Our guest today is athletic movement specialist Lee Taft. Lee is one of the most highly respected game speed development coaches in the world, and has taught his methods around the world. Lee combines an extensive knowledge of sport movement and physical education means and brings this into the physical preparation space in a meaningful way. Lee has appeared twice prior on the Just Fly Performance podcast and has been a great source of practical ideas and knowledge on speed development for me over my years as a coach.
One of the big things I find more and more coaches looking for is ideas on the long term development of an athlete. By the time an athlete gets to high school, let alone college and the pro’s, the vast majority of the “ground-work” has been done in regards to the speed and reaction abilities of that athlete-specific to their sport. Unfortunately, there are many pitfalls for young athletes, who miss many critical windows of early development for a variety of reasons.
This podcast is all about the development of speed from a young age, how velocity rules training (even if technique is “ugly” early on) as well as some varied topics on Lee’s take on warmups for training, and sport, as well as thoughts on vision training and low-box training for athletes. Whether you work with youth, or established athletes, or are a sport parent, this is essential information.
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Timestamps and Main Points
6:10 What coaching athletes in the private sector was like in the 1990’s, as well as the state of athletes in that time period, versus the 2010’s and beyond
10:40 Some of the big rocks that have caused young athletes time to get taken up, and increase pressure and strain
15:40 Fun games and warmup ideas for athletes
28:55 How Lee designs his warmups and creates a competitive situation with reactive tracking work
32:30 How Lee links his warmups to the rest of his workouts, and how he will utilize games that fit with the greater theme of the session
35:10 Key performance indicators that Lee looks at in regards to how well his game-speed training is transferring
45:40 Some things that are doing a disservice to athletes early on in their development of game-speed, etc., and the importance of maximal velocity training for young athletes, and how skill development can come along gradually
57:00 Advice for an athlete in their warmup for a sport game (versus warming up for a practice)
59:55 How Lee looks at vision training from a “raw” perspective
1:09.10 How “low-box” training works and how Lee uses it in his performance regimen
“Back then, it was really common for parents to say “Lee, we need something for our kids to do, what do you got? Now days, it’s the opposite”
“We talk about ACL’s now, like we talk about drinking water… it was this big news (back in the 1990’s)… mentally kids are not absorbed in any one process, because they can’t”
“I could get results quicker back then (in the 1990’s), just through sound training, because (the athletes) had more to give me. Now, you take one step forward, you take another step back”
“Sometimes I don’t want then thinking… just go play, react!”
“I love soccer related things for athletes that don’t play soccer, it’s tremendous for the groin and adductors, especially when they aren’t used to doing it”
“Kids don’t know how to read spin (on a ball) unless they are exposed to it”
“Days vary, because if I sense the athletes are fatigued, tired, bored, upset, we play a lot… I’ll sprinkle in teaching while they are playing, but that will be the bulk of the workout”
“We’ve put them in situations where they have to make good decisions, and that’s how I judge (KPI’s for game-speed transfer)”