The Science of Speed Technique Training From Master Coach Phil Campbell.
Sport performance improves with speed. Contrary to popular belief, speed can be taught and trained. Phil Campbell has made it his life's work on showing how. Let's explore.
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Phil Campbell has a lifetime experience in researching best practices and creating new and innovative ways to achieve award winning levels of performance. Over 20 000 athletes have been coached by Phil in his career. As a speed technique coach, athletes attending his 2 day camps have achieved superior levels of performance. Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is just one of many athletes who have benefitted from Coach Campbell’s services.
At 68 years old, Coach is an inspiration and testimonial to the power of speed training, is still very active in delivering the HOW on one of sports most attractive skills.
The Physical Movement sat down with Phil recently to discuss speed technique training, the simplicity and importance of it, and how coaches and parents can teach their young athletes to get faster.
The below has been edited from our conversation.
Full disclosure: I have a personal bias towards Phil. He is knowledgeable, passionate, experienced and one of coaching’s treasures. I am a big fan and believer that every one of us needs to apply at least a little of Phil’s knowledge. His teachings are a unique blend of science and experience. The creation and promotion of Sprint 8, a 30 year old program has completely changed the lives of thousands of people including yours truly. He is a real treat. We will cover Sprint 8 in part 2 of this article next week.
In 1970 as an 18 year old college football player, as Phil Campbell was entering in freshman season, he was told to stop lifting weights because it was going to make him muscle bound. Also not to stretch because it was going to elongate his muscles and slow him down, and practice running the mile in 7 minutes or less. He stopped running sprints, did what was asked, and watched his times get slower and slower.
With that started a 51 year (and counting) journey in building up knowledge and coaching skills around speed technique training.
Phil Campbell has made it his life’s work to teach speed technique to athletes and non athletes alike. His revolutionary anti-aging workout program called Sprint 8 is as close to a super medicine that exists. This week we focus on speed technique.
What do NFL Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Jerry Rice have in common other than being the best at their craft? They hired Phil Campbell to coach speed technique to their sons.
The above story from 1970 illustrates how far the bar has moved around training knowledge in a relatively short time. In 1972, the University of Nebraska were the first school to create a salaried position for strength coach Boyd Epley. That marked the beginning of a new era. "It was like I was going down a one way street and everyone else was going the wrong way. It was always a battle. Many coaches fought me," reflected Coach Epley. "Now, almost all the coaches are going the same way on that one way street”. Nebraska started to dominate on the field as a result, and a new course in performance training had begun.
In fact, Phil refers to his college instructions on training as a reminder of not only relying only on the science of today. His view is 50% of science consistently changes around training, and 50 % stays common over time.
Fast forward to today, Coach Campbell believes coaches are getting smarter with applying the knowledge developed over the years. Speed technique training not only improves speed on the field, but also is a conditioning tool.
Coach Campbell’s work brings together science and training protocol for optimal results.
It is no longer acceptable to run football long distances if we want performance to improve on the field. In baseball, old school thinking had pitchers do long distance running to improve conditioning. Existing literature tells us that this is not the best way to improve pitching performance. https://tinyurl.com/y5xnrs2f
Sports like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby, tennis, track & field, lacrosse all require some level of short explosive movements. These movements are improved through speed technique training. Usually over 20 yards.
Anecdotal evidence can be found on any playing field when observing young athletes run, they all run different. Some fast, some slow. Some upright, some hunched over. Arms in different positions, different parts of the foot making contact on the ground and so on.
Due to numerous requests from coaches to learn his speed technique teaching methods, Coach Campbell created the specialty certification for speed technique and his 2019 book serves as the textbook. This book is for athletes and parents as well as coaches. *Subscribers to The Physical Movement can receive a complimentary copy of Phil’s book. Details below.
Coach Campbell’s premise is this : the issue is that while many athletes train hard to improve strength, they are not improving their speed. What many programs are implementing is advanced strength training without speed technique training. According to Coach, conditioning boot camp focusing on ground based functional training will not magically improve speed, unless technique is developed over time.
Phil explains and shows in his book how to train the brain to deliver the signals to the body that will improve the efficiency of movement.
Coach Campbell is also a proponent of athletes learning how to become speed coaches for themselves so they can make corrections during training and practice. This will allow the athlete to constantly improve via practice at higher speeds.
Training the young athlete:
Effective speed training in the young adolescent athlete includes understanding that young people grow at different rates. Performance can be inconsistent when the body changes, but understanding the concepts of speed technique training can be refined and practiced over time. When the body growth spurts slow down, and strength built, then performance starts to accelerate.
Effective speed training usually only works well when the athletes is ready to be coached. Many mature faster than others in this area, with female athletes leading the way with quicker maturity. Coach Campbell often discusses this with athletes, coaches and parents prior to participating in his speed clinics.
The advanced athlete and speed technique training:
Many of Coach’s athletes come to him later in their teenage years either in college sports on the verge. Their bodies have developed and improved through weight room work, but their speed has not improved as much. This is where going through the basics around warm up, speed drills for upper and lower body and practice becomes critical.
Phil’s speed training clinics cover these components as well as technique for a quick start, drive phase vs fly phase, lateral speed development as well as functional sport specific speed development
Introducing Sprint 8.
The brain nervous system connection is also reinforced in Phil’s Sprint 8 conditioning program. Sprint 8 for athletes recruits all 3 muscle fiber types, conditions the anaerobic and aerobic processes and is time efficient.
Sprint 8 can be practiced on the field, in the classroom or on your favorite piece of cardio equipment.
Part 2 of this article next week will have Coach Campbell take us through the specifics and benefits of Sprint 8 for athletes and non-athletes alike.
Great article. Phil is a superstar! That first video is with now Cal Poly freshman Defensive End Hudson Walker, summer before his senior year of high school who went on to the California All State team and had D1 offers from UCLA, CAL, and U of San Diego. It isn’t normal for 6’4” D Ends to chase down running backs, block PATs and punts but Hudson did it with regularity thanks to Phil’s training.