The 5 Most Common Speed Training Mistakes


It seems many people believe that running through an agility ladder for 15 minutes once a week and doing some push-ups and sit-ups is going to deliver long lasting results.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It would be lovely if we could put minimal time and effort into something and derive incredible results, but the earth doesn’t spin that way.

Our muscular and nervous systems simply don’t adapt and change that quickly and easily. Our body doesn’t want to change. It actually wants to stay the same because that’s much easier than changing.

Making a change – whether that’s getting stronger, faster, quicker, etc. – requires quite a bit of consistent effort.

To gain any meaningful results from a sports performance training program, you have to commit at least two days a week for at least 6-8 weeks, usually longer.

Learning proper acceleration mechanics for example, requires our nervous system to learn completely new firing patterns. As with learning any new skill, this requires a lot of repetition to teach your nervous system you want to move differently. It usually takes a few weeks of consistent practice just to break old habits, but it takes another 6-10 weeks to make these new movement patterns the default setting.

Being the natural response is what we always strive for because players shouldn’t be thinking about how to run in the middle of a game.

With this in mind, here are the 5 sports speed training mistakes I see made most often:

1. Infrequent Training –

Training once a week is better than not training at all, but you’re simply not going to get quality results from infrequent training. If you all you can do is train once a week, that’s better than nothing. Unfortunately, each time you miss one of those workouts, it really sets you back. Haphazard scheduling will deliver poor results. Ideally, all sports coaches and clubs should be including quality speed and movement skills training within their sports specific work. But in my experience, even at the highest level this just doesn’t happen.

2. Lack of Feedback/Instruction –

Feedback and instruction are the most crucial elements of speed training. If you’re not performing the movements with good mechanics, you’re simply reinforcing the same mistakes you’re trying to correct. You’re working hard but will stay slow. That doesn’t make any sense.

Would you practice your sport with poor technique? Would your coach ever watch you practice and not give you feedback and instruction?

The same holds true for speed and agility training. Having a qualified and experienced coach working with you makes a huge difference in the quality and efficiency of your training.

The biggest problem here is that athletes (and sports coaches for that matter) end up thinking that the training doesn’t work, and they get discouraged or quit.

The truth is that without good coaching, training doesn’t work very well.

You might get tired but the results you’re hoping for (being faster or quicker in a game) aren’t going to be realized.

Ladder Drill

Do these boots make my feet look big?

3. Non-Specific Training – I see a lot of coaches and athletes simply running through drills they see on YouTube.

While this is better than nothing, using toys like agility ladders or hurdles is nothing more than general fitness and conditioning unless the said drills have a teaching purpose and are done with maximum intensity.

Make sure you are great at the movements you have to do on the field, not just random drills.

When do you ever want your players to look like this on the field? Never. So, don’t spend a lot of time on this when you could spend your time and energy perfecting the movements you actually use such as accelerating, decelerating, cutting, sprinting, turning and jumping with great mechanics.

4. Incomplete Programming & Progressions –

Like I alluded to above, 15 minutes of stand alone training simply isn’t enough for most to make meaningful progress in their overall athleticism. Running though a few drills at the beginning of practice is nothing more than a glorified warm-up.

It needs to lead to something with substance. The gaps need to be bridged between, mobility, strength, stability, movement quality speed drills and the game itself. And they all need to progress as you improve.

Going through a comprehensive evaluation will help you determine your specific needs and help you create a program to work on your limitations. Most people need to include strength training, coordination and mobility work to their programme as most movement limitations are due to lack of one or a combiination.

5. Inconsistency –

Professional players continue to improve their speed and athleticism by consistently reinforcing it throughout the year. Even in season, it’s important to keep in touch with speed and strength every week and to constantly monitor movement efficiency throughout the long season. They will consistently perform speed, agility, strength and mobility drills in order to make constant improvements and keep bad habits at bay.

It takes several weeks of consistent training to see the benefits, but it only takes a couple of weeks to start losing it.

Being a great all round athlete is the cornerstone to success in all court and field sports. Speed Academy offers everything you need to complement your sports training.

I’m biased, so don’t take my word for it – book a Free Trial and see for yourself what your player could achieve with a little help.

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