Bryan Fetzer is the Director of Track and Field at the University of Virginia. Fetzer has been the head coach at Virginia since December 2011. He came to Virginia after stops at Harvard, Mississippi State, Cal, Gardner Webb and Ball State. In addition, to dozens of track and field All-Americans he has coached, Fetzer has consulted and worked on speed/power development and strength training with several professional athletes in the NFL, MLB, Arena Football League, WNBA and WUSA. Fetzer has also served on several national staffs for various countries for the World Junior Championships, the Commonwealth Games, the NACAC Under-23 Championships and the World University Games.
1. What are your top 3 weight room movements to improve speed?
I am all about the basics. Lunges, Squats, Clean Pulls Lunges (walking or static) mimic running at top speed and I’ve found help with their posture and mechanics. Squats develop so much overall strength. Clean Pulls are functional to starts. I’ve have gotten away from catching anything (Power/Hang Cleans). I have found we do not have enough time to teach/master it with our limitations by the NCAA in terms of hours of practice. I just want the triple extension and postural awareness to be the main focus.2. What does a short-long and long-short program refer to in sprinting? Which do you prefer to use and why?
I use both types of training. It is all based on the individual athlete. More times than not, I will use the short-long method specifically with regards to speed-endurance work. Too many times coaches try to lump everyone into the same category. It doesn’t work. People are not the same. Cookie cutter program cause injuries and a lack of performance.3. What is the most common mistake you see in young athletes trying to improve their speed?
Correcting overall bad habits. Specifically in biomechanics (technique). I have found a large portion of coaches that hear something and do not totally understand it, but then try to implement it. I take the philosophy that what works for you might not work for me. Young athletes should spend more time learning how to accelerate and move correctly and not worry about how fast or far they go. Coaches who deal with these young athletes should put their egos in the their back pocket. Make sure the kid has a future and not a present. College coaches in any sport could careless how productive someone in 4th, 6th or 8th grade does. Take it slow and teach them the basics so they can have a productive and longer career.4. As someone who has worked extensively with track and team sport athletes, what do you see as the biggest differences in their speed training needs?
They are basically the same. The only addition would be more lateral work with the team sport athletes since track/field is so linear. Speed is speed.5. What is your opinion of things like ladders, parachutes, high speed treadmills and the like?
I don’t really use much of those items. Probably because I started in low-budget programs. LOL. Good old fashioned hills are my favorite along with multi-throws (med ball or weights) We have short and longer ones (hills) next to our track at UVA. I do use a short to long method as we train those. Treadmills, I use but mostly during the winter months to control their pace/hills during interval runs, not for true speed work.