The importance of strength and power to training for quickness is often underrated.
There is no speed or quickness without a strong, powerful motor. You cannot improve strength and, subsequently, power without resistance training.
Resistance training is a big complement to speed and agility training. Athletes need to be able to balance both good technique with the engine behind it.
The specific benefits of resistance training are increased:
- Deceleration- both lateral and linear
- Trail leg extension- to sprint fast
- Lateral push- to get out of lateral decel
There are two parts to being quick- slowing down and accelerating. If it takes an athlete too long to slow down they will not be as quick as if they were able to throw the brakes on quickly.
The best way to improve the ability to slow down is with strength. Specifically, eccentric strength will be really important. When we decelerate, the muscles undergo a lengthening with a lot of force placed upon it. This is the definition on eccentric movement.
Taking off is more concentric strength. Most athletes are dominant in this pattern. It is then important to generally improve their ability to produce force. Strength is the ability to produce force and power is the ability to do it quickly.
The following four exercises help with quickness.
I really like the lateral lunge for the benefits it provides for lateral deceleration. The lateral lunge has two real benefits. When we step to the side the leg has to decelerate the the body. This provides eccentric strength in the frontal plane, a huge need for most athletes.
The second part of the movement is the push back to the starting position. The athlete must have the strength to push into the ground and get back to where they started. This is similar to getting out of a lateral decel.
This exercise will directly transfer to a lateral decel speed drill. The pro agility and other reaction type drills will reinforce the strength gained in this one.
The Russian box has the same benefits as the lateral lunge but we do them with more speed. This will help bridge the gap from strength to agility. It is really important to push as hard as possible laterally and land it in a good hip hinge position.
Reverse Lunge to Balance
The reverse lunge balance is an interesting combination. I like it for anyone that needs more lower body strength and stability.
It also teaches an athlete how to push through the ground and into full leg extension. Be sure to stand all the way up on finishing this exercise.
This will transfer well to a good push on linear speed. When you need to take off running it is helpful to have the strength to push into the ground and get the opposite leg fully extended. This is precisely what happens when we go to sprint.
GHR Leg Curl
The GHR leg curl is one of my favorite hamstring exercises.
The hamstrings play a huge role in linear deceleration. This exercise is designed to give them the best chance of absorbing force because it has a large eccentric component. Remember that eccentric strength is really important in slowing down and this exercise is great at developing this strength.