Just read it again. It was right there in a major strength & conditioning publication of a leading organization. No justification at all. Written in a way that says “of course this is true.” By many reading, it was probably accepted as fact. Coaches just keep saying it and shaking their head in agreement. I did as well once.
Then I actually stopped and asked, WHY?
“most team sport athletes never reach top speed” It usually goes something like that or “top speed only occurs after 40m-60m” ,or “research shows most athletes never reach top speed” and so on…
Now I recognize that in most team sports acceleration events will happen more often. Many positions may not reach top speed. Still, let’s all stop and admit that in many sports that one moment where they go for a full speed run is often very important and can impact the game.
When Do Athletes Reach Full Speed?
So how long does it take to get to full speed? Not a lot of research here beyond track, but from data from testing thousands athletes of all levels and ages, I’d say it varies anywhere from 20 – over 40yds. For a lot of athletes though they are up to full speed in 30-40 yds. A lot of lineman are at full speed by 20yds. Younger, slower athletes may be at full speed before that.
Bottom line lets not take data from the worlds elite sprinters and apply it across the board to all athletes.
When are Max Velocity Mechanics Applied
Another assumption in this thought process is that you only use Max Velocity mechanics when you reach full speed. Again some of this is from track where the sprinters are accelerating up to that point, but accelerating (increasing speed still) doesn’t necessarily mean acceleration mechanics.
There are not a lot of athletes that can apply true acceleration mechanics past 20yds. In team sport athletes they may only get 3 – 5 steps of true acceleration mechanics and then start to transition.
Data from numerous sports that are tracking player movement, shows that while athletes might not be at full speed, there are lots of runs at 85% or greater. There are many runs over 15yds. What does that tell me, those athletes are transitioning or using some form of max velocity mechanics.
Should We Bother training Max Velocity Mechanics
So if the discussion is should we train max V mechanics, I think if you actually look at the sport, the athlete and the data you’ll see them using max velocity mechanics. Don’t just assume they don’t use them because you read a blog article or heard it on a podcast. Max velocity mechanics DO happen in lots of team sports.
I still think acceleration should be prioritized, but that doesn’t we can’t address max V. Let’s just stop justifying it by quoting old track research. I had regurgitated this myself in my early coaching days. I’m proof you can break this myth and really look at what your athletes are doing.