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Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #20: Henk Kraaijenhof

This week’s guest is Henk Kraaijenhof.   Henk is one of the smartest coaches/consultants out there in the world of training and conditioning, with years of experience training many of the fastest sprinters in the world and consulting and training a broad array of other sports.

I first heard him speak at the Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar in 2014, where he gave the best presentation I had ever seen on building speed in athletes.  After the seminar, Henk gave me some really good thoughts on how athletes generally do better training towards their strengths rather than their weaknesses.  Sprinters are designed to sprint fast, and slow-twitch distance runners are built to run further.  Subjecting either to a type of training they aren’t designed for an extended period of time won’t yield the results many coaches are hoping for.

what-we-need-is-speedHenk might be the best guy out there to talk about athlete centered training regimens.  If I ever have a question on muscle-twitch types and training, or training athletes based on psychological differences, Henk is an amazing resource.

Henk has also just finished a new book, “What We Need is Speed”, which is a compilation of Henk’s thoughts on speed in context of technique, motor learning, genetics, fiber types, strength training, training programs and more.  I couldn’t recommend it more if you are interested in getting athletes faster.

Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #20: Henk Kraaijenhof

Today’s episode is brought to you by SimpliFaster, supplier of high-end athletic development tools, such as the Freelap timing system, kBox, Sprint 1080, and more.


Key Points:

  • Henk’s thoughts on plyometric exercise, and it’s correlation to the four phases of a 100m sprint
  • How much cueing and coaching should coaches look to be doing when working with athletes
  • How to cue athletes who might be left (quantitative) vs. right (spatial) brained athletes for their optimal performance
  • Henk’s thoughts on the Braverman test and neurotransmitter types in assessing athletes and training response
  • Muscle fiber types, and how fast vs. slow twitch athletes should approach training differently
  • Ways to assess muscle fiber types of an athlete without using a muscle biopsy
  • The balance in utilizing bounding exercises for the sake of improving speed
  • The appropriate balance in the amount of training data and monitoring in conjunction with traditional coaching intuition
  • Training “Warrior” vs. “Worrier” type athletes from a mental and coaching perspective


“I find a relationship between a block start and squat jumping from an isometric position”

“I find a strong relationship between the acceleration phase and a countermovement jump”

“For the maximum speed phase of a 100m race, we used a reactivity test (RSI)”

“For the endurance phase of the race, we found a very good correlation with the 16 second maximum repeated countermovement jump test”

“(Regarding cueing) Not all things that you observe can be changed… not all things that you observe should be changed”

“People learn in different ways, by studying the brain you learn why corrections work in some athletes, and not on others”

“5×300 on 4’ rest or repetitive countermovement jumping for 30 seconds is a good way to assess fast vs. slow twitch fiber types based on performance decrement, you see how they spent their energy”

“The ability to handle larger workloads is larger in those with more slow twitch fibers.  The ability to handle higher intensity workloads is larger in those with more fast twitch fibers”

“Sprinters aren’t lazy, they just use up their fuel extremely fast”

“That’s the trick, how can apply research from sport science on this particular athlete”

“In competition, the Warrior goes from suboptimal adrenaline levels to optimal adrenaline levels.  The Worrier starts to see competition as a threat”

“The breaker tends to crack under pressure, because they squeeze out too much adrenaline”

About Henk Kraaijenhof

henkHenk Kraaijenhof coaching credentials include Nelli Cooman, Merlene Ottey, Troy Douglas and Tennis star Mary Pierce. His specialties are the physical and mental coaching, in particular stress and stress management and the methodology or training. When you consider both Ottey and Douglas ran world class times in their 40’s, something is working.

Henk Kraaijenhof currently works for Vortx and his blog is helpingthebesttogetbetter.com.

He has published work in performance, training systems and protocols for elite athletes and has also conducted research in the development and application of scientific training systems.  Henk is also involved in scientific research projects in human sports performance in Norway, Estonia, Italy and the Netherlands. He is currently also working as a mentor for the Olympic coaches and Olympic talent coaches in Holland.

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