Book Review(s): Strength Training for Speed & High-Performance Training for Sports

Post date: 13-Aug-2014 21:57:50

Two new titles were released the last month, both similar in that they are focussed on physical conditioning for sport and both draw on a combination of practical insight and scientific evidence. For that reason I thought it sensible to review them together, and see what they had to offer the reader.

Wild, J. (2014) Strength Training for Speed. Chichester: Lotus Publishing. (288 pages; rrp £19.99; amazon)

James Wild is an S&C practitioner at Surrey Sports Park and is currently undertaking a PhD in the biomechanics and motor control of acceleration. Strength Training for Speed is an impressive text for a single author to produce and in this world of self-appointed online experts and e-books it is built on a firm foundation of peer-reviewed evidence and accepted best practice. With 100 pages of exercise library and 50 pages of sample training programmes the book is perfect for any emerging professionals and young athletes looking to develop their knowledge of key training principles and there are a number of good insights that take the book beyond a simple regurgitation of established training guidelines. Examples include a clear explanation of the physical pre-requisites of plyometric training based on training status and a similar look at periodization guidelines. The exercise library is clearly presented and contains a number of concise coaching points and the sample programmes will be very useful to those that are looking to develop the ability and confidence to write personalised programmes, something that is quite daunting at first. Joyce, D. and Lewindon, D. (Eds) (2014) High-Performance Training for Sports. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics (404 pages; rrp £18.99; amazon) High-Performance Training for Sports is an edited text that brings together a wide range of experienced practitioners, researchers, and coaches to create one of the most authoritative and useable texts on the subject so far. In addition to the 2 lead authors there are contributions from 29 authors including such luminaries as Mark Verstegen, Frans Bosch, Mike McGuigan, Rhodri Lloyd, Darren Burgess, Jeremy Sheppard, Greg Haff and Liam Kilduff. Many chapters also contain an additional “coach’s insight” from a range of the world’s top conditioning coaches that contain the sort of personal perspectives that one normally only finds at workshops and conventions. There are many good chapters and after an initial reading I'm looking forward to revisiting “Fine-tuning motor control” by Frans Bosch, and “Maintaining an in-season conditioning edge” by Stuart Yule where he presents 10 critical in-season training philosophies. The book is divided into 3 sections; Building Robust Athletes, Developing Athletic Capacity and Delivering Performance and is similar to last year’s excellent spinal rehabilitation text by Hodges, Cholewecki and McGill. It is a rare book that is able to bring together so many experts who can then write with such openness, passion and insight. The advice is based on robust scientific findings and insight drawn from applied experience and the balance between the two is as it should be. I find it disappointing to hear people in the field create a false division between academic researchers and in-the-field practitioners as the best of both field will not only draw on the experiences of the other but will actually be working in both fields to some degree. This book is a fine example of how various parts of the researcher-practitioner spectrum can be consolidated to the greater good of the field.

I would recommend both books for any professionals involved in working with athletes of any level. The Wild book is excellent for those new to the profession and a useful resource for those already working with athletes and looking for a text to recommend to their athletes. The Joyce/Lewindon text could well become one of the go-to texts in Strength & Conditioning as the balance of evidence based advice and practical insight is presented in such depth and with such clarity while each chapter still manages to maintain the personality and style of the author. Look into the future and I can see my copy of HPTFS being battered and scribbled all over and I look forward to that time as I will hopefully be all the wiser for it.

Ben Jane


Aug, 2014