Develop Speed Without Leaving the Weight Room

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Opportunities abound to enhance your speed, even beyond regularly scheduled training days. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, speed and agility work takes place in the weight room, during the same training sessions that have players like running back Trent Richardson crushing inordinate volumes of weight.

Performing drills between sets of lifts not only develops speed, it also helps produce "a totally conditioned athlete"—one who is "in better shape than the opposition in the fourth quarter," says Scott Cochran, director of strength and conditioning for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama's speed, strength and endurance are manifest in a recent article, "Top 10 Strongest Men in College Football." As much as senior writer Bruce Feldman "tried to avoid having two guys from the same program on the list," he just couldn't help himself, and a pair of  Crimson Tide players were honored for their incredible feats of strength in the weight room.

The weight room numbers of Richardson and Josh Chapman, the two Tide players named to the strong man team, are jaw-dropping. Chapman, weighing in at just over 300 pounds, benched 580 pounds and squatted 630. Richardson, a 220-pound running back, "benched 450 to go with a 600-pound Squat, a 365-pound Power Clean and a 4.4 40-Yard Dash," Feldman writes.

Freak-of-nature totals, indeed. But Richardson's gaudy weight-room numbers are not what make him one of the top running backs in the country. It's his ability to transfer that strength and power to the field.

Simply put, you can bench and squat all day long, but it won't improve your football performance. "Today's athletes want to be bigger, but the most important thing is speed," Cochran says. "You have to spend time on speed development." His advice is simple: "Jump rope for 30 seconds or do ladder drills between sets. There are a million things you can do for speed in the weight room."

A plethora of jump rope and ladder drills and variations are waiting for you between sets, which is why this is the first of three posts highlighting some of them. [Check back in the days ahead for the second and third posts.]

Here are several jump rope variations  you can use between sets of power and Olympic lifts:

Shawn Horcoff, Center, Edmonton Oilers

In the video above, Horcoff performs his jump rope routine for 60 seconds. Follow his routine but do each pattern for 10 seconds.

  • Begin with two feet
  • After 10 seconds, switch to jogging in place
  • After 10 seconds, switch to side-to-side

Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

  • Jump rope for 30 seconds, alternating foot patterns from one foot, two feet and double hops between ground contacts.

Virginia Tech Football's Jump Rope Drills With Movement

Perform any of the following patterns for 30 seconds, making sure you have sufficient space in front and to sides.

  • Running Forward
  • Two-Leg Forward Hop
  • Single-Leg Forward Hop
  • Two-Leg Right/Left


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock