Training Definitions

In order to get the most out of this section, a number of definitions must be understood.

  1. Speed is the distance covered divided by the time it takes to cover that distance. In sports such as swimming or running, the speed is covered in a straight line. However, speed for a football, basketball, netball or water polo player may mean changing direction while moving. Thus, a number of types of speed training need to be defined:
  1. Maximum speed is the highest speed an aging athlete can reach. This normally occurs three to five seconds after the start of a race from a stationary position.
  2. Acceleration speed in sports such as team sports or tennis is crucial. These are sports where short sprints are done but maximum speed may not be reached. The ability to get into a space or take a gap are more important in team sports than maximum speed.
  3. Speed endurance is the ability to sustain maximum speed or near maximum speed and to withstand the effects of fatigue. Events longer than five seconds in duration (e.g. 100-400m runs, 25-100m swims), team (e.g. team sports) or individual (e.g. tennis, squash, badminton) sports where recovery between sprints isn’t long enough to recover all require high levels of speed endurance.
  4. Change of direction speed is crucial in most team and racquet sports. The ability to evade or chase an opponent in team sports, or change directions quickly in racquet sports requires agility as well as acceleration speed.

The following table suggests which of the types of speed are important for which sports. The higher the number, the more important that type of training is.

Sport Maximum Speed Acceleration Speed Speed Endurance Change of Direction Speed
Tennis, Squash, Badminton 1 3 2 3
Basketball, Netball, Touch 1 3 3 3
Soccer, Rugby, Rugby League, Australian Rules 3 3 3 3
Swimming, Cycling, Running 3 2 3 NA

The following table summarises the training program variables for developing maximum speed, acceleration, speed endurance and change of direction speed in aging team playing athletes.

Variable Maximum speed Acceleration speed Speed endurance Change of direction speed
Intensity (%) 95-105 100 95-100 100
Interval length (seconds) 2-5 2-5 2-5 10-60 2-5
Rest between intervals Complete
(2-3 mins)
(2-3 mins)
30-90 secs 3-8 mins Complete
(2-3 mins)
Number of intervals 6-12 6-12 3-10 6-12
Start method Flying Stationary or slow walk Not applicable Various but sport-specific
Frequency (times per week) 2 2-3 2-3 2-3
Base qualities needed Aerobic and power Strength and aerobic Speed and aerobic Speed and aerobic