Speed and Agility with the Godfather of Speed, Lee Taft

Speed and Agility with the Godfather of Speed, Lee Taft

Posted on Tuesday 10th April 2018

How to train speed and agility movements within a high pressured and highly competitive environment.  Here, Coach Will shares his insights from a recent training course with Speed and Agility Legend, Lee Taft.

To watch an athlete who truly has learned to move well on the court/field is something beautiful. As a Coach I always find myself rewinding the video to see what angles the athlete uses or how low the athlete gets in order to slice through the defense and get where he/she needs to go. However, can these movements that take place in a fraction of a second truly be taught to an athlete who may may be developing physically and mentally? The answer is most definitley yes. However, there needs to be a well thought out continuum on how to progress and regress an athlete in order to coach these movements into becoming second nature.

Last year I was fortunate enough to meet with a very experienced coach by the name of Lee Taft. What I admire about Lee is he has been coaching all levels of athletes for well over 20 years. Too often I have met top level athlete coaches who forgot what kind of heavy duty hands on work goes into coaching the developing athlete.  However,   I believe that when working with younger athletes, being able to develop their skills so that they have the opportunity to perform on the big stage, is where a truly skillful coach can operate themselves from the rest.

Just as in resistance training, we have progressions and regressions to teach different movements in order to get our clients and athletes stronger. The same concept should apply to teaching movements such as acceleration, deceleration, reaccelation, cutting, retreating etc. After meeting Lee, he has given me a great framework to to build a solid Long Term Plan for an athlete.

The Three Tiers of Movement Progression

When performing a new movement, the end goal for the coach is for the athlete to be able to perform the movement without thinking within a high pressured and competitive environment. The following steps will allow this particular skill to transfer over into a game situation.

1.) The athlete performs the movement knowing what he is doing and which way to go, but doesn’t know when.

Example: “Bill, I want you to run straight ahead with the forward lean like we talked about when I say GO.”

2.) The athlete knows what they are doing, but does not know which way or when? 

Example: “Bill, see the two cones next to you? When I point at one of them I need you to react, take one shuffle get over there and shuffle back into the middle.”

3.) The athlete doesn’t know which way he is going, he doesn’t know exactly which movement he is doing (although he knows the possibilities) and he doesn’t know when he is going, multiple movements and repetitions. 

Example: “Bill, there’s two cones to the right and left of you and two cones in front of you. If I point to the ones next to you shuffle and come back into the middle, if I point to the ones in front of you, you are going to sprint, touch the cone and sprint back into the middle.”

Obviously, the athlete is not going to improve in a linear fashion forever. However, having a model like this makes it easier to make sure that the athlete is on the right track when coaching multiple movements so that we see the best results when it really matters.

Hope this helps everyone understand a little more about what we do with all of our athletes!

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