By: Larry Jusdanis When an athlete starts training with SST, the most common question is “Will I improve my speed?” I am honest and upfront and tell them that not everyone has the genetics to be a 100m champion. However, most athletes haven’t scratched the surface of their potential. At SST we have 4 methods to improve an athlete’s speed. If they improve one area their will be some improvement….but if they can improve them all the results are outstanding! The Four Pillars of Developing Speed include: 1. Body Composition If an athlete is carrying too much body fat, their speed will be limited. Every sport and position has their own ranges for optimal body fat. An Offensive Lineman and a Defensive Back obviously have different physiques. But the fact remains that muscle makes your body move, but fat slows you down. The way to improve this is through a clean diet and interval training. Cardio is not recommended unless you are in a long distance sport. 2. Strength & Power Your ability to initiate force into the ground is what makes you move. The first 30 yards in a sprint is directly correlated to your strength levels. The term relative strength refers to your strength levels compared to your body weight. This is the most relevant to speed because it is your ability to move your own weight. Being on a structured strength training program will go a long way to increasing your speed. Make sure that you plan your program and keep track of your weights. 3. Flexibility This is often the most overlooked aspect of training. If you ask a 16 year old football player if they work on their flexibility they usually say that they stretch before practice. This is not what we refer to when we say flexibility training. Our athletes take 10-15 minutes before workouts or speed sessions performing dynamic flexibility and mobility drills. Static stretching should be done 4-6 hours before or after your workout. You should warm up for 10 minutes, and then spend 30-45 minutes stretching. Hold your stretches for 10 seconds, and try and hit as many different angles as possible to work on different muscle fibres. You need to spend 5-6 days a week trying to improve this area. 4. Technique It is important to learn proper running fundamentals for both straight ahead speed, as well as for changing directions. If you are wasting movement you’re wasting time. So spend some time with a coach who can correct your errors. It is a waste of time to go out and practice running 40’s if your form is wrong. Remember it’s not practice makes perfect… its perfect practice makes perfect.