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Will there be a Paradigm Shift? Max Velocity versus Timed Sprint

Joe Kenn | Vice President of Performance Education



With the advent of GPS technology into sports performance programs across the world, new KPIs (key performance indicators) have arisen in the evaluation of linear speed. GPS allows coaches to now measure an athlete’s ability to reach maximum velocity in miles per hour (MPH). Many coaches have utilized this new metric as a way to measure athlete’s speeds outside of just recording a timed yardage interval. Speaking to many coaches who measure max velocity in MPH, this has really motivated the athletes in their training because they can equate that to how fast a car moves and it is easier to record for the coach. Plus, it’s cool!!!! I won’t lie, I would have loved to have seen how fast I could run in MPH! Well, maybe not.


I have gone back and forth on my own beliefs if max velocity in MPH over a certain distance would replace an actual time recorded on a stop watch or electronic timing device. The more I studied the importance of these two metrics the more I realized both are needed in the evaluation of the athlete.


Here is why I belief that. In this general example, we have three athletes running a forty-yard dash. All three hit the same Max Velocity in MPH. Yet, they all had different forty-yard dash times. How can that be? It has to do with another metric now being measured with GPS, max acceleration, how fast an athlete can reach their maximum velocity. Another factor is how long can the athlete maintain their maximum velocity over the designated length of the sprint.


Here could be the reasons for this occurrence. One, an athlete may take longer to reach max velocity so they are not at “full speed” for a large portion of the race; therefore, their time may suffer. This athlete may be suited for longer sprints. Two, an athlete has tremendous acceleration and reaches “full speed” quickly but may not be able to maintain their max for the entirety of the race. Third, an athlete has good acceleration and is able to maintain “full speed” through the finish line, which could mean better overall strength-power capacity. Three athletes who reach the same MPH in three scenarios leads to three different overall times. The GPS data indicates where each athlete may need to improve and the coach can individualize the training plans based on this data. The athlete now gets quality feedback from both the coach and the technology. And this example shows why I believe both are needed to help enhance an athlete’s overall abilities.


I have been extremely impressed with some of the coaches who are invested and developing their programs to help athletes improve speed with the addition of technology. I have learned a tremendous amount from them and I appreciate the efforts.


Best Success and #wordswin

Coach Kenn


1 Comment


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