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Mastering Speed Training for Older Athletes

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It was June 9, 2018. I was preparing to run in the local Senior Olympics. I had entered the 50-meter and 100-meter dashes. I had been a sprinter in high school and some in college, but that was many years ago.

You must be 50 years old to compete in the senior Olympics. I was 51 then and one of the youngest competitors that day. There were athletes 50 – 85 years old, which was very inspiring seeing the older athletes. 

Speed training can benefit athletes of any age and in all field and court sports. For the older athletes who still like to compete or train like an athlete, here are some things that can help keep you at your best. 

Speed training involves increasing muscle power through speed, technical guidance, and increased range of motion. Speed is essential in sports because it is a decisive factor. In most cases, the team or athlete that plays the fastest is more than not going to be the winner. Speed training focuses on acceleration, strength, and track training. 

Acceleration plays a crucial role in speed performance in sports. How fast an athlete can go from being at rest to top speed is essential for athletes in all field sports.

These technical movements are key when accelerating:

  • Proper body positioning: Forward lean, head in line with the spine.
  • Arm action: Driving the arms controlled, elbows at 90 degrees with movement through the shoulders.
  • Foot placement: Striking the ground with force on the ball of the foot under the hips.

Power Movements such as sled pushes and drags build leg strength and power in the acceleration phase. Hill sprints develop explosive strength and acceleration mechanics. 

Strength training can increase an athlete’s muscle endurance and help prevent injuries. Some of the exercises I use in my training are squats, deadlifts, and lunges, which are great for speed and power. Olympic lifts like clean, jerk, and snatch enhance explosive power and full-body coordination. To improve muscular power and speed, I like doing plyometrics like box jumps and bounding.

Getting out on the field and training is crucial for speed development. You can put in all the work in the weight room, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t do fieldwork. Running drills like high knees, butt kicks, and A-skips help to improve form and efficiency. Drills like kneeling starts help with explosive starts. Also, interval training, such as short bursts of high intensity running followed by rest periods, will help speed endurance.

Mastering the technical aspects of running and strength training is essential for practical speed training and injury prevention. Building muscular strength and power is vital for improving acceleration and overall speed. Consistency of practice and gradually increasing the intensity of workouts are necessary for continuous improvement in speed. Athletes of any age and any level of competition can practice these techniques and drills. 

Photo by Capstone Events on Unsplash

About the Author

Vince Workman has over 20 years of experience in the Fitness industry and is certified through The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). After an 8-year NFL career, Vince was a scout and strength coach for the Green Bay Packers for six years. He then moved into the private sector where he developed a passion for helping young athletes and adults reach their goals in competitive sports as well as health and fitness. Vince currently runs the Speed Agility Quickness program at Peak Human Performance. He aims to teach athletes the proper way to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction most efficiently to maximize their performance on the field or court. Follow Vince: @pook46

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