Fast as a lightening... BOLT!

10 June 2011
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Image credit: ververidis / 123RF Stock Photo

Usain Bolt returned to the world of competitive 200m running last night at Oslo’s Bislett Games after 13 months off from the event. And what a return it was! Not only did he comfortably win the race but he also ran a new world leading time this year of 19.86s – that’s the equivalent of running two 9.93s 100m sprints! On the TV coverage last night the commentator said that Bolt has only just started his speed work... so imagine what he can do once his training cycles peak...

So this got me thinking...

  • How important is speed in sport?
  • And do amateur sportsmen and women do enough speed work in training?

Importance of speed

Speed comes in various forms: speed across the ground; speed of thought; and speed of reflexes for example. I can’t name many sports where speed is not an advantage, so whether it’s getting to the finish line quicker, or reading the game first, or just reacting to a shot from your opponent it is clear that being quick can give you that competitive advantage that will put you ahead of your rivals.

Do we speed train enough?

I can only answer this from personal experience, but as an amateur sportsman I’d say we often find our training sessions heavily focussed on skill and tactics. Now you may argue this is the right way to go and for the majority of the time I’d agree, but I do think that there is a place for speed work in the amateur’s training regime. Even if it’s just a handful of speed sessions throughout the season, get them planned in but remember to keep them specific to your sport or event – you don’t want to develop straight line speed if your sport mostly entails lateral movements.

So like Usain Bolt is starting to do now... get speed training! These kinds of drills will keep your training fresh, ensure those mid-season slumps stay away and you stay sharp throughout the season.

If you didn’t watch the Diamond League Event last night, check out the highlights of the men’s 200m race at the BBC website.

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