The development of speed

Speed ​​is defined as the distance traveled per unit of time, whereas multidimensional speed can be defined as a series of complex movements in the shortest possible amount of time. More specifically, it is the ability to change the direction or orientation of the body based on internal and external information, without significant loss of speed.

Different types of speed:

Speed ​​of action: act as quickly and efficiently as possible in the game, thanks to technical and tactical abilities and physical condition.

Action speed with a ball : Run at maximum action speed with a ball, as well as perform speed movements without a ball.

Reaction speed : responding quickly to an unanticipated action

Decision speed: react as quickly as possible to make an effective decision when faced with the multitude of possibilities.

Anticipation speed: based on real experience and knowledge, enable the actions of opponents or teammates and the progression of the game.

Perceptual speed: assimilate, analyze and quickly use information concerning the evolution of the game via the senses (vision and hearing)

Mental speed: quickly analyze (capacity of perception and anticipation) a game situation and react quickly with effective action or “quick decisions”.


The Determining Factors of Speed

High running speed not only requires good speed factors, but also strength, physical qualities, coordination, technical qualities and running economy, among other things.

  1. Reaction speed: React as quickly as possible to the given signal
  2. Acceleration ability: The most important ability of a sprinter in full acceleration, linked to leg strength, and horizontal and vertical jumping.
  3. Strength training: Strength training aims to improve speed, particularly explosive and plyometric strength.
  4. From a biomechanical point of view: it is an alactic activity of the functioning of anaerobic metabolism which uses phosphate compounds (ATP, CP) creating energy.

Systemic speed analysis

Mathematical and mechanical elements

Power = force X speed.

Speed ​​= Distance / time

Force = mass x acceleration

Work = Power X Time

Bioenergetic Activities

Maximum running intensity causes a rapid breakdown of creatine phosphate (CP) compounds and a drop in speed at the same time. CP reserves are replenished very quickly because they are essential for the re-synthesis of ATP.

Sex and Age: Baseline speed is the factor of physical performance that reduces and increases with age; this is mainly due to age-related loss of strength and deterioration of coordination skills

Nerve transmission velocity : Athletes practicing force velocity or developing force types for specific disciplines have decreased or increased nerve transmissions depending on the type of fibers involved, particularly type 2 fibers.

Elasticity, Extensibility and Muscle Relaxation : If the elasticity, extensibility and relaxation capacities are insufficient, it will reduce the amplitude and deteriorate coordination

About warm-ups: the temperature increases in the muscles. The temperature must be optimal, slow, progressive.

Exhaustion or Fatigue: Fatigue causes a greater reduction in energy reserves and greater acidity in the muscles. Maximum speed cannot be achieved in a state of fatigue because the control processes of the central nervous system are affected and cannot provide the coordination necessary to develop high speed.

Neuromuscular adaptations

  • mainly depends on the coordination ability, such as the neuro-regulation process - muscle
  • increases fibers (type 2, large FT muscle fibers)
  • increases the rate of strength development
  • improves nerve conductivity
  • increases and improves the use and engagement of motor units 2 (spatial and temporal)
  • improves muscle synchronization
  • slows down Renshaw cells which contributes to coordination
  • increases stretch/shorten cycle

Impact of Speed ​​training

  • The distribution of muscle fibers and the structure of innervation are genetically determined. 2 types of fibers contained in the muscles show that the proportion of fibers responsible for rapid contraction has a direct positive impact on motor speed. Born sprinters have a higher percentage of 2 fibers.

  • Targeted speed or strength training can increase the cross-sectional area of ​​FT type B muscle fibers, which are essential for speed.

  • Training for children, including speed training: Stimuli created early on as fun have a big impact on the child's speed level and strength rate.

Speed ​​training

  • These short-term effects are thought to be the result of changes in neural factors. Studies have shown that short-term resistance training can increase force production in the absence of hypertrophy.
  • Although the neural factors are not very well defined, these early strength gains are attributed to an increase in peak muscle activation level.
  • High speed training with low loads is linked to the ability to quickly produce force, and this ability is involved in daily activities as well as in athletic sports.
  • High speed exercises result in specific high speed adaptations and should be used to try to improve high speed movements.
  • Furthermore, short duration training is very effective in developing high adaptability of neural factors, which increases performance in the absence of muscle hypertrophy.

François Ferré, trainer of the SSCS Training team for the Physical Trainer Diploma

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