Vince Anderson is a longtime sprint and hurdle coach at Tennessee and Texas AM who started his career as a volunteer under the legendary Tom Tellez at the University of Houston. Anderson’s success at the NCAA and world levels puts him among the elite of coaches. He now does consulting work and contributes a great deal of time to coaching education. He is well-known in the sprint and hurdle world for his training techniques in speed development.
Freelap USA: You often encourage athletes who are doing short block work to pretend they are running the 100m each time, so they don’t spin their wheels. What other simple and effective reminders can you share with coaches? Maybe two other tips that are short and sweet?
Vince Anderson: I try to teach athletes to be aware that every acceleration requires a concerted, intense effort from the first movement. So, the idea that every run should be patterned to initiate a 100-meter sprint, whether the rep is scripted as 10 meters, 25 meters, 50 meters, or otherwise, is important to the kinesthetic learning process. In the same vein, because one has to triple-extend fully from the support leg in order to push, acceleration shares a great deal of similarities with driving up an incline.The idea that every run should be patterned to initiate a 100m sprint, whether the rep is scripted as 10, 25, 50 meters, or otherwise, is important to the kinesthetic learning process. Click To Tweet
When athletes drive up an incline, they do it almost intuitively because they know they have to project their hip just a bit farther up the hill. So, we alternately contrast driving up an incline, then driving up the track. As a cue, I know the track is flat, and the athlete knows the track is flat, BUT THEY MUST DRIVE THE FLAT TRACK AS IF THEY WERE DRIVING UP A HILL.
As Mike Takaha once said, “Acceleration is an uphill activity.” Athletes can apply the same contrast effect to a lesser degree by contrasting resisted and non-resisted accelerations, taking care to keep excellent postural alignments during the resisted efforts.
Freelap USA: “Ins and outs” are special workouts that help athletes execute without making things excessively complex. How do athletes benefit from this type of workout, and why do you place so much emphasis on it during your maximum speed lecture?
Vince Anderson: This is a very subtle question. “Ins and outs” are helpful as an absolute speed development exercise. It is an advanced speed exercise requiring a good degree of sprint aptitude before we even introduce it in the middle stages of annual training.
“Ins and outs” are beneficial because the “ins,” which are maximal efforts, are scripted in 10-meter, 15-meter, or 20-meter chunks. This ensures that the maximal intensities are expressed in bouts of less than three seconds of duration at once, which is the longest a person can hold maximal velocities. By hitting max velocity on the “ins,” then freewheeling during the “outs,” an athlete can benefit from Vmax training while avoiding the pitfalls of “pace lock” or “movement stereotypes” (which can occur over the training season with heavy densities of maximal sprints over three seconds).
I place an emphasis on explaining this exercise because I usually see “ins and outs” deployed very poorly, even dysfunctionally. If a coach uses this exercise, they should understand it and teach it properly. The “outs” are not an occasion to lose posture and frequency. The “outs” inform the “ins” and require great coordination and concentration in the form of stepping down from above with equal frequency as the “ins” and lessened strike force into the ground (hence “freewheelin’”). Throttling back and forth between those two intensities with no postural degradation proves to instill an excellent training effect when done properly.
Editor’s Note: For more information on this and other methods to develop maximal speed, please visit the educational resource page of our store here.
Freelap USA: Some say that pushing during acceleration is a very delicate balance between patience and power. Just telling the athlete to push harder may work for some, but how do you see your acceleration ladder shape athletes outside of track and field? Lots of team sport athletes rush their steps to feel fast but lack horizontal displacement.
Vince Anderson: I would not describe it as a balance between patience and power. At least, that is not what I see on the ground. I would substitute concentration for patience. It is a balance between concentration and power.Like it or not, momentum plays a massive under-discussed role in speed and speed endurance. An athlete has to push a very long time to develop momentum functionally. Click To Tweet
Like it or not, momentum plays a massive under-discussed role in speed and speed endurance. One has to push a very long time to develop momentum functionally. Pushing is its own bountiful reward. For nearly all athletes, it is not a kinesthetic limitation. It is a temporal/conceptual limitation.
An athlete’s internal metronome, from years of spinning, is set artificially short as well as artificially quick. The first challenge, in my opinion, is to teach athletes to push through a larger range of motion (triple-extend off the support leg). Once some pushing rudiments are there, the second, more difficult, challenge is to get them to do that same pushing action for a longer period of time. Pushing for 11 seconds seems like an eternity when one attends only enough to push for one or two seconds, or not at all.
Therefore, once I have some stable rudiment of pushing, I attack the problem in terms of concentration and duration. We say, “Now that you can push, I want you to push much longer, by a factor of 5 or 10.” Video helps. Audible cues help. The tape drill helps (where I use my acceleration chart). After I get an athlete to stay on top of the run, I know we are making progress when they can stay on top of the run for 14-16 strides. That is possible to measure, over time and in a manner, with the acceleration chart.
Freelap USA: Running on the grass with flats won’t help an athlete win the next major meet, but it also won’t slow down a champion. How do you use submaximal sprinting in a program to develop maximal speed?
Vince Anderson: Submaximal efforts, by definition, cannot be speed-developing. If we are running submaximally, I prefer to set minimal intensity at 90% of a 400m goal pace from day 1. Roughly speaking, that means 400m PR plus 4 seconds. So, the slowest I train a 60.0 400-meter athlete is at a 64.0 pace. Now that does not have to mean a 64.0 400-meter run, although it certainly means that type of effort. But more functionally it means a 48.0 300m, a 32.0 200m, a 24.0 150m, a 16.0 100m, and so forth. So, those tempos reasonably relate to the performance.We never stray from the fundamental message: Always run with posture AND the scripted intensity. Click To Tweet
Here is the answer: At those tempos, we actively coach posture and stepping down from above, attempting to eliminate overstriding and other run kills. We never stray from the fundamental message: Always run with posture and the scripted intensity. With a sustained effort to train at reasonable tempos and retain maximal postures, some reinforcement is given to the skills we emphasize at Vmax. There is an overlap and a carryover by design. “Never coach against yourself,” is one of my mottos.
Freelap USA: Over-distance speed endurance for the 100m is a tricky and controversial topic. How do runs longer than the event help an athlete mature outside of conditioning?
Vince Anderson: I prefer to frame every training situation in terms of concentration coupled with specific intensity. We do a very small bit of speed endurance training. We rely heavily upon competitions to satisfy the specific speed endurance demands required. Assuming that a coach is righteous in training maximal speed properly, the main value of runs over race distance is that they train concentration and allow conscious rehearsal of the race model at race intensity.
That said, I never do training runs longer than 400 meters for 400m athletes. A 100m specialist might run carefully planned 120-, 140-, or 150-meter trials. A 200m specialist might run 220, 250, or an occasional 300 meters. Of course, nearly all of the Group 1 athletes I coach are equally trained at the 100m and 200m, even if they are better at one than the other. In my program, 400m athletes seldom cover reps farther than 350.
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