Team Sport Athletes Sprint Not Jog

Team Sport Athletes Sprint.  No jogging.  Run or Sprint

“Back in the day”; when I was running track in college the “standard procedure” for training was to build strength and power ON TOP OF endurance for ALL runners.  I had never heard of tempo running or high intensity interval training.  I was a sprinter.  I was aware of the “high intensity” thing (For high school track that just meant that workouts were designed so that, in general, you ran until you dropped or threw up … or both).

My track coach used to circle us up before practice.  He would lift his eyes over his clipboard, let his glasses drop down his nose for dramatic effect, and ask, with the sweetest of smiles, “Who wants to throw up today?”

I believe he was joking because I absolutely never saw ANYBODY raise their hand for that one.

However, I  remember going to speak to the COLLEGE track coach my first week of school before the season in the fall (“off season workouts” is what I believe they called it) where I was about to come become “educated” so to speak on procedure and workouts.  The big surprise came when I was told that “we had two workouts a day”.

(Do you think I said, “Yaaaay!!!” …?  I really love to workout and run but emphatically “No, I did not say “Yay!!!”)

The “why” I did not say “yay!!!” is coming up …

“The whole team runs five miles in the morning and then we work on our individual event at practice in the afternoon.”

Gurgle!!!  (Sound of my stomach flipping around.) “But uh …”  I smiled as I leaned forward over his desk as politely as I could.  “I’m a sprinter.”  My mouth gaped a bit; incredulous; I mean I had very painfully gotten SOMEWHAT accustomed to the run until you drop or throw up thing but the thought of getting up at 5 o’clock in the cold (this was in Wisconsin by the way; the frozen north) and running five miles was uh … shall we say … “distasteful;” not to mention dangerous.  I mean there was ice and snow and wind and (for all I knew): polar bears and wolves.

I smiled again.  Very politely. “I don’t run distance.”  I tried a different tactic; one that I hoped was based on science.  “Sprinters don’t run distance.”

“You do now.  Five miles every morning,”  he nodded and stood up from his chair.  “Every event needs an endurance base.  We build on a base of endurance.”

I tried again.  “I’m a sprinter.  Two hundred meters is my best race.”

“Five miles.”  He didn’t even turn around.


That was about a hundred and fifty years ago and times and information have changed and not just for track athletes but for team sport athletes as well and; here was the good news (although in hindsight).

I was right!!!  Sprinters DON’T run distance so …

… if you want to run fast; DO NOT JOG!!!

Why?  Pretty simple actually.  You don’t jog in team sports except to get off the field and technically even then you should probably walk or run.

Team Sport Athletes Sprint Not Jog

Athletes DO NOT jog in team sports.  Baseball players and golfers don’t go into the batter’s box or up to the tee with hockey sticks.  It is not an appropriate or applicable tool.

Therefore … don’t use it.  Don’t train to jog.  Train to be fast!!!

If you are a team sport athlete, you need to condition your body to be explosive; both straight ahead and laterally.  Most importantly, you need to teach your body to ACCELERATE; reach top speeds quickly, and change direction; in order to beat defenders (it is called “separation”) or; as a defensive player … to be able to “recover” from mistakes.

No NFL team is sending scouts to the Boston Marathon to look for draft picks for wide receiver and defensive back positions among the multitudes who are running the (is it 26 miles?)

LSD; i.e. Long Slow Distance work does NOT contribute to the skills or conditioning necessary for team sports athletes.  DO NOT JOG.  Here’s why:

Jogging does NOT replicate the motor patterns used in sprinting.

Jogging does NOT even CONDITION an athlete as well as HIIT; i.e. High Intensity Interval Training.

Sprinting; i.e. High Intensity Interval Training is better for building both aerobic and well as anaerobic capacities.

Jogging DOES however promote injury.

(Injury is not a good thing.  I don’t think we want to sign up for that.)

Form first.  Learn proper sprinting mechanics.

First and foremost; Learn the proper mechanics utilized in sprinting (more on this in later articles) and  “Oh and by the way”, don’t think that they’re easy.  THEY’RE NOT!!!

Proper sprinting mechanics involve very DETAILED and DIFFICULT coordination skills.

In all the years I have done sprinting clinics I have NEVER seen a high school athlete sprint correctly without proper instruction.

Take the time to learn and get past the myths about running and running fast.

The first great myth for younger athletes is that “either you’re fast or you’re not.”

The second myth is that you “fight the race” and run HARD!!! Stay in a “drive” position; lean forward and go as hard as you can!!!

I can remember my coach SCREAMING, “Drive!!!  Drive!!!  Faster!!!  Faster!!!  Puuuuush!!!”

Honk honk!!!  ALL  … NOT TRUE!

Truth #1.  Virtually every athlete can learn how to be faster than they are.

Truth #2.  Fighting the race slows an athlete down.  Correct intelligently applied mechanics make an athlete fast.

Do it right. Employ a professional to teach you or your athletes; sons or daughters proper running and sprinting mechanics.  It is well worth the education.

It will vastly improve your/your athletes’ “game”.

In fact, in my opinion, an athlete is literally stealing the most important; the most “game changing” element from his OWN game if he does not learn how to be as fast as he/she can.

Virtually every athlete; very ESPECIALLY YOUNGSTERS can and should learn how to run (and especially learn how to run FAST) correctly at a young age.  Speed is the single most important “weapon” in an athlete’s tool bag.  It makes every single individual athlete better.  It wins games for teams.  It is acceleration; the “first step to the ball, the goal, the basket, the base …  It is the ”recovery step” for defenders.

The saying (and rightfully so …) is that SPEED KILLS!!! so …


Bad running mechanics is hard to UN …learn; especially as an athlete gets older.  Learn how to CORRECTLY run fast when you’re young and then …


If you’re a parent get “speed games”; encourage them to play running games such as tag, capture the flag, etc. and even with very small children, teach them correct mechanics.

This is not just intellect.  When you run fast you literally affect the function and development of muscle fibers.  Every individual is born with a percentage of both; fast and slow twitch muscle fiber and … INTERMEDIATE muscle fibers.

Sprinting coach legend Charlie Francis and (probably the current top strength and conditioning coach in the country) Mike Boyle both feel that HOW YOU TRAIN literally TRAINS that intermediate muscle fiber.  This means in essence that if you train for speed you train or more correctly ADAPT those intermediate fibers to be fast and if you train slow you train those intermediate fibers to be slow.  Boyle says, for example, that if you want your team sport athlete to be slow; have him run cross-country.

In addition to mental toughness training and peak performance coaching I do strength and conditioning and speed but both these guys are smarter than me, so I listen.

High Intensity Interval Training is simply sprinting hard with work to rest ratios which are adapted according to the needs of your specific sport.

Soccer, for example with its “on/off” timing might benefit from fifteen seconds of running followed by fifteen seconds of rest.   American football might be closer to ten seconds of work followed by a longer rest period; thirty seconds to as long as a minute or even a minute and a half of rest.

When an athlete is not sprinting he/she should practiceTEMPO RUNNING; (think of running at a 60 – 70 percent effort level).  This promotes sprinting mechanics and conditioning.

Jogging does nothing for speed work.

Learn how to run.  Run fast.  Run fast all the time.

The process works when we work the process.

“If you are struggling with a performance issue that just isn’t responding to instruction and hard work, then call me now and let’s fix it. I’ve got a systematic process that takes care of any interference you have to your ultimate performance potential that you have seen short bursts of…and want to see it show up consistently! Call me or email me right now while you’re thinking of it!”




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