HMMR Podcast Episode 94: Multi-Directional Speed (with Ken Clark)

Speed is key in every sport, but not all speed is created equal. In many sports, maximum speed is not the game changer. Instead, it is how fast you can respond to the opponent, change direction, and get moving again. In other words, multi-directional speed is often more important than linear speed. On this episode of the podcast professor Ken Clark explains the three elements of multi-directional speed, how it differs from other types of speed, and strategies to improve it.


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Professor Clark has been a leader in researching sprint mechanics. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He also assists with strength and conditioning with several teams in the area. To start off the episode we discussed the difference between agility, multi-directional speed, and change of direction. Most people assume they are all the same, but it is not that simple:

Agility is not the same as change of direction. It's about more than just the physical & technical. Click To Tweet There is not a huge correlation between change of direction skills and agility skills. @KenClarkSpeed Click To Tweet

Clark uses a model to help break down multi-directional speed and much of the episode when into talking about the key components and how to training them:

The 3 components of multi-directional speed: cognitive/perception, physical & technical. Click To Tweet

Difference between agility experts & novices comes from visual scanning & pattern recognition. Click To Tweet Force is still king, but angles & vectors are different with multi-directional speed. Click To Tweet

To hear more on multi-directional speed, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further Reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:

  • Learn more about variation and other planning topics at our upcoming seminar in London on May 20 with John Kiely and myself. We will discuss topics like periodization, performance, planning, and more in detail, including real world examples of smart planning in practice. Register early at a discount.
  • Don’t forget to join HMMR Plus. Sign up and you can also get access to our new webinar on basic speed, plus all our other webinars, online meetups, articles, our sports science newsletter, and more.
  • Our new webinar features top high school sprint coach Joe McNab. For more on his coaching philosophy, listen to our interview with him on Episode 77.
  • Clark is active on Twitter, where you can find him at @kenclarkspeed.
  • For more on linear speed, listen to GAINcast 21 where Clark discussed his research on the topic and best practices for coaches.
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