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Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #30: Mike Young

This week’s guest is Dr. Mike Young.  Mike is the owner of Athletic Lab in Cary, NC.  Mike is also the founder of the website www.elitetrack.com, which for young coaches like me was an extremely valuable resource in learning more about the sport, as well as various training program.  In 2010, I coached a national champion in the 55m dash using workouts I derived largely from Josh Hurlebaus’ training log on the Elitetrack forums.

Mike has been a contributor to Just Fly Sports in the past, and one of the things that Mike has that is in rare demand is experience in biomechanics, track and field, team sport, strength and conditioning, and technology use.  This combination makes him a great expert on all things speed and force application.

Today, we are going to cover lots of biomechanical topics on speed development, comparing and contrasting track to team sport.  We also get into some special strength topics, such as the role of bar speed measurement in the weightroom, as well as Mike’s use of the kBox in developing specific strength for jumpers and sprinters.  If you coach speed, and are interested in the fine points of cueing and exercise selection, then you’ll find this episode particularly fascinating.

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.

Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #30: Mike Young


Key Points:

  • Ideals on coaching acceleration in team sport vs. track and field
  • Internal vs. external cueing in speed and acceleration building
  • Cueing posterior pelvic tilt and speed
  • Coaching (or not coaching) frontside mechanics in sprinting
  • Technology used in speed and agility training
  • Bar speed as a KPI metric (or not)
  • Mike’s thoughts on the kBox


“The basics of acceleration mechanics are the same (between track and team sports), the physics don’t lie, we accelerate the same whether we’re on a soccer pitch or basketball court.  The only difference is if whether we’re in these really low starting positions and have spikes on that might change our starting angles, and whether we have to deal with various starting positions, so side facing, coming off a backpedal, coming off a small jog, that kind of thing”

“In most sports, you’re never going to be in those crouched positions, the 3 point or 4 point start”

“(In team sport) we’re accelerating to a visual/auditory/personnel stimulus on the field or court.  That’s totally different than what we might see in track.  Everything in track is a very discrete task, we know exactly what is going to happen…. That’s not the case with field and team sports, I try to introduce that element, making the start a little unpredictable, with various starting positions responding to a clap, or a ball, or other players positioning”

“Most of the time, I’m going to be using external cueing for both track and team sports”

“The only time you might want to use internal over external cueing is if you want to get a very specific muscle activation”

“The orientation of the lumbo-pelvic hip complex has a profound effect on what the leg is able to do with respect to the ground”

“With volitional posterior pelvic tilt (as compared to normal) we saw that at the same running velocities on the treadmill, the stride lengths were 2” longer… I’ve since seen very similar things counting steps in a fly zone manipulating pelvic tilt”

“Sprinting is such a fast movement, the more we can make it a hind-brain activity, the better the athlete is going to be”

“I have found a fairly clear relationship between postural alignment and sprint speed and if you don’t have postural alignment correct, particularly the pelvis, you’re not going to sprint correctly, doesn’t matter how much you cue the limbs, if the lumbo-pelvic complex is not oriented correctly, it’s not going to work”

“When we ask an athlete in a team field court sport to basically make a play that decides a game, overwhelmingly, those are linear, longer sprints… we want an athlete in a way that they can run fastest, which is how sprinters run”

“Swing phase range of motion is pretty much going to stay fixed, we have this choice of having it stay behind us which we know is not really beneficial and screws up postural alignment and isn’t sustainable for further speed, or we can shift it to the front side of the body which we know is is beneficial to increasing ground reaction forces and maintaining postural alignment, so if I have the choice, I’m going to shift it to the front whenever possible”

“We autoregulate training within a session using timing gates”

“If you are going to use technology, make sure the data is actionable and you aren’t just pulling out gadgets”

“(referencing a research study) The group that received feedback via velocity based training improved (jumping and sprinting) vs. a group that did not receive feedback”

“I’ve been a huge fan of isometric and eccentric training and its role in sports performance for a very long time.  For many years I had to come up with some borderline dangerous things (to drive eccentric load) for some of our performance sports such as track and field, jumpers in particular.  I think the kBox provides a very safe alternative to some of the things I was doing”


About Mike Young

Mike YoungMike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting & a CrossFit Level 1 coach. He is on the advisory board for the Korean Weightlifting Federation and has been featured in publications ranging from the New York Times to ESPN Insider.


  1. The podcasts don’t play anymore in Internet Explorer of Firefox since a couple of month now…

  2. Thanks for the heads up, I’ll look into the cause

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