With the Olympic Games underway in Tokyo, we wanted to know what athletes had worked on during the off-season. One of the things we heard over and over again was about speed; the need to be faster. In speaking to many coaches, it seemed that apart from technique and strength, speed was one of the most important areas of focus for many athletes.
We asked a long-time friend of JAWKU and renowned speed coach, Michael Cummings, how he prepares athletes to get faster. He says, “I use a modified 3-P approach that I adopted from my years with EXOS. To be fast, an athlete needs to understand how to maximize their three ‘Ps’: Position, Pattern and Power.”Position
Cummings says this is important because it answers the question whether the athlete can get into the most advantageous shape to produce, absorb, and transfer the greatest amount of force. Range of motion, flexibility, balance and stability are important components of position.Pattern
This is crucial because it helps the body resolve and own each movement. Timing, rhythm tempo, coordination, sequencing and repetition are all trainable components that make up patterning. “Practice may not make perfect, but it makes permanent”, says Cummings.Power
Once an athlete can make the shape and hold that shape through event-specific movement patterns without breaking form, that is the point when you add speed and resistance or load to these movements, resulting in power. Strength multiplied by Speed equals Power.
It is important to look at position and action across the legs, arms and torso. Other attributes to look at can be flight time, ground contact time, stride length, stride frequency, dominant force vector, etc.
For the beginner, coach Cummings refers to an easy method to help athletes get better. He learned it from a long-time friend of his, Coach Orr. It is called the TEC model.
This is a great way for a novice coach to help the athlete struggling to improve, by comparing their errors to the technical ideal and then coaching that athlete through the movement.
One of the best ways to coach is establishing a baseline through measurement. Coach Cummings says his speed measurement system of choice is the JAWKU Speed, which he tested very early in its launch.
“Now I see JAWKU teaming up with USA Bobsled, USA Football and other amazing organizations and I am so proud of that team for what they are accomplishing. The Olympics is one of my favorite times of year and I have had the honor of working with Olympic teams from the USA, Japan, Germany and China. I hope JAWKU can get in with these great organizations and help the Olympic athletes and coaches measure as a better way to prepare for their day on the big stage”, says Cummings.
“If you can’t test, you can’t train.” – Mike Boyle
-- Coach Michael Cummings