Yes, I misinterpreted his statement. However, aside from the differences between maximal and operational outputs, I would say players reach their highest operational speeds more often than people think in Football. Also, in consideration of the varying levels of athletes, only elite ethletes are entering maxV at or around 60 meters. The vast majority of athletes that most of us will deal with enter it much sooner, making it that much more important to develop. Most high school athletes will have reached their top speed by 30 yards, college slightly further, and NFL further as well.

I agree with what you are saying I just thought it was important to point out these differences.

Fair enough. One important thing to keep in mind is that it is much easier to improve the first 20m of a 40m sprint than the last 20m.

though in scope for 100m i remember reading that the tenths at the end are easier to cut then the hundreths at the beginning (though i can see peak speed being even harder to develop, i assume the 100m statement is based off maintaing peak speed better??)

Max V is obviously much more important in the 100m than it is football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. Even so, I think the statement is speaking to Speed Endurance. IMHO, most of a novice sprinter’s improvement is probably going to come in the first 30m (accel) and last 40m (SE), at least in the first year or two. Its seems that its much harder to improve Max V, the middle 20-30m, than it is to improve the beginning and the end of the race. But that’s just my take on it.

Just because I don’t focus on Max V doesn’t mean my players don’t have it. I feel for football that acceleration is far more important than Max V. I have players who can out accelerate and therefore run by 95% of defenders. Barry Sanders was a prime example. If he and the defender were both stopped, defender was done. Emmitt Smith was another. Never broke 4.6 but was obviously successful. Obviously, DB’s and WR are a little different, but I will still take the guy who accelerates out of a cut over a speed merchant. Not disagreeing with you guys, just giving some insight into my philosophy.

From my experience, improving explosive power in the hip flexors, decreasing BW & incorporating specific core targeting exercises did more for my acceleration/leg speed & improving my 40 than doing squats ever did.

But compound exercises are certainly important.

For what reason(s) star61?.

What changes 20m onwards?.

The difference lies in the ground contact time. The longer the foot is in contact with the ground the more time the for the muscles to develop maximal force. This relationship can be seen on the Force/Time curve. Because the gct in the start and accel is longer there is more time develop these forces, thus making maximal strength of primary importance especially within the first 10 meters. As the speed progresses the time to develop this force is less, therefore an increase in strength will have less transfer to distances near or around Max V.

With that said, strength is one of the easist fitness qualities to develop versus elastic or reactive power which is seen in Max V, which is why it tends to be easier to improve acceleration.

But, although it is easier to improve the earlier stages of acceleration, the improvement itself is relatively small as the distance is short. As Charlie would say, why waste so much time on the start to try and cut hundredths off your time, when you can take tenths or a whole second off concentrating on the latter portion of your race. (or something along those lines, but you get the point)

Things like squat, plyos, sleds, hills, have all shown to help in the first 20m or so, but do very little to improve Max V. For most running the forty, they are approaching Max V at 40. I was thinking of high schoolers, so for them, most of he improvement will come in the first 20m by using the methods I list above.

Very good points.

would you consider plyometrics the best way to improve Max V? Other than perhaps sprinting itself.

Not sure you’re addressing me, but I would love to hear others opinions on this. It seems that the best tools for Max V are…

  • max velocity sprints such as flying 20’s, e-f-e etc.
  • bounds (we’re doing bounds with weighted vest)

Elasticity, which you may develop with plyometrics (still aspecifically though), is just one part of the equation.
Correct form and relaxation are often more important to improve max V. Learning to relax is the most difficult thing of all. I don’t know any particular exercise that teaches this instantly. Unless you’re gifted it may take years of practice.

Charlie spoke about “frequency drills” he would have his athletes do before max speed sessions.
I asked about these a while ago, check it out:

thanks! good link

Plyos have many benefits of course, however its relation according to the F/T curve sill shows that it is not specific to max speend in regards to the ground contact.

Plyometric anad I mean the true form of plyometric as in a depth jump should have a gct in the range of .2s where as an average sprinter at Max V will have a gct around .1s.

Although they appear close, in terms of the force output they are still very far apart.

As star61 mentioned, EFE, FEF drills. flying runs and other Max V drills will be much closer in GCT versus the training elements like plyos or bounding. But they all have the place

so, could one assume that the best way to train for Max V is to train drills with the least amount of GCT? The lower the better…

I suppose, not a fan of the “best” term though. There are so many factors going into it. Understand gct and the F/T relationship, then decide what to do depending on the athlete and the situation at hand. Certainly Sprinting and speed drills are the most specific and closest in GCT, but as stated earlier Plyos, bounding, skips, and weights all have their place.

Keep in mind that the guys running 0.80s and 0.81s in races are the guys doing some power work (sleds and the like) but also lots of overdistance.

For your fitness level, the best way is to improve MaxV is to do flying sprints with a long leadin–as long a leadin as your fitness can handle. Charlie had Ben do flying 20s with a 60m leadin; Gay with Bauman has done flying 30’s with a 45m leadin.

What doesn’t get talked about as much is that after the acceleration zone, you have to be able to produce ATP fast enough and long enough to train MaxV. If your legs can’t go fast enough after accel for 50-60m, you cannot train your CNS to respond faster. This requires the fitness you get from significant amounts of SE and IT. Without this fitness, you will plateau in MaxV quickly.

Alternate leg bounding is believed to be the best plyo exercise for MaxV. But if you look through the literature, it is difficult to find any citations for plyos improving MaxV. I found a bunch with sleds and such improving the first 20m (accel) but with no effect on MaxV.

Great post lkh! However, would you mind clarifing this for me even further:

  • if a begginer-intermediate (talking about 11.0-11.5s/100m) sprinter that accelerates only to 35-45m is to train his max speed, one of the things he should be doing is flying 20’s with 25-30m leading to train the CNS properly?

Great post, I agree with this. Interestingly, the only time I remember Charlie discussing downhill running in a positive way, it was addresssing this issue. A slight downhill during the acceleration phase can put the sprinter at Max V sooner, perhaps in 30-45m depending on the athlete. You just need to make sure you are on the flat before, or right at, reaching Max V. This allows you to get to Max V sooner but with no worries of disrupting Max V mechanics.