I have had the pleasure of traveling the United States and being able to attend many Speed & Agility seminars. It has been a great experience meeting people like Maria Mountain with Revolution Sports Conditioning, Mark Verstegen Founder of Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance, Al Vermeil , Brian Grasso, Rob Rogers, Robert Dos Remedios, but no one has influenced me more then Lee Taft. Lee’s ideas and concepts have cut through the complex understanding of how to evaluate and understand the movements of an athlete. By understanding how to look at the movement of an athlete I have been able to help train athletes to be the best they can be.
The first concept that Lee taught me was the understanding of “It’s a skill, not a drill”. A very simple but very true concept a coach or trainer must comprehend. To have an athlete or group of athletes do a drill or exercise for the sake of filling a session or practice leads an athlete to nowhere. The understanding of what your athlete needs to make him or her better is truly the first step in making that athlete successful. It is the assessment of the athlete and then providing the drills that improve the skills of the athlete—that’s what we do! Remember it’s always a “Skill not a Drill!”
To really understand Athletic Speed one must look at what the demands are of the athlete in the sport that he or she plays. Most coaches stress the need of linear speed—when in actuality the athlete’s sport really requires a immense amount of quick and powerful acceleration in a very short length of distance on many different planes and many directions—Multi-Directional Speed. Multi-Directional Speed is Game Speed! Very powerful moves in all directions and planes (Linear, Lateral, Vertical & Rotational). Many coaches time their players only in the 60 or 40 yard sprints when in reality very few players ever run that distance in their sport. Let me ask—Is it more important that a player is faster in the first 10 yards or last 10 yards of the 60 yard sprint time? Let’s say that the player is a football running back—is it important for him to be faster in the first 10 or last 10? Well if you haven’t figured it out yet —it’s the first 10! When your team offensive linemen open the hole for that split second your running back better have a very fast 10 yard time–if he doesn’t —do not plan on scoring on the ground. Let me ask again–how many times in a basketball game does the player run linear (straight head) ? In basketball the player better have the skill to move forward (Linear), sideways (Lateral), up to the basket (Vertical) and backwards (Back Pedaling). The need to run 60 yards straight ahead in basketball rarely happens. There have been many sport performance studies done specifically on basketball speed. These studies have pointed to the need of training basketball players in multi-directions. So why all the 60 and 40 yard timing? Because it’s an easy way for a coach or trainer to evaluate –to have a number. I am not sure what the number does for the player, but it is the reality of our time.