T Nation

Speed developement.

Got a question for you all:

If a 12 yr old is fast over 40 yards, will he be fast over 40 yards when he is 21? And the same applies with: if he is slow at 12, will he be slow at 21? I’ve an assignment to complete regarding talent identification of youth soccer players, and I was curious as to how important speed is at a young age, and if the ‘natural speed’ isn’t there, how much improvement could be made through correct training for the next 5+ years? And could you turn a slow kid into a fast adult (I don’t mean Olympic 100m fast, a 100m time of <12seconds would be ok). Also, if anyone knows any useful websites/resources on this topic then I’d like to hear them. Thx.

Check out charliefrancis.com

Interesting question as I have a girl 15 and a boy 10 playing travelling Club soccer here in CA. Just like football or basketball, footspeed and its’ improvement, is critical. I think to improve “2 step” acceleration, the player can do explosive squats and plyometrics. In fact, I too would be interested in hearing ways to improve this. I would source maybe Charlie Francis and Don Beebe on this. Oh, I think generally, fast-twitch genetics and hence speed, does remain with a kid till he/she matures. But I hope it can be marginally improved.

Believe what I am about to tell you right now. No matter what anyone says. Trust me and most importanly trust yourself. If you were given some “slow” genes or whatever don’t even sweat it. Hardwork pays off. “If you want something bad enough, no matter how far off it is, you can get it.”

I think genetics play a large role in speed development, but also I believe that hard work and proper training play a bigger and more important role.

I played soccer all my years growing up. I was not an extremely fast 40yd. dash or 100 meter sprinter as a kid/teenager. But in the actual games my endurance and speed (especially in the 2nd half) were my advantage. My biggest advantage was my desire to win and my competiveness. This question brings up the difference between tests and actual performance in game/sport for athletes. There are extremely strong dudes in the gym who would never cut it as a football lineman for example. AND YES, lots of improvement can be made through proper training. I have been training my hamsrings brutally for 3 yrs now and have seen tremendous improvements in my sprint speed and acceleration. You can be a tremendous leader and example to these kids to not limit their future by their current capabilities. Good luck!

I am a hard runner and Nick is right. Genetics and hard work both play thier rolls. Hence a man given the worse running genes will never run as fast as a man with good genes that trains equally as hard. It does make sense that accuiring the fast twitch muscles at a young age would be benificial even as you get older.

I have seen first hand what hard work does for an individual trying to gain speed. I was training with a buddy who has been drafted by an NHL club. I was in contact with the strength coach which works with the team and he told me that working your fast-twitch fibers is a crucial thing to do in foot speed. We incorporated a lot of quick feet drills, like hexagon, stutter stepping drills, that allowed concentration in this area. A resisted sprint works wonders as well!!

Not positive on this, but I think I recall reading something about this in a previous “Ask the Guru” column over at Chuck Poliquin’s site. Maybe like 4-5 weeks back in the column?

Pick up a copy of the book “sportspeed” by George Dintiman. It lists a variety of tests such as quick feet and handspeed drills and shows you how to interpret the results to find what you’re after. Simple hard work and dedication can make up for a lot in this regard. A slow person doesn’t have to always be slow and a fast person won’t always be fast. The body is a wonderful adaptable machine.

When i was young, i was really slow. I once hit the ball to the fence and only made it to first. My senior year in high school i ran a 4.9 forty at a bodyweight of 255. Now i can run a good 4.7 and a 4.6 on a good day.