I get asked for sport specific training a lot. I think we need to make a distinction between sport specific training for adult athletes and sport specific training for youth athletes. Meaning, what is beneficial to adult athletes isn’t necessarily needed for the youth.
A while ago, I watched a video on an active experiment where they put soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, through various physical tests.
One such test was to see how fast he ran in a straight line and then how fast he ran through an agility type course that mimicked movements he would do in soccer. They then put a Spanish track sprinter through the same two drills.
When they compared the times, the sprinter smoked Ronaldo in the linear speed test. Ronaldo beat the sprinter in the soccer agility course.
Your normal parent might see that and say, “That is what my kid needs, soccer specific speed, not necessarily being fast.”
That might be applicable for an adult athlete, but a still developing youth athlete that isn’t necessarily the case.
Adults have gone through all the developmental stages of an athlete. All the basic development has been made years ago and just built upon that layer upon layer over time. To get them where they need to be, you can be real specific in your training and focus on a specific agility movement for example.
Young athletes are still developing many different things that will ultimately turn into the athlete they end up being.
With a young athlete, you need to address the running mechanics first and change those in the athlete. Which means, even though your athlete might not run track, we need to make that athlete look like he/she does run track.
With youth athletes, typically if you can get that athlete to run linearly with power and speed, they are probably very good with their agility. That is the basic movement that needs to be addressed first. Lateral movement is not a basic movement, so once linear speed is addressed then move on to the lateral speed.
A young athlete that has better lateral speed than linear probably isn’t moving quickly with that lateral speed anyways. Ultimately, no matter what the sport is, your athlete has to progress out of that lateral into linear speed. If you are slow all the way around, this will just be a slow moving progression.
Understand, if your young athlete needs to be quicker than chances are he/she also needs to be faster. Thus, it boils down to you have to look like you are a track runner. Sprinters are typically mechanically efficient when running so your normal athlete has to be that in order for their speed to improve.
Get the basic movement of linear speed down and firing explosively and your athlete should be good to go.