Speed is a measure of distance covered in time. All players, regardless of position, will be required to try and run as fast as they can over a certain distance (Jeffs 2014). During a game, there are many different occasions when players will require speed e.g. chase a ball/player, break a defensive line or run for a try.
Speed as an overall term can be further subdivided into acceleration and maximal speed phases. All players need the ability to accelerate effectively and on occasion players may be asked to sprint large distances getting up to maximal speed.
In sport, speed is stride length multiplied by stride frequency (how much ground is covered per stride multiplied by how often the athlete can stride within a period of time). If an athlete can cover more ground per stride they will be faster and if an athlete can stride more often in a period of time without sacrificing stride length they will be faster (Fletcher, 2009; Jeffs, 2014). Therefore, when training to improve speed our training should be targeting improving stride length or stride frequency (Fletcher, 2009).
Training methods to improve speed can include:
- Technique training
- Plyometric training
- Resisted sprint training
- Assisted sprint training
- Functional strength and power (Jeffs, 2014)
Technique training and plyometric training will be covered in detail in this module while resisted and assisted sprint training will be covered in detail in the Conditioning for Adults online learning module. Functional strength and power training will be mentioned in this module but covered in more detail in the Conditioning for Adults online learning module.