Every sport is different. What is beneficial in one sport, may not be necessary in another. The ability to properly throw a baseball does not necessarily translate to the throw of a javelin. Although the qualities of the movement may be similar, the complete action requires a little more work when moving in between sports. However, if there is any type of work that can translate across all sports, it is the training of speed.
Speed is specific to every sport. The type of speed needed for success in baseball is not the same speed needed for soccer. Specificity in training is certainly needed, but often over-emphasized and timed incorrectly in numerous training programs. The definition of training describes how an athlete repeatedly performs an activity until adaptations are made, allowing the body to better manage the demands of the sport.
Speed in a neural activity.
Running fast is more than just pumping the arms and moving the legs as fast as you can. There is a whole team involved with the simple movement of driving the knee up and down in a manner that is efficient. Signals from the Central Nervous System (CNS) interpret the type of movement needed, and will influence the firing and recruiting of muscle patterns throughout the body. The better the signals are relayed and interpreted, the better the movement. A baby learning to walk is developing such neural-muscular integration. The differences between an Olympic sprinter and a developing athlete is the ability to recruit and fire more muscles in an efficient pattern.
The nervous system is the body’s control system, and in relevance to sports, it controls the coordination of movement. When the nervous system is being trained, the body is better able to activate muscle tissue effectively. An effective and efficient way to train this neural-muscular integration is through speed training.
Specificity is the primary objective in training, HOWEVER, specificity is not always about the way the move looks. The importance of specificity lies in the cellular and tissue level. Neural improvements obtained through speed training attack those levels of movement.
Overall, training speed improves the synchronization of muscle patterns. An athlete that is better at such synchronization can then go on to the specific training for their sport and learn more quickly, no matter the movement. Yes, ‘speed kills’ and is a great trait to have, but there are limits to speed depending on the athlete. However, training speed can also potentiate improvements in our ability to receive other forms of training; and that trait can make any athlete great.
photo courtesy of Amanda Speva