SPEEDWORK CAN HELP
(Active Alex 3/2012 - Full Article)
By Ashley Prince
Even if your child is a good athlete, experts say one aspect of performance can almost always be improved. That aspect is speed.
“Talent alone doesn’t make you great. You have to work at it,” says Bill Burniston of The Performance Academy
Sue Ahrens, a trainer at Athletic Performance Center (APC)
in Cary and Raleigh, says speed training works to improve form because bad form and bad habits can lead to injuries. Speedwork isn’t for one particular sport; places such as The Performance Academy and APC train all types of athletes.
What is speedwork?
According to Frank Price, who runs outdoor speed courses through ASA
, it’s the use of repetition to focus on speed and form. Not only does speedwork improve a child’s top speed, but it helps build an explosive first-step takeoff, and forward and lateral movement, a necessity in every sport.
Ahrens teaches her athletes proper body form and helps them understand how their bodies move and work, especially as their muscles develop.
Kate Cox, 7, trains with Ahrens once a week at APC to improve her speed and form for soccer. She plays for a CASL
team, Next Level Academy
and Peppa Pink, a team coached by her dad, John Cox.
During Kate’s hour-long session, Ahrens watches her run and sprint to check her progress, then they work on mechanics. Because Kate started training at a young age, Ahrens says she has fewer bad habits to correct than a high school athlete might. The training sessions include fun activities to help with arm motions, posture and leg positioning. Kate’s favorite activity is balancing on the bosu ball and trying to beat her record of 38 seconds on her left foot.
Although Kate goes in once a week, Price says he recommends two or three times a week, depending on the child’s age.
Cox says that after four sessions, he can already see the difference in his daughter on the soccer field. Kate’s teammates “are skilled soccer players, but Kate’s got speed and can shoot. And that makes her stand out,” he said.
When your schedule gets hectic and you can’t take your child to a session as often as you’d like, there are things you can do at home to help your child. Kate’s dad helps her with her form by helping her run with a parachute on and practicing arm positioning.
Bill Burniston says the most important thing parents can do is to encourage children. They shouldn’t strive for perfection, he says, but improvement. “The kids can’t do this alone,” he says.
Speed training is becoming more widespread for youth because it helps with all sports. It is a fun way to be active and improve as an athlete.
If speedwork is new to you and your family, Sue Ahrens makes sure to tell parents that “sometimes you have to go back to square one to teach the mechanics. Your child won’t always be sweating and panting after a session — it’s a different kind of workout.”
Burniston says the most important thing to remember is patience. “We live in an instant world, but there is no instant success,” he said. “Speedwork requires patience. You have to understand patience.”
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