Thoughts on Speed Training from Stephan Widmer


Stephan is an outstanding sprint coach. He is the Head Coach of the Queensland State Swimming Centre in Brisbane, Australia.He coaches sprint swimmers, but the more I get to know him I amconvinced he could coach speed in any discipline. Here are some ideasthat he presented on speed development at the ASCA Convention last weekin San Diego. It is interesting to note that he is a graduate of the Federal Technical Institute in Zürich Switzerland.He has an excellent foundation in sport science, but also has thepractical foundation of being of being a top class swimmer and agraduate of a program that required proficiency in at least ten sports(very much like our traditional Physical education majors used to be inthe states). I think regardless of the sport you will find these ideasto be common sense and useful.

Coach must have a passion for speed and power

Speed improves through skill

Attention to detail is necessary

Stresses to his swimmer – How good is your worst repetition

3R’s – Rhythm, Range and Relaxation

High Level of concentration necessary and less space for error

Constant flow of energy and body parts

Specific training and race modeling necessary for sprint events (Could not help but think of Gary Winckler’s race models here)

Learn from TES (Top End Speed)

Training needs to be distance specific in terms of Top End Speed (TES), Front End Speed (FES) and Back End Speed (BES)

What is Back End Speed (BES) training without Front End (FES) stimulation?

Must account for difference between genders

Startwith Speed – Early in the season the swimmers are fresh, this is aperfect time for speed. Good time to feel speed and teach speed.

Bewareof training speed into the athlete versus training speed out of theathlete (This really hit home with me, especially in the middledistance and distance events where we have people thinking speedthrough endurance)

Speed demands high a skill level and fast execution of precise movements

Train different speed zones

Energy system readiness rather than energy system emphasis

Discuss entry

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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