Developing Speed #4 by Roger White

Speed Reserve

There are many ways to get faster. If you look at the Olympic sprinters, all have differing training programs, although many are similar in philosophy and principles. In my training system, I base my speed work around a concept called Speed Reserve. This was introduced to me by one of my mentor coaches and has proved to be successful time and time again, no matter the sport.

Let’s look at a simple illustration: If you and I lifted weights, and you had a maximum weight lifted of 200 pounds and I had a maximum of 150 lbs, when we lifted 125 pounds, who would perform more reps? Who would have to work harder? I think it’s pretty obvious that you, lifting 200 pounds, would more than likely perform more reps. But why? With your higher overall strength level, performing 125 pounds is just about half of your overall maximum strength level, whereas for me, it’s close to the maximum.

Now, using the same concept let’s look at how Speed Reserve works: You can run 15 miles per hour, and I can run 12 miles per hour. If we were doing endurance work, who would have to work harder to run faster? I would of course! I can’t possibly run faster than 12 miles per hour, but you can run at 13 miles per hour, which isn’t your maximum and still beat me. You have the extra reserve of 2 miles per hour, while I do not.

By having a higher maximum speed, you can perform things easier in competition due to the lower effort. In games, it may be rare for an athlete to actually reach their maximum speed (usually around the 30-50 yard mark in a straight sprint). The ability to accelerate quickly, slow down quickly, change direction and re-accelerate is the name of the game. After buying Developing Youth Speed and going through it’s workouts, I increased my speed from 12 to 16 miles per hour. At 12 miles per hour speed, I was competitive and found ways to make plays. But now with an increase in speed, I can still play at my old speed, use my new speed when needed, and be less fatigued since I can work at a lower effort. This concept may be hard to grasp but it is true. I have seen in all sports. Later, I will discuss what can be done to increase your speed reserve.

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This series is reproduced with permission by Roger White M. Ed., C.S.C.S.  For more information on developing athletic speed please visit


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