by Keith EnderleinEditors Note: We do not have any affiliation with this product but simply want to share it with you because it is a great resource and its author, James Smith, has been such a valuable influence on our development as coaches.
First off I felt very honored to be asked to review James Smith’s new book, Applied Sprint Training (AST), as his work has been a major influence for my own personal training and as a coach. When I first found his previous work years ago, prior to interning with Juggernaut, it work was my first real exposure to the complexities of physical preparation. I was in my senior year of undergraduate work in Kinesiology and the information he was providing just made sense. It was the things I was doing intuitively but I did not have the correct structure and reasoning behind it. After I read his work I knew the only place I was going to do my internship at was with him and Chad Smith at Juggernaut. I wasn’t interested in learning from anyone else. I wanted to learn more in person from both him and Chad.
To say the least James has had a direct impact on my current knowledge and has helped guide my studies both directly and with my decision to do a special studies track for graduate school. I feel AST really allows coaches and athletes begin to understand the truths of training that I stumbled upon years ago.
AST is rooted in the principles and teachings of one of the greatest and brightest minds in coaching, Charlie Francis. James pays homage to Charlie throughout the book with quotes, references and methods. Charlie Francis, whom many may know was Ben Johnon’s late track coach. James does a great job in the beginning of the book explaining the importance of sprint training and how to migrate what track athletes do for speed development into a variety of other sports seamlessly by looking at a time motion analysis of the sport in question. “Movement is a commonality shared by all sports and the eventual winner is the one who can move the fastest to get to the desired point the first.”
Many training concepts these days are about going beyond the sport limits- longer duration runs, shorter rest periods, destabilizing the surface, etc. in an attempt to improve athletic performance. When you get too far away from the demands of you sport you get less transfer to your training. Training in a lactic environment for an alactic-aerobic sport is not going to yield the greatest results.
Obviously we want athletes who can both run fast and be ready for the energetic demands of their sport but the sport specific conditioning will come later in the yearly calendar and with the sport itself and does not have to be left alone to the physical preparation coach.
“Enter a season fit and the game itself will take care of the rest.” – Charlie Francis
Conditioning is so highly valued that many college and even pro athletes have yet to do one single true speed training session in their entire lives. This may seem crazy but it is a harsh truth and it is due to the improper education for speed development. Coaches are so concerned with getting the athletes able to run 20 40’s that they forget to get the athlete to be able to run fast once first. Getting athletes good at running slow doesn’t seem highly logical or beneficial for athletes.
James does a great job at explaining how to develop your speed training both in the micro and macro to give you an insight on the why’s and how’s to develop a comprehensive speed training plan. AST also teaching you how and why you should implement a HIGH/LOW sequencing of training to maximize speed training days and how to categorize exercises to fit into those days. The HIGH/LOW system is one of the easiest to follow for an athlete who is training for multiple goals.
This book is jammed packed of information that will really help answer so many questions athletes and coaches have about sprint training. From timing, rehab, energetic demands, plyometrics, mechanics, tempos to biomechanics, James puts it all together into a logical flowing package. He does a great job of laying the foundation of sprint training in regards to track and field and branching it off with practical applications for a variety of sports. The programs in the back of the book are extremely insightful as they are actual workouts James has written for his athletes. You can get inside the mind of the author and see his rationale for his program design based on the specific needs of the athlete.
This is a must read book for coaches who have an interest in systematically implementing a structured off-season program. The current nature and structure of the model being used today across the country in Strength and Conditioning should heed to the messages in this book. Most of the problems, issues, misconceptions and improper training methods that are out there in the strength and conditioning world, in regards to sprint training, could be cured if they could just grasp the concepts outlined in this book.
Sprint training seems to have some mystery behind it. Most athletes and coaches think you can’t teach speed-that speed is God given- and that if you want to get faster you need some magic shoe or some special program. AST gives you the tools and understanding of how to get yourself or your athletes faster. Speed is a skill and like any other skill you must practice it over and over again to get good at it.