“If an athlete improves their speed and abilities without improving their technique, relaxation, flexibility, skill, posture and coordination you will put more stress on the organism and force greater periods of rest and regeneration due to muscular damage from high velocities at poor technical efficiency (possibly culminating in illness or injury).” Tony Veney
As a high school Track & Field coach I am constantly struggling with my fellow coaches who subscribe to the theory of , ‘That’s just the way we’ve always done it’. They watch across the track at the sprinters and think ‘They should be running more’ or ‘They need to get IN SHAPE’.
That’s the part that really kills me; In shape for what? In shape for submaximal runs with poor posture and biomechanics? Running 6×300 meters at 75% effort will result in an athlete who can perform 6x300m at 75% but how on earth do these coaches think that will result in an improved 100 or 200 meter time?
The SAID Principle is the basis of sport specific training. While it is not a new idea many in the profession of developing our young athletes have forgotten the principle, to the detriment of the athlete.
SAID is an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.
The principle states: When the body is subjected to stresses and overloads of varying intensities, it will gradually adapt over time to overcome whatever demands are placed on it.
So if the demands we are placing on the body are slow, poorly executed submaximal runs, the athlete will improve ONLY their performance of slow, poorly executed submaximal runs! As a coach this frustrates me. Greatly. On a daily basis. It’s like claiming the earth is flat!
According to the universally accepted SAID principle we should be training our speed and power athletes with short burst of speed and power, gradually increasing the duration of the exertion when the body has adapted to functioning at that speed and intensity. You have to be fast at 10 meters in order to be fast through 20 meters. You have to be fast at 20 meters in order to be fast through 30 meters, etc…
I often tell the athletes I work with that they will be tired after practice; No matter if they gave their all or cut corners. If you are going to be there putting in the work (usually in the rain), making yourself tired, why wouldn’t you give it your all so that you can reap the benefits of your fatigue? As coaches we should follow the same philosophy; Give it your all and work smart, not just hard.