Is Multi-Directional Speed Training Just for Athletes?

Do you give multi-directional speed training as much attention when training your young athletes, as you do to your 50-year-old client?

You should!

Every client and athlete desires the same thing, to improve skills that will translate into more complex demands or tasks.

Not only are coaches improving fitness qualities with exercises, but they are movement skill teachers too.

Skill development is learning how to perform a particular task smoothly and efficiently. Coordination is learning how to organize different skills smoothly and efficiently.

Does that sound like something both your young athletes and your 50 year old clients need?

Absolutely!

Learning a Skill

In a classroom, the teacher will only focus on one topic at a time or if you are taking an online course, you will focus on one module at a time. The same goes for the gym. If you want someone to improve on a skill, you need to teach one component at a time.

In order to get better at a skill, pick one component, stay focused on it, and master it.

So, what are the components of multi-directional speed?

I am glad you asked the perfect question….

The Skill of Multi-Directional Speed

Multi-directional speed involves the coordination and linking of skills that results in the capability to move in multiple directions, quickly, repeatability, and variably.

What is involved in multi-directional speed training?

I typed ‘multi-directional speed training definition’ into Google and the man, myth, and the legend Lee Taft popped up! Lee defines multi-directional speed training as “improved motor programs, purity of a pattern, and body control…multi-directional speed improves when the skill to move a certain way gets better.”

Wow, I could not have said it better myself, Lee!

Since we have listed out some good working definitions, we now need to dive deeper into breaking down the skills needs for improvement. Diving deeper involves creating a model that to help us organize and reduce multi-directional speed into teachable components which will apply to both your young athletes and your grey-haired working dad.

Multi-directional speed can be broken down into skills, abilities, and drills.

A SKILL is a remembered, stable movement pattern of a task that can be developed through training and coaching. Skills are gross movements that need to be efficient and mastered in order to be adaptable to greater challenges, changing demands, and conditions. The skills required in multi-directional speed are changing levels, changing directionality, transitioning directions, and out-right speed.

Let’s take one skill, changing levels, and break it down into abilities and drills…

The skill of changing levels refers to the ability to move up and down smoothly and efficiently, without breaking or bending. This skill is a blend of abilities. ABILITIES are the teachable components and measurable pieces of a skill that you have to be capable of doing, in order to successfully accomplish the skill.

For the skill of changing levels, you have to be capable of maintaining a stacked position (ribcage over hips to maintain mid-section pressures and control your center of gravity) as you move up and down and distribute forces efficiently. If you do not have the ability to maintain a stacked position, you will side bend, bend over, and lose time moving in multiple directions or transitioning directions. If you are not able to distribute forces throughout the body during directional changes, you will isolate forces to a specific area of the body, potentially causing wear and tear.

We can improve each ability through a drill. DRILLS are the coached, isolated, predictable, or unpredictable exercises that target a skill or ability. Drills can also be used to identify abilities that need to be further isolated and improved (the exercise becomes the test). A drill that may teach the ability of maintaining a stacked position is the Goblet Squat (see video below). A drill that may be used to test the attained skill of changing levels is the Cone Stack Drill (see video below).

Creating a model will help you categorize teachable components within the goal you are trying to accomplish. So, multi-directional speed is the goal and the categories used to choose drills (exercise selection) are the skills and abilities.

Let’s break down a Multi-Directional Model…

The following will breakdown Multi-directional Speed as a Coordination Category into teachable components.

Skills within Multi-directional speed include:

  • The skill of Changing Levels (Moving Up and Down without breaking or bending)

Abilities included within this skill:

(1) The ability to maintain a stacked position of the ribcage and pelvis while moving vertically.

(2) The ability to create positions that distribute forces and efficient movement.

An example of a drill that provides you the opportunity to teach the above abilities and skills include the Goblet Squat . An example of a drill that allows you to observe if the ability can be translated into the skill is the Cone Stack Drill .

  • The skill of Changing Directionality, specifically to decelerate and to absorb force 

Abilities included within this skill:

(1) The ability to receive force

(2) The ability to create stiffness

Drills that allow you to teach these abilities, thus skill include:

  1. Pauses to teach receiving force
  2. Drop & Catch Drills to teach creating stiffness quickly
  3. Fake Throws to teach creating stiffness quickly
  4. Bounce or Pulse to teach transitioning force through momentum, moving towards production
  • The skill of Changing Directionality, specifically to accelerate and produce force

Abilities included within this skill: (1)The ability to overcome, produce enough (relative), and redirect force (2)The ability to orient force application (move in a specific direction).

Drills that allow you to teach these abilities, thus skill include:

  1. Lateral Low Box Push
  2. Lateral Hurdle Hop : Low box and hurdle drills will help client or athlete feel the push from side to side and practice foot plant angles
  3. Quick Returns 
  • The skill of Transitioning Directions

Abilities included within this skill:

(1) The ability to rotate.

(2)The ability to create appropriate plant angles and make cuts through repositioning.

(3)The ability to spend less time in transitions and bridge the gap between receiving and producing force.

Types of transitions that you can create drills include the Hip Turn, Lateral push, Retreating, Cutting, and Curved running.

  • Speed: Lateral and Linear

Abilities included with this skill:

(1) The ability to accelerate

(2) The ability to produce max velocity

Drills that allow you to teach these abilities, thus improve upon the skill include the Lateral Shuffle and Linear Sprinting.

The Golden Nugget: How to Program

When building out a training session, choose 1 (maybe 2) teachable abilities and stay focused.

[Each] session is based around learning- Lee Taft

Each component of the training session should include drills that improve an ability (or abilities) of a skill. Think about building out a training session, just like teaching in a classroom:

Step 1: Teach the basic concept or lesson that you want to work on

Step 2: Show the individual what they are currently doing vs. what you want them to do

Step 3: Choose an exercise that allows them the best chance at successfully making the change

Often we don’t have to teach athletes, we just have to put them in positions to feel it and do it successfully- Justin Moore, Performance Coach

Step 4: Practice the lesson

Step 5: Connect the lesson to a bigger picture

When designing a training session, think about the following:

  • What lesson the lesson objective?
  • How am I going to teach that skill or ability?
  • How can I make the individual feel improvement?
  • How can I actually track improvement in a skill or ability?

Let’s see what this looks like…

Example Lateral Speed Skill Training Session

The training session is focused on 2 abilities:

(1) The ability to maintain a stacked position of the ribcage and pelvis while moving vertically

(2) The ability to create appropriate plant angles and make cuts through repositioning.

 Warm-up

A1) Supine Reach

A2) Assisted Squat 

Lesson Plan: Teach the basic concept or lesson that you want to work on, in very small doses with low exertion drills.

Explanation: The Supine Reach exercise will teach the concept of maintaining a stacked position with low exertion, and uses the ground and breathing to create a successful teaching position. The Assisted Squat gets the client or athlete in a standing position while performing the exact same task in a more challenging position while moving up and down.

Speed Drills

B1) Lateral Push Drills

B2) Lateral Sled Push

Lesson Plan: Show the individual what they are currently doing vs. what you want them to do. Choose an exercise that allows the best chance at successfully making the change. Practice the skill in small doses.

Explanation: The Lateral Push drills will teach and get the client or athlete to feel a lateral push. The Sled will add resistance for the client or athlete to push against, thus driving more effort and emphasis on the lateral push and plant angles; avoiding side bending and breaking.

Medicine Ball & Plyometric Drills

C1) Low Box Straddle Hop

C2) Lateral Fake Throw : Lateral Fake Throw to Throw

Lesson Plan: Choose an exercise that allows the client or athlete the best chance at successfully making the change. Practice an ability in small doses.

Explanation: The low box straddle hop is a great way to teach foot plant angles. The lateral throws are a great way to teach maintaining a stacked position in the lateral stance position and transitioning directions.

Resistance Exercise Drills

D1) Goblet Squat

D2) KB Hang Clean with Pause

E1) Lateral Step with Pause 

E2) Split Drop Thruster with Pause

Lesson Plan: Choose an exercise that allows the client or athlete the best chance at successfully making the change. Practice an ability in small doses. Connect the lesson to a bigger picture, thus connect the drill to the skill you are trying to improve.

Explanation: The intent of an exercise may not have to be communicated or directly taught if we put the athlete or client into good positions and choose equipment that increase the probability of proper execution. The goblet squat is an example of a load placement that will maximize the ability of maintaining a stacked position of the ribcage and hips during the squat exercise.

The KB Hang Clean with the pause is focused on the skill of change of levels and maintaining a stack position during the catch. Changing the Hang Clean to the Bounce will focus on transitioning directions, and a Quick Return will focus on overcoming and redirecting force.

The lateral step with pause will focus on the same concepts as the medicine ball activities. The thruster will highly focused on the stacked position, using the ball.

Conditioning Drills

Slide board Intervals

Lesson Plan: Practice an ability and emphasize the lesson to direct their attention towards.

Explanation: The intent of the slide board as a conditioning drill choice is to transition themselves from side to side, while stacking themselves over each leg. The coach can direct the individual to feel their foot as they push themselves from side to side.

Summary

Every client and athlete will benefit from a multi-directional speed model, if you can break it down into teachable components. Each improvement of a skill or ability will lead to greater movement capabilities in many directions. Intensities and drills may vary between your young athletes and your 50 year old clients, but each will benefit within the model. Within your sessions, your job is to teach, have the athlete feel improvement, and choose drills that will actually improve in a skill.

I hope this article was helpful. If you want to learn more about developing your own training system to improve your decision making and get better results for your clients, checkout the Strategy Course.

About the Author

Michelle Boland

  • Owner of Michelle Boland Training
  • Previous Strength and Conditioning Coach at Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  • Exercise Physiology and M.S. Strength and Conditioning at Springfield College
  • Follow on Instagram @dr.michelleboland
Get 3 days of my best coaching materials — for free.

3 DAY COACH'S CAMP:

Notebook with pencil icon Write better programs
Trophy icon Learn how to motivate clients outside the gym
Meditation icon My most popular resets for instantly improving movement quality

0 Comments

Leave Comment

Leave a Reply


Back to All Posts