Speed: Can You Train It?

Once you have the technique and tactics, YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE SPEED!
Once you have the technique and tactics, YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE SPEED!

The simple answer is “Yes!”  The question then to ask is, “How much SPEED is this player capable of handling and able to merge with balance, acceleration, deceleration, and overall quickness?”  Vic Braden years ago conducted a study relating to “fast” and “slow” twitching muscles in the legs and calves.  His conclusion, based across a variety of athletic sports: tennis, basketball, baseball, marathon and sprint runners to name a few, was that certain athletes possess within their genetic code “fast”, “slow” or even “medium” twitch tendencies.  Individual athletes fire their muscles genetically “faster” or “slower” than other comrades in the sport.  Many times, this genetic difference is why certain athletes excel at different sports.  For example, “faster” twitching calf and leg musculature can contribute to a player jumping or being able to accelerate and decelerate with quickness for optimum PLAY.  Other competitors may lean towards having “slow” twitching musculature and thus be phenomenal athletes in long distance, marathon types of running, endurance or anaerobic sports.

With saying all of this, when first accessing an athlete and their initial “SPEED” capabilities.  A coach may ask, “Is this player genetically gifted to be “quick” or “fast”? Training can definitely enhance whatever level of “SPEED” genetics already present, but to suggest that an athlete can perform outside their genetic capabilities without performance enhancing drugs – I’d suggest that might be an overreach.  Honestly accessing an athlete and their SPEED performance will give you as a coach a better understanding of exactly “where” you need to start in training a player.  Frustration can certainly flood your soul as a coach if you have unrealistic expectations of a player to be “fast”, when in reality that player is simply genetically inhibited to travel that far down the “AMAZING SPEED” mindset you have for that player.  As a coach, you can enhance or improve upon the foundation already present in a player’s DNA – keeping a realistic perspective of the individual standing in front of you – each player is unique and different, treating and training them in a “bulk group” with the assumption that all players will yield the same results will only lean itself towards fantasy. “Train up a child in the way “EACH ONE” should go, for they will never depart from it.”  If you really want to see your players yield phenomenal results – train and treat them as unique genetic personalities.

Working with all types of players and ages, with diverse levels of genetic “SPEED CODE” already gifted inside their DNA – I find that having a realistic approach to training players is one where I’m free to design Creative Intelligent Environments (CIE’s) for developing “SPEED”!  It is a wonderful feeling to know that as coaches, we can only do what we know to do – and if you need more information about the “How to train speed?” –  Here’s a good place to start:

1.  Evaluate a player’s Agility (balance and quickness) through a series of SPEED drills?

2.  Develop a “PLAN” based on “what” THE PLAYER wants to achieve?

3.  INsource or OUTsource a  “SPEED” Development Program, this program should be separate from the technical, tactical, and strategic Tennis Specific Performance Training (TSPT).

4.  Incorporate the “SPEED” Development Program into the (TSPT).

Happy “SPEED” training!!


(CIE) Creative Intelligent Environments & Tennis Specific Performance Training (TSPT) copyright2014StyrlingStrotherTennis


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