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This article is guest blogged by Ryan Banta, an assistant coach at the Ladue/St. Louis Lightning Track; Feld club.
To view all his articles on this Blog click here .
It’s my birthday, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to give you guys a small snippet of the upcoming book The Sprinters Compendium. The information below comes from Chapter 13 section 3 “Interviews with Athletes and Coaches about Training Plans for Sprinters”
In the interview section of each chapter, I ask a series of questions about different topics that go with the theme of the chapter.
The information I have provided below comes from just one question on tapering sprinters. I hope you enjoy and learn something from this small preview. The book is currently over 350 pages (will be 500 pages) of information, thoughts, stories, and ideas about training sprinters. I have spent most of the summer editing and removing duplicate information. I would love to hear your feedback.
What Tapering Strategies do you Use to Bring your Speed Athletes to Peak Cycle?
We will use a similar style of setup as the Charlie Francis 10 Day Taper.Typically we have our last tune-up meet being two weeks before our national meet, which gives us the perfect amount of time in order to recover and get in one or two high-intensity sprinting and lifting workouts, 10 and 8 days before the big meet. After that, we will drop the lifting a week before the championship meet starts and everything sprinting wise turns into sub-maximal. Injuries are avoided when doing this, and meanwhile, it’s all about maintaining the CNS Stimulus that you have put in place. Less is more, and you want the athlete to be feeling fresh.
Another factor that goes into it is how many rounds will the athlete have to run? At the High School or Collegiate level, most do two or three or maybe even four events at a championship. The more rounds the fresher you want the athlete as long as he or she is good enough to get past the 1st round to raise the muscle tone that way. Otherwise, you may want to raise the muscle tone a little bit more leading up to the meet for less experienced or maybe not as talented athlete. A good way to do this is have the athlete perform a competition warmup, and some med ball throws, vertical jumps or short block starts, This primes the CNS and raises or maintains a fairly higher muscle tone.
FINALLY, finally, finally! A question that I feel I can give some specifics and give something that may actually help a high school coach.
So this peaking tip only applies if you have a hurdler who can 3 step all 10 hurdles. I know many people say that anyone can 3 steps. Well, at 65 y.o. and way more in shape for the pub than the 110hh, I have to admit that I can’t 3 step 10 hurdles. The problem is I can beat some of my JV girl hurdlers. I do my best with them, but this just isn’t going to help them.
I have to admit that I understand why this should work, and I’ve seen it work, but I’m still amazed when it happens. It’s like I’m a pimply faced teen getting his first kiss. Yes, I’m pretty excited every time! So here is the specific that you can apply. About 2.5 weeks before the KEY meet I begin to implement the over speed or speed assisted training for the nervous system. When I heard that Petrovsky used this with Borzov, I was all ears. I really like having the kids towed by a bungee, but a gradual downhill works as well. Obviously, I begin to give more rest and increase the intensity. Specifics depend on the other events the kids may be in. Anyways, once I start the speed assisted component, I begin to target the touchdown times. Just to be sure we are on the same page, I time every time an athlete’s lead leg touches down off of the hurdle. I pick a goal time of 3 to 5-tenths of a second faster than the athlete has been running and then move the hurdles in to FORCH the athlete to establish a new rhythm to meet the goal time. I may move the hurdle up to a full meter, but usually start about 2.5 shoe lengths in. When the athlete can hit the goal touchdown times for 3 hurdles, I add a 4th and a 5th. Yes, one is more pure speed, and the other adds a bit of hurdle endurance. Plan for it. When the athlete can hit the touch times for five hurdles, I move the spacing out a bit. Remember the 1st hurdle is on its’ mark. If the 2nd is moved in two shoes, the 3rd must be moved in four shoes, etc. to keep the spacing consistent. I forgot to mention that, especially with boys, I lower the hurdle 3″ when we are working to get OFF the hurdle. They can run the higher height, but lowering the hurdle gives them the confidence to focus on getting their lead leg down off the hurdle. The nervous system doesn’t know the difference; it just fires at a higher rate of speed.
When the athlete can hit the touchdown times through five hurdles in practice, they are ready to hit those times in a meet through the full 10 hurdles. I still don’t totally believe this, but it works over and over. More on this later.
The other Overspeed training trick I use, I learned from Vince Bingham while I was at MoBap. Move the hurdle height down one notch but leave them at full spacing. BUT, instead of having the kids start form eight steps to the 1st hurdle, move them back to ten steps and eventually you might experiment with 12 steps. I have NO charts for this workout, but it certainly forces the kid to increase their rhythm. If you try this, I will take some time to establish where to start to hit the first hurdle in rhythm. This is very scary for the athlete. When they hit the 1st hurdle on stride, then add a 2nd or 3rd and so forth.
Proof in the pudding!: Going back years ago, I had a girl running 15.3’s. We were hoping to get her to State, so we set her training up to peak at Sectionals. We were looking at 14.8. At Sectionals, she ran 14.8 and set a school record. At state, she matched her time and finished 2nd and her soph. teammate took 3rd. The girl who beat them broke the state record. I know these times a pedestrian these days, but for us it was similar to Roger Bannister back in the day. 2 years later the soph was a Sr. She had run 15.1, and we set the touchdown times for 14.70’s at State. She had a Broken bone in her arch (we didn’t realize it at the time) but ran 14.71 in the prelims at State. New state record back then. She just took the prelims easy so as to protect the foot. In the finals, she was ready to blow it open when a storm front came in and was blowing a gale straight into the hurdler’s faces. She only ran low 15’s, but she won by a full ½ sec. Could have been really fast. Anyways, I got back to coaching hurdles at MoBap, used this peaking system with Nikkie Holder. She was an 18-year-old freshman with good technique. We had to borrow a local high school track for 1 hr. after the hs kids finished and had a weight room in a Janitor’s closet. Anyways, she was running low 14.1’s going into the peaking series. At NAIA Nationals she PR’ed in prelims, semi’s and hit our practice target of 13.50.
About the Author
Ryan Banta is an assistant coach at the Ladue/St. Louis Lightning Track & Feld club, where the club has assisted athletes in achieving 6 national titles, 31 All American performances, and 61 national qualifiers. He has earned a USATF level II certification in sprints, hurdles, relays, and endurance as well as a USTFCCCA track and field technical coaching certification.
He has a new book coming out titled Sprinter’s Compendium, a “one stop shop” for theory and practical information for any coach looking for real world strategies to improve sprint training for any type of athlete. Look for it soon!