Speed camps have become all the rage in training youth and high school athletes in the quest to become a faster, better athlete. But sadly, like most fitness “promises”, they fall short of REAL results.
This’ll be a quick post about something that really disappoints me in the strength & conditioning “industry” today: speed camps. Why am I so vehemently opposed to these day/week even month long workshops that promise increased speed for athletes in Minnesota and around the country?
Because these camps are a scam. Read below and I’ll tell you why…
Speed camps (and I’ve participated and helped work for these in the past) typically revolve around a few things: speed ladders, running around cones, wind sprints, (poorly coached) sprint technique, sprint technique drills, and the infamous resisted running with “speed parachutes”.
The “coaches” will try to tell you that speed ladders will increase their stride rate, that the technique coaching will fix your child’s running form, and that all of these tools will get your son or daughter faster… fast. But these camps ignore the #1 way to improve speed in young athletes: STRENGTH.
Why strength? Strength is the foundation of all athletic movement. Your child has bad running technique? Guess what, they simply aren’t strong enough to hold proper positions to be able to sprint properly. Speed camps will dance around the problem, make the athlete “look” a little better when they’re running, and get your child tired, but the underlying problem remains. Speed and sprinting is about being able to apply force into the ground to propel yourself in the direction you want to go. Force application CANNOT be significantly or successfully improved with the use of speed ladders or other “speed camp” tools. Period. To get faster, young athletes must first become stronger. This goes for male AND female athletes. Strength training with a program designed to build strength and explosiveness in an athlete’s “GO” muscles, the posterior chain (think back, glutes, hamstrings) will not only improve SPEED and EXPLOSIVENESS, but will DRASTICALLY reduce the chance of career-ending knee injuries, particularly in female athletes.
Running with a parachute will pull the athlete with uneven resistance and change the mechanics of the very technique “speed camp” coaches will try to teach… Resisted running = good. Running that DESTROYS the mechanics you’re trying to improve via parachute running = STUPID, in-effective coaching and programming, and athletes that NEVER reach their full potential.
Will a kid with excess body fat possibly get in a little better shape from training at a “speed camp” or “speed training center”? Possibly (who wouldn’t get in better shape running around in circles for an hour a few times a week?). But this isn’t recess. This is about being the best athlete you can be, and you just can’t do that at a speed camp.
Oh, and if you’re a Minnesota athlete and want to learn sprinting from a former All-Conference collegiate sprinter who happened to squat over 500 pounds, give me a call at (830) 879-5391, and we’ll get you in the Dungeon breaking personal records faster than a speed camp can say “parachute”. Until next time…