When preparing athletes for high speed running in a game, start with the end in mind and quantify the demand of high speed running that is expected in the match. Work backwards from there to determine how much high speed running should be done in training, considering the athlete's individual abilities. Outside players typically have a higher demand for high speed running than those playing centrally. Research can also provide insight into how much high speed running is needed to prepare for the weekend. Transcript: "When it comes to high speed running prescription, we're talking about how much high speed running should the athletes do during the week in order to be prepared for the high speed running demands on the weekend. So what we do is we start with the end in mind. We look at the match and we think over 90 minutes, how much high speed running is that athlete demanded to do. Now if we can quantify that with GPS and we can get a number, maybe it's a thousand meters of high speed running in the match, then we can work backwards from there. Now for some athletes we might say they can tolerate an additional thousand meters in training to prepare them for that game on the weekend. That doesn't mean do a thousand meters in one day and every day do zero. You know for some athletes that might mean let's do 50% of that midway through the week and then hit 25% on the day after that or maybe 25% earlier but all together we want to get to a thousand meters in the training week before we get to a thousand meters in the weekend. Now that number could be higher or lower depending on the position and depending on the athlete's training experience and what they can actually tolerate. But we want to start with the end in mind. Now if you're not quantifying that with GPS, then yes you have to be really good with the eye test. Typically we think players that play in the outside of the field, outside backs, outside wingers depending on the formation, they're going to be doing a lot more high speed running than players centrally typically. Now there's obvious cases where if your defenders are playing a high line and they're playing against a team that's just constantly playing the ball in behind, then yes your center backs might do a lot of high speed running but in general from what I've seen, those outside players are going to have a higher demand of high speed running and therefore should be prepared for that demand. Now this just goes into more personalization of training and it hopefully brings you the idea that each athlete is going to need something a little bit different and if we can understand the game demands, we can work backwards in the training week to see what that is. If you want to look at what the research says, just go online and find out how much high speed running is needed in the game to prepare for the weekend and there's a lot of great articles on that that have been written that players use each week."
We want to focus on teaching the right shapes and movements early and often in order to reduce the likelihood of injuries caused by poor form. This is important in warm-up, rehab, and speed settings. We need to think through the design of a holistic program to ensure athletes are using proper form and movement skills. Transcript: "When we're talking about movement skill for any sort of injury prevention, we want to make sure that we are teaching the right shapes that are common in that movement so the athlete can be more proficient in that movement. Now of course everyone moves differently but the goal is that we do not want to train different sort of strength capacities or velocity capacities on dysfunctional movement and so we teach these things. Now that's acceleration, we might talk about how the hip, knee and ankle move in that position maybe more like a piston versus in a max velocity or absolute speed setup where that action is going to be a little more cyclical from the hip, knee and ankle. And by identifying those two different types of shapes, we can teach that whether that's in a warm up or a rehab setting or in the beginning of a speed setting so that hopefully those athletes can attain some of those movements and those ideas and carry it over into the field of play more or less when they're not thinking about it, right? We want them to be natural with it. And so we really want to focus on teaching the right shapes early and often and we want to teach this consistently. And if we can do that over and over again, then hopefully we can reduce the likelihood of certain injuries that come from poor form or from putting your body in the wrong position when you're sprinting and you know having this big forward lean when you're supposed to be more upright. We want to teach all the right things. So let's think through that kind of stuff as we're designing this holistic program."
The best way to measure hamstring strength is using a Nordic Board to get force readings while performing the Nordic Hamstring movement. Additionally, making the test part of the training and the training part of the test will help improve the accuracy of the results. Transcript: "The best ways to measure hamstring strength. Well, we could look at a movement like the RDL in the gym and we maybe could say, hey, they're able to lift this much weight with this movement and so the hamstrings are contributing to that. I don't think that's as accurate and we can't get super objective with that besides just saying here's how much weight they lifted. The problem there is there's other things that contribute to movements like that and we need to find something that isolates the hamstrings a little bit more. Something that I think has been really valuable is some sort of Nord board where the athletes are in that Nordic hamstring movement and we can get some sort of force readings from the hamstrings and get a little bit more specific there. Now, is that perfect? Probably not. There's still some holes there a little bit, but it's getting something closer to measuring the hamstrings that we can do consistently and we can do often. I think the most important thing when it comes to hamstring strength is that we make the test part of training and the training is part of the test. So what I like to do is for using the Nordics, we're going to train that Nordic when they feel like they're progressed at it where they can actually handle the volume and intensity of that, then we will just bring in something like the Nord board and so that the athletes are testing on a weekly basis, but really it's just part of their training. Part of the being good at the test is training that test and if we just make a smoother integration of that, we can get better readings which ultimately can just give us insight into how we should progress or regress an athlete."
To train max velocity, coaches must emphasize the cyclical nature of the movement and its quick ground context. They should explain how to achieve this by having athletes imagine they are riding a unicycle, smashing their heel to their butt or calf to hamstring. Additionally, coaches should use different drills such as cubes and plyometrics to help athletes understand and practice the concept. Finally, coaches should ensure that athletes stay upright and contact the ground quickly and forcefully. Transcript: "So when we are talking about training max velocity within a team setting, I think there is a few ways that we have to discuss. The first thing is train it early and train it often. So I think max velocity is one of the most difficult things I have seen soccer players try to attain when they are trying to learn this movement skill. How do we train it? Well showing some sort of video would be helpful but I am going to try and talk you through it. I try and talk the athletes through this idea of riding a unicycle. I am able to stand against a wall or a fence or another athlete and show them the cyclical nature of what we are trying to do. I might talk to them about smashing their heel to their butt or their calf to hamstring in that movement so they don't have a very long heel recovery. Think about someone sprinting and their leg just hangs out way back behind them and they have this long cycle of their heel recovery back up into that high knee sprinter's position. We might talk about short ground contacts and have a theme for their whole entire day or in the warm up and we want quick ground contacts which can carry over into our plyometrics and then maybe we find a way to introduce that into the gym as well and have that theme in their head. But typically we are talking about shapes about staying upright, as tall as you can be and we are contacting the ground forcefully and quickly and then I tell them smash that calf to hamstring and bring that unicycle, that cyclical action a lot quicker. Now that has worked with a lot of athletes. Sometimes we have to use different cues or different ideas but that cyclical nature and tall upright posture is something that has really worked well for me and my athletes."
When periodizing a team's plan, it is important to start with the end in mind. Work on a 6-12 week block and think about what their worst case scenario would be. Plan how to get from A to B in a progressive manner by taking into account total distance, high speed running, and sprint distance. As needed, use additional training outside of normal practice to hit the desired metrics. Transcript: "So, I think the really important thing to think about is when we're looking at periodizing a team's plan is looking at what they're used to and a starting point and then looking at where you want to get them to in the end. So, the end is almost a worst case scenario and that might be looking at two games per week, three games per week in different sports. It might be slightly more condensed, might be slightly longer. Also, you really have to start thinking about the game model that you're thinking about and then how you break that up and periodize that over a period of time. So, you always want to start with the end in mind. So, work on a six or an eight or a twelve week block and think, right, what is our worst case scenario? So, our worst case scenario is that, for example, players have to cover 55 kilometers in a seven day period. On average now, they're covering about 25 kilometers on each seven day period. So, how in a progressive manner can we get from A to B? And that would be from total distance, high speed running and also sprint distance. So, try and periodize those in every single week and if it can't be done through the actual training, no matter how well it is designed, sometimes it doesn't always hit that note, then that's where you can do it as additional top up outside, particularly with things like high speed running or sprint metrics."