seen below.
For the second video tell the athlete to think in terms of sprinting 30 meters or so, but you'll be only filming the first 15 meters. A third video can be with the person filming beyond the 15 meter finish line and a little to the side of the path the athlete is traveling. This view should show the front of the athlete's body. If there is a fourth video it should be with the person filming standing directly behind the athlete with the athlete sprinting about 30 meters.
You may send the videos and/or contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll get back to you say whether or not I believe I can help. For me to be most helpful I'll need to be sent videos as previously described. I will watch the videos at full speed, and when needed, I'll examine the different stages of the strides as pictured below. If I feel that I can offer helpful guidance, if I'm sent videos in the way I've asked, then when applicable, I should be able to respond with some sort of picture evidence similar to what is shown below to support my feedback. There are times, however; that my opinion may be that the athlete's strides are not fast enough. I won't be able to verify this with pictures, but I'll still have suggestions. Sometimes this may occur when the athlete is overstriding and/or trying too hard to focus on lifting the knees. The cost for this service will be $75.00.
As for virtual sessions, I believe they will be most beneficial if done with a training partner and if the runs are filmed and sent to me afterward. Virtual sessions are for individuals that are capable of being sufficiently warmed up prior to me tuning in, so that I can observe certain competitive sprint runs over the course of no more than 30 minutes. This includes time to properly recover. The virtual sessions are $100.00 for two athletes and $135.00 for three athletes. This cost includes my evaluation I'll send after reviewing the film. If I won't be receiving the filmed workout the cost is $90.00 for two athletes and $120.00 for three athletes.
My Speed Training Philosophy
First priorities are base building activities. I do not want to be brought "out of shape" athletes and be asked to make them faster in a few sessions. I'm from the school of, "in order to be fast you've got to run fast" (in training at least 95% intensity at times), and to practice running fast repeatedly, requires some reasonable level of fitness to avoid injury. This blog does a good job of describing my general physical preparation for sprinters, and it alludes to what I consider to be age appropriate strength training.
Strength and core exercises are important base building elements. I like to use body weight stuff, and this includes using hills. I think it is important to assess the athlete’s performance when doing “knee bend” and “squatting” movements, looking for instability at the knees. This is especially prevalent in females. See my Knee Care page.
There are individual aspects to consider when prescribing strength and stretching exercises. Although I am not an expert on assessing posture and range of motion, I do know they are important factors to consider to develop a long term safe and effective strengthening and stretching approach for each athlete. It is important to assess and look for what muscles are chronically short and tight, and which are chronically long and loose. "One size fits all" strength and stretching protocols inevitably leave some athletes more susceptible to injury than others. Paul Chek and Elliot Hulse have very good info/materials on these topics. In other words, I believe there should be individual considerations when prescribing strength and stretching exercises for athletes. Because young athletes often have pliable and forgiving bodies, we often have gotten away with the one size fits all strength and stretching approach.
There still are a lot of coaches and athletes that subscribe to the emphasis on static stretching prior to workouts and competition (holding a stretching position usually between 10-30 seconds). I suggest doing research on what types of stretching are best before workouts and competitions. An example of dynamic stretching is in this video. The key thing about dynamic stretching is to take the stretching position to the point where you feel some resistance, then wave (roll) out of the position before doing it again, trying to stretch a little more (see video).
An important part of a sprinter's warm up/stretching routine is after doing the initial; jogging, warm up activities, and stretching, is doing warm-up runs with or without some additional drills and exercises. My Speed Enhancing Warm-up Procedure blog details this. Static stretching is often done after the cool-down jogging at the end of the workout.
I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. Speed development is my primary topic of interest, and I tend to direct my writings toward "Youth Speed Development"
Coaches, feel free to contact me for questions, and to also comment on what I've written.(email@example.com) I revise my blogs from time to time, and I write on new topics occasionally.
FYI - The athlete pictured below does better on one side of his body than the other and there is a strategy in place to address that.