Transfer, Specificity, and Support


A number of people believe that after step 3, sprinting seems to be the only way to get people faster. Some believe that exercises in the weight room transfers to the track. Research has found that very little activities transfer or correlate to maximal velocity. Perhaps transferring is the wrong area, as drills seem not to have that direct ability as well. Like they say, sometimes the Drill DVD All-Star can’t put it together, but I do still do drills and plyometrics when needed. I think transfer and specificity and support are all individual, and with so many different athletes we are going to see very little neat fixes. My problem with the current definitions is that they are great for Bondarchuk but in the track world we are living in the fast lane, and the hammer is not going to be our guiding light. Sprinters need clarity, not complexity. I classify training a bit differently, and feel that we should look at some things with new eyes.

Sprint Drills- I don’t know if drills work or not, but I find them to be more than technique options. Drills or in some circles, sprint exercises are locomotive variations that seems to have relationships to sprinting. The problem is that the forces and velocities are not even close to actual sprinting. Perhaps the generality but closeness is actually idea, as the differences allow for different overloads. I find that a good background in drills allows athletes to make more gross adjustments to posture and timing when they have the coordination from learning to do things recently. I call this wringing out the sponge, meaning to absorb specific skills in sprinting, a good based of motor skills allows one to learn better. With sprint drills we are learning to learn. On the other hand, Tellez, on of the greatest teachers, never used drills but had a lot of longer technique runs.

Plyometrics- Sometimes they seem to help, sometimes they seem to hurt, sometimes nothing. Plyos are not necessary and should be given to see who a responder and non-responder is. I do think for injury prevention everyone should do some light stiffness work for the prevention of lower limb problems. Jumping on a box seems to be the constant flavor of choice but I use that 2% of the time, because one needs to be in the air to get much of eccentric force to redirect the body. Standing in place and jumping on a box isn’t going to provide much overload not matter how much effort one puts in. A balance between double leg power and single leg stiffness and bounding does seem to show diagnostically what needs to be addressed.

Strength Training- It’s easier to master most weight exercises than track effects. Mastery helps not only with coordination generally, but muscle recruitment and protection from injured areas allows for safe overload. The problem is that keeping people healthy becomes so conservative that the loads are not preparing for the actual events. Sprinters need maximal speed and sufficient strength. In order to get faster, weights should as little as needed, not it’s surprising how heavy that is to the weak is wonderful crowd and how light it is to the powerlifting is the path to enlightenment.

Olympic Lifts- I think 1.5 on the clean and 1.0 on the snatch is a gold standard for most athletes, and anything else is nice to have but I wouldn’t say that more is more. So long as the numbers fall into place with good loading schemes let the weights rise, but when they hit a ceiling don’t fight it. I think Boo is right that they are great harmonizers of the body, and for some reason, I find them to be great ways to develop work capacity for the nervous system without breaking down the joints like plyos do. Also they seem to keep athletes more mobile than the power lifts. Like strength training they are support exercises to the physiology, not to specific muscles or movements.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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