This article/blog is not exactly intended for those like to pretend to know something about which they have no clue about. Will this article make the wanna be's and fakers mad? Absolutely! I had no intentions of writing this but I had no choice. People/coaches/parents/athletes deserve to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about this ongoing money making phenomenon.
Lets start with the tools that magazines/stores/websites will sell. Agility Ladders, Agility Dots, Agility Dots, Speed Parachutes, High Speed Treadmills: All of these things you will see are advertised to make you have a quicker 1st step, make your 40 yard dash faster, help you cut on a dime, BLAH BLAH BLAH.. Now you have to ask yourself do any of these TOYS transfer to the playing field (your sport)? The answer would be a resounding NO! I was at a Strength & Conditioning Clinic where the the very 1st NFL Strength Coach Kim Wood,who coached for some innovative coach named Paul Brown, said "IF I DON'T SEE IT ON SUNDAY, I DON'T DO/USE IT ON TUESDAY." Basically saying if you don't see someone use it or mimic a movement/exercise in a NFL game on Sunday, why are you going to use that particular movement/exercise on Tuesday? Some trainers will try to argue that it will help this or that, they will throw out BUZZ words like TRIPLE EXTENSION, FUNCTIONAL TRAINING, ETC. Unfortunately, a lot of folks dont understand certain BUZZWORDS/JARGONS that are thrown at them because these trainers will use them to make themselves sound smart. That is VERY UNFORTUNATE but some are in the SAQ( speed, agility, quickness) game just for the MONEY! Yep, I said it, MONEY!
The amount of money spent on sports performance training is about 4.1 billion. 4.1 BILLION! What happens is some folks take a test, attend a seminar or 2 (barely), watch YouTube, then call themselves SPEED GURU'S. Some haven't taken a class in school at all, some haven't played a sport in their life! Yet these guys are trying to convince you that these products will work! Shame on them for misleading folks!
Honestly folks if you want to see what is used to enhance speed, all you have to do is go to a track practice and see what they use. You will not see any of those tools mentioned above. Now keep in mind that it depends on what type of practice you go to; high school, college, or if your lucky, watch the pros. Most high schools will have no problem letting you observe practice. Colleges on the other hand may or may not be so open to the idea. Some may, some may not (depending on the college). Being a former track athlete I never had a problem observing lots of colleges, granted I ran against alot of them so that helps (the whole who you know system). Also when you go to a track practice, depending on the level of athlete, you will see what REAL SPEED looks like. After all, Track has the fastest athletes on the planet. Not necessarily the quickest (lateral wise even though there some very quick sprinters) but definitely the fastest (linear wise).
This is where Mother Nature's speed tools kick in. Hills (going up, not down cause of increased injury factor), running in sand (natural resistance for short & long distance), weighted sled/harness (only 45lbs max for guys, 25lbs max for girls cause too much weight messes up your stride), & the harness(definitely a oldie but goodie). Now lets compare the two. Man Made tools cause bad habits. Mother Nature made is exactly what it is, Natural. Man Made tools, you have to look down on the ground (name a sport where you do that). With Mother Nature Made you stay in an athletic position (no matter the sport). Man Made does not transfer to your sport. Mother Nature transfers to any sport. The ladder causes you to look down and take short choppy steps & shorten your stride, if you want to do that, take up tap dancing. The Parachutes dont open up until your about 30-40 meters down the field unless you have a wind tunnel (I was training some kids & they said this to me, I didnt have to say a word). High Speed Treadmills DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT make you faster! There are these things called gravity & wind resistance a.k.a. aero-dynamics which exist in real sprinting. These things don't exist on the treadmill at all, again, unless you have a wind tunnel. Also, you dont go anywhere which means ground contact time is increased (you gotta make contact with the tread) which is a big NO-NO for gaining speed, your stride is shortened( you have to compensate for the tread and don't forget the danger of falling trying to keep up with the tread).
Ok I could go on and on bashing these useless tools but dont take my word for it, take the experts word for it, I did.
Charlie Francis-"The agility ladder is nothing more that a GLORIFIED HOP SCOTCH" He is 1 of the most brilliant minds in the history of track & field and athletic performance training. He also coached and mentored lots of NFL athletes and coaches.
Darryl Gatson-"People only use the agility ladder an other speed toys cause they have nothing else to do" He's the former Head Track & Field coach for several prominent Division I universities not to mention Olympic athletes and a Olympian himself (oh and my former coach).
Author Unknown-"The more speed toys a trainer pulls out the less competent he is" I cant remember If Charlie Francis or the coaching staff from former USA Track coaches said this. This statement was made to me via telephone.
So in conclusion, should I and others go by what is a money making scheme (see up above) and trust some guys who made up this stuff in a laboratory? Or should we listen to the brilliant minds of former Olympic coaches and athletes who continue to set world records? I think I'll take my chances on the brilliant minds.