SimplyLacrosse Interview with Roger White March third, 2011
Speed training is one of those areas that Lacrosse coaches and youth coaches of all sports tend to overlook as a priority. As coaches most of us don't come from a speed background. We are Dad's and Mom's for the most part who fall in love with this awesome sport and things like speed training rarely get addressed. I come from a very structured football background where speed training is a part of life. For me I understand the need for speed and have a basic understanding of how to get it done, but many youth coaches just do not. I thought it would be good to ask a few questions on behalf of those coaches who are interested, but may have some trepidations about moving forward with a program of their own.
Roger I know you have an extensive and growing resume of accomplishments and your E-book is very well written.
1. Can you tell our visitors who you are and what you know about speed training?
Jamey, I had a track and field, basketball, and football sport career, ultimately playing college football. I was undersized and relied on speed to get by. I explored many things as a kid, such as strength shoes, jump workouts, and a variety of sprinting programs and devices.
Since my playing days ended, I had a passion to help others. I had enough background to to "talk the talk" and learn from coaches who had incredible results. I was very selective in who I learned from. There are two coaches who had a huge impact on my development early on. One was a former olympic sprint coach who coached three world record sprints in his career. What drew me to him was the story of taking a group of 30 teenagers from one large city and out of that group, nearly a dozen made it to the olympics in some level. Think about that! Take a large city like Dallas, or L.A., and in one group of 30+ kids, 30% of them make the Olympics! That is unheard of and never been repeated since that I am aware! So obviously this coach knew how to develop talent and I spent lots of money and time learning from him.
The second coach had a huge impact on my knowledge of changing direction, which is so important in lacrosse. I thought doing cone drills was good until I met this guy. He taught me so many things about placement of feet in relation to the hips and putting the body in good angles to move naturally.
2. Besides the obvious fact that this is America and we all need to make a buck, what was the inspiration for you to write this book?
When I ran my first youth camp, I wanted to provide a lot of value to the athletes. I remember as a young athlete going to camps that one of the coolest things was a camp that gave me a workbook with drills to do at home. I remember practicing these drills after camp in my basement. I liked this idea and created a workbook of drills we did at that camp. I later added to it and after 6 months of working on it daily, the book was complete. I have since added some extras to it like the jump rope program and some foot quickness drills, but 90% of it was done in that 6 month span. It's not about the money really. If it were, I'd charge a lot more for it! =)
As it turned out, the book really helps parents and youth coaches incorporate different types of drills into their practices.
With so few hours available for practice during the season Coaches are often afraid to dedicate valuable time to speed training.
3. How much practice time should you invest in speed training?
This is one of those "depends" questions. First is the age of the athlete. Second is the time of year. Training should be fun and exploratory for kids under 12 years old. Nothing should be formal with sets and reps. if you want to do some jump rope, let the kid jump rope. When he is tired he will stop. If he doesn't want to do it, it's ok. He's a kid.
As kids age, training will become more formal. Maybe at age 12, you would have a kid do 10 jumps, or see how fast you can do 100 jump ropes. It's still fun, but becoming more structured. When they hit high school aged, it still needs to be fun but more structured. They will have a weekly plan of sorts. I still have fun, but usually leave the fun as incentive for hard work. Our fun is in the form of tag. There are several tag games I play for agility development, but we use them sparingly for a reason. When I set up the tag games, the guys know it's time to have fun, but still work hard.
The second issue I mentioned was time of year. If you have time between seasons, this is ideal to work on the drills I use with athletes. During season, it's hard with practice time. What I usually recommend to coaches is spend 5 minutes as part of the warm up doing something that can help their speed. Usually this isn't sprint work, but might be some medicine ball throws, or some foot quickness drills, or even tag.
4. What should you expect to gain from that investment?
During the season, it is hard to see drastic improvements, compared to those you would see if someone did training for 6 months and t hen played. In-season improvements will come in the form of better footwork, better body positioning etc. More of the things responsible for small area quickness. The overall "sprint" improvements will be harder to come by due to lack of training time.
If using the time between seasons, you can expect some radical results. I had a young girl who spent 4 months with me. After spending that much time, I like to hear their comments after their first game of the season (usually some pick up type league in the winter to prep for spring season). This young girl made a comment that her range on her passes had improved so much she had a hard time with her accuracy and touch on long passes since they were passed too far over her teammates head.
I had a high school player who spent 6 months with me and put in close to 60+ workouts, plus another 60+ workouts in the weight room. He lead the state in goal scoring, points, and lead his team to the state finals. He ran by anyone he wanted, his shot speed has increased from our medicine ball throws and weight program, and his quickness had improved. He was scoring 5+ goals in most games and had a fantastic season.
At the high school and above levels year round training is a part of life. It is much easier to install a speed program in the off season and just maintain during the season. At the youth level however you only have a very short season.
5. Can you really improve the performance of your team over the course of 3-4 month season?
3-4 months, absolutely. It takes time for the body to adapt to the training program. Doing 1-2 weeks isn't enough time to see any serious results. This may sound contradictory to above, but there are things that are easy and improve faster than other areas. To improve sprint speed takes time. Think about track sprinters. They spend months training without a meet. then have meets for only a few months out of the year. All of that to gain a few tenths on their race.
Improvements can be made no matter what you do. But understanding and being realistic to the improvements is important. Each person improves differently. But with steady commitment, kids will improve.
This past year, I had two high school junior LAX players start training. They started in September. Just last week (End of February), we did some testing. Their vertical jumps went from 24-30 inches, and 27-30.5 inches, and their agility times improved several tenths of a second. I am not making these results up. Putting in 2-3 days a week for that period of time, kids can improve.
I appreciate very much the tools you provide in your book to guide coaches to better speed.
6. Can you share a favorite tip or two that our visitors can take back to their practices today?
The younger the athletes, the more fun the drills need to be. Make it a contest between the positions, or just randomly divide the team. Have a skip for distance contest. Kids love this stuff. Guess what? they will be busting their tails trying to beat their buddy. If you told them, guys, we are going to skip for distance 10 times, you'll get maybe 80% of the effort they'd give in that contest. There is a warning on this competitive fun tip when it comes to sprint work. Repetitive sprints with minimal rest doesn't improve an athlete's speed and as they get older, may put them at rest for injury.
A second tip is be realistic in expectations. There are very few "new" "ground breaking" and "earth shattering" techniques. Most are basics. some maybe be unique. Some maybe be simple and I encourage the parents and coaches to look for something very subtle that may be different. A good example is the skip. Many athletes can skip. How many athletes know how to skip and do it in a way to improve their arm and leg action when sprinting? Do you know how to coach the athletes into proper position for these drills? Yes, skips are basic, you probably seen them before, but knowing the answers to the questions above may get different results. Maybe having fun is what was needed to get that extra effort from the kids to start to see the results faster.
7. Can you outline how your program is laid out for those coaches interested in investing in your speed program for their team?
I put together the book in sections based on the template I use for my workouts. We start each workout with a proper warm up. Younger kids will take 15-20 minutes while high school kids may take 30+ minutes. The warm up consists of stretching, foot quickness drills, and technique drills (both sprint and agility). I break each of these up into sections for the coach to implement into practices as needed (Monday is foot quickness, Tuesday is agility technique etc). From the "menu" you pick your exercises. Athletes prefer some, some of them have equipment you may or may not have available. There are many options to get the job done.
I provide pictures of every drill in the book. Most drills have multiple images, (which is why it took 6 months to finish!) I also provide sample workouts. They are samples and not for everyone, but do give you an idea of how to put together workouts. Everything is covered in this book from flexibility, medicine ball throws for power and first step quickness, foot quickness drills, sprint drills, acceleration drills, strength exercises (body weight and weight based), and jump drills for multiple purposes.
I have often seen programs that use tools and training equipment like rubber bands for resistance and other training devices, some expensive and others not so much.
8. Is it necessary to purchase expensive equipment in order to realize excellent results?
I have exercises that include the use of jump rope, a tire, and medicine balls. They are not necessary, just options. A local snow sledding hill is a great substitute for a tire. Medicine balls are found at most sporting goods store and I even give a guide for purchasing the correct weight and type, but again, not needed, just an option. If you don't have a jump rope, jump in place. The concept of what is being done is most important, not the equipment being used.
9. Do you recommend any specific equipment and what is the cost and value?
A medicine ball is worth is weight and then some! I recommend the harder types that bounce however. The weight depends no the weight of the athlete and their strength levels. Most balls will last forever. I have a ball I still use today that I used when I played over 12 years ago! It's still in great shape. The heavy balls may run you $50 and the lighters one around $20. The bonus is that they can be used for so many drills that it's value is very high.
Jump ropes are great and are usually cheap. I use ropes that cost me about $3 each and last my thousands of jumps before needing replacement.
Lastly, most coaches do not mind investing in a product that is affordable and truly adds value to their teams.
10. I think many people will not believe the value of "Developing Youth Speed" When I first came across your book and having personally engaged speed trainers in the past for our football programs, I was expecting the cost to be much higher. How affordable is your book, and how can interested coaches get their copy of your terrific guide?
The book is over 100 pages of content, with over 100 drills. I also added bonus such as the four week jump rope workout, a medicine ball guide, a foot quickness guide. I even include audio tips I recorded in the past on topics.
For my youth groups, I charge $20 per session. The book is $39.99. So for the cost of 2 training sessions with me, you can have the entire training package. All of the books are available through download to e-book which is a .pdf file. There are no printed copies of these materials. Once you purchase, you will immediately download it to your computer.
You can find the book at www.developingyouthspeed.com
Jamey, thanks for having me. It was great sharing information with you today. Let's do this again soon! So long.
Coach Roger White
"Catch Me If You Can"
Disclaimer - SimplyLacrosse.com is not a non profit organization and we do have costs associated with publishing this ever growing mostly free resource for the Lacrosse community. One of the ways we earn revenue to offset those costs is through advertising. I want to be very different than most websites on the net and be completely open with you all in telling you that we do earn a small affiliate commission on the sale of Rogers book. With that said, I have a firm passion to provide only the best resources and tools I can to help you enjoy the game. This is a resource that we found, that we have read, used, and believe in. If we didn't think it was a good resource that you might benefit from we wouldn't have asked Roger to allow us to share it with you. I hope you will find that his guide is as much use to you as it has been to so many others including myself.