I, much like so many coaches, thought we ( at MBSC) were doing a pretty good job with our speed training. We lifted, we did our plyos, and we “ran” sprints.
However, we were making a few critical mistakes.
Mistake 1- Most of our lifting was vertical and, speed is obviously horizontal. Let's face it, Olympic lifts, squats and deadlifts are done up and down, not forward.
Mistake 2- Most of our plyos were also vertical or, at least more vertically oriented. We did not do enough horizontal work or, enough unilateral plyometric work
Mistake 3- Our sprints weren't actually sprints. I think we did some fast running but, I'm not sure every athlete sprinted.
So, we've talked a lot about problems (in Part 1) and mistakes (in Part 2), how about a few potential solutions?
Proposed Solution 1
Timing Ten Yard Dashes
We now time some variation of a 10 yard sprint twice per week following what I call Tony's Rules.
- Tony's Rule #1- one athlete at a time. Coaches love competition but, kids get tight when they compete. They worry too much about the opponent and not enough about themselves. Your competition in sprinting is you and your best time. Your goal is to beat your time, not to beat someone else. Trust me, kids will compete against each others times anyway but, don't line up and have races unless you want injuries.
- Tony's Rule #2- 2-3 sprints a day, no more. We need to know that more isn't better. I'll admit occasionally we run 4 sprints but, we've never done 5. That means we run somewhere between a low of 4 and a high of 8 sprints a week.
We also follow Mike's Rules!
Mike's Rule #1 - We are adamant about "Does It Hurt?" (read Does It Hurt here)
We are constantly reminding our athletes not to sprint if they don't feel perfect. I know this sounds like common sense but, you will be surprised by how many athletes will tell you after the fact that they sprinted in spite of being sore and, now they feel worse.
I frequently hear “ I felt a little something on the one before” and, that drives me nuts. Teach your kids to respect their bodies. Full speed sprinting can and will get you hurt when done in a less than perfect state.
No one gets made fun of or belittled for not running sprints. Sore from practice the night before, no sprints. Tournament over the weekend and feeling a little tight, no sprints. Our goal is to get faster, not to get hurt.
Proposed Solution 2
More horizontal speed and power work.
We now include sled march as a strength exercise and sled sprints as a power exercise. Think of the sled push as a standing, closed chain, horizontal leg press.
Think of sled sprints as horizontal Olympic lifts.
What's a Good Time?
One subject that keeps coming up is “what is a good time”?
I can provide times for elite Professional Hockey, elite Women's Hockey ( US Olympians and NWHL) , Elite College Hockey ( NCAA Division 1 men's and women's), and high end middle schoolers. I don't have enough data on high schoolers yet but, it's coming.
However, in order to do this we needs to be a few parameters. Tony Holler's times for Flying 10's are taken in the 30-40 yard segment of a forty yard dash. We would refer to this as a 30 yard fly-in. To be clear this means that the last 10 yards of the forty yard dash is recorded as the Flying 10 time.
The length of the fly-in will obviously influence the time. A longer fly-in will pretty consistently yield a lower time. We have experimented with 5, 10 and 15 yard fly-in's and every athlete gets faster as we add an additional 5 yards.
This is our progression:
Phase 1 for us is a standing 10. This means that twice per week we time a series of standing 10 yard dashes. As mentioned above, we do 2-4 reps twice per week. The sprints are done after we have done our dynamic warmup and, completed our plyometrics and medicine ball throws. Warm-up also includes 2-4 reps through an acceleration ladder ( think wickets, minus the wickets), 2-4 wicket runs or, some combination.
(Note: We never run from three or four point stance. The only people who might need a three point stance are football linemen, and those attending combines. A four point stance or block start should be reserved for track and field.)
All of our times are from a standing start using the Brower start block ( not a starting block but, a block feature of the Brower Timer that records start at foot movement). This is a two point start.
The reason this information is important is it allows us to get an apples to apples comparison
These are “good” standing 10 times for the respective category:
NHL / Div 1 - 1.2- 1.3 sec
Elite Female (USWNT) - 1.4-1.5
Middle School Male- 1.4- 1.5
Middle School Female - 1.5-1.6
Phase 2- is a five yard “fly in”, again done twice per week. We stay with 2-4 timed reps per day for a total of 6-8 sprints per week. It is important to note that adding a 5 yard fly increases the distance sprinted by 50%. ( 3 standing ten yard sprints is 30 yds. The addition of a 5 yd fly-in ups the distance to 45 yds.)
With a 5 yard fly-in the time will drop by approximately .1.
All Flying 10's are recorded with a Brower Electronic timer. For flying tens you will need two sets of sensors. The start block feature is no longer used.
Phase 3- ten yard “fly in” twice per week, 2-3 timed for a total of 4-6 ( 80 -120yds)please note that adding and additional 5 yard to the “fly” can again increase the distance sprinted by 25%.
With a 10 yard fly-in the time will drop by .2 ( from the standing 10).
Most of the year we are limited to a 5 yard fly in and then to 10 yard fly-in due to space constraints. 15 yard fly-ins are only used in the summer.
Flying 10 Times (10 yd Fly-In)
NHL- Flying 10: 1.04-1.07
Elite Women's Hockey ( US Olympians/ NWHL) Flying 10: 1.15- 1.2
High School Male Flying 10: 1.1+
Middle School Male Flying 10: 1.2+
Middle School Female Flying 10: 1.2+
Phase 4 ( summer only) - 15 yard “fly in” twice per week, 2-3 timed for a total of 4-6 (100 -150yds)
Please note that adding an additional 5 yard to the “fly” can again increase the distance sprinted by 25%.
The 15 yard fly only drops the time approximately .05.
Just as an review:
- Adding a 5 yard fly-in drops the 10 time by .1 sec.
- Adding a 10 yard fly drops it by .2.
- Adding 15 is 2.5.
So, an athlete that runs 1.5 for a standing 10 will run"
- 1.4 with a 5 yd fly,
- 1.3 with a 10 and
- about 1.25 with 15.
Hopefully if you made it through all three parts of this you'll understand that a progression of timed ten yard sprints can be a game changer. I would only ask that rather than talk about why you can't implement timed sprints you give it a try! I know I made excuses for years but, we are never going back. We have seen really dramatic increases in speed and, we've seen it translate to the field, court etc.