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Agile Athlete: Power & Strength for Speed Development

In the pursuit of peak athletic performance, athletes are constantly seeking ways to refine their mechanics, improve agility, and enhance overall performance. While factors like faster feet, athletic fluency, and mobility play crucial roles, none of these elements can reach their full potential without one fundamental aspect: strength and power.

In the world of sports science, speed is the ultimate expression of power, and strength serves as the bedrock upon which power is built. This article delves into the significance of strength and power for athletes looking to achieve explosive changes of direction, lightning-fast first steps, and powerful strides. We’ll explore the definition of power in sports science and understand why professional athletes dedicate their off-season to becoming stronger and more powerful. Sources from reputable experts in sports science and training will be cited to provide a well-rounded perspective.

The Essence of Power

Power, as defined in sports science, is the product of strength and time. In simpler terms, it represents an individual’s capacity to rapidly express strength or force. When an athlete possesses superior power, they can exert force with incredible speed, giving them a competitive edge in various sports. This is why elite athletes focus on cultivating power during their off-season, as it directly translates to enhanced performance on the field.

According to renowned sports scientist Dr. John Cronin, power is a crucial aspect of athleticism and can be quantified by measuring the rate of force development (RFD). He explains that the higher the RFD, the quicker an athlete can generate force, leading to improved speed and agility. This emphasizes the importance of power training in an athlete’s regimen.

The Link Between Strength, Power, and Speed

The relationship between strength, power, and speed is interconnected. Imagine a high-performance sports car: the engine represents strength, the powertrain symbolizes power, and the resulting speed is the product of both. In this analogy, an athlete’s strength is the foundation, power is the engine, and speed is the end result.

To achieve elite speed, athletes must focus on strengthening their muscles and developing neuromuscular “fast twitch” capabilities. Fast-twitch muscles contract rapidly and are essential for explosive movements and bursts of speed. Dr. Andy Galpin, an exercise physiologist, highlights the role of strength training in developing these fast-twitch muscle fibers, stating that it’s a key aspect of maximizing athletic performance.

The Importance of High-Quality Strength Training

Contrary to popular belief, strength training is not solely about building muscles or working out for aesthetic purposes. It is about purposeful and structured training that translates to enhanced athletic performance. This is akin to upgrading a car engine to an F1 engine – the performance improvement is undeniable.

Reputable strength and conditioning coach, Erica Suter, emphasizes that athletes should focus on strength training that aligns with their specific sport and performance goals. A well-designed strength program should incorporate exercises and workout structures that directly contribute to speed and power development.

Sample Workout for Speed Development

At Virginia Beach Select Lacrosse, the emphasis lies in designing workouts that seamlessly transfer to the field. Such workouts encompass various components, including athleticism drills and mobility exercises, all while prioritizing speed enhancement.

An effective speed development workout for lacrosse athletes would involve a combination of strength exercises, plyometrics, and explosive movements. It could include exercises like squats, deadlifts, box jumps, and power cleans, all of which have been proven to contribute to power and speed improvements in athletes.


Power & Strength for Speed Development


In the pursuit of becoming an agile athlete, power and strength development stand as indispensable pillars. Power, which is the expression of strength at incredible speed, is the key to unlocking explosive changes of direction, swift first steps, and powerful strides. Without dedicated efforts to strengthen muscles and develop fast-twitch capabilities, an athlete’s potential for elite speed will remain untapped.

Just as an F1 car requires an F1 engine, athletes seeking to reach the pinnacle of their performance must engage in high-quality strength training. Purposeful and sport-specific workouts are vital to translate strength gains into real speed improvements on the field. By integrating these training principles, athletes can unleash their inner agile athlete and take their game to the next level.

  • Dr. John Cronin: “Applied Sports Science Series: Power Development,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
  • Dr. Andy Galpin: “Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training,” Human Kinetics.
  • Erica Suter: “Strength Training for Speed: Is It Necessary?” Breaking Muscle.
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA): “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,” Human Kinetics.