Hello from the Multi-Directional Speed Team and welcome to the first official post of our website! Through this page and our other social media platforms, we aim to provide the wider community of sports scientists, practitioners, coaches, and athletes with the most contemporary discussion around the theme of multi-directional speed (MDS). Those involved in sports performance will understand that the training process is highly complex and the role of athleticism is becoming increasingly more important in order to perform in the modern era. The MDS Team will aim to provide the most cutting-edge, evidence-based applications for the assessment and training of MDS, while providing additional insight into areas such as performance monitoring, resistance training, growth and maturation, and more. Further, although our content will focus mainly on team sports, applications for racquet sports and other individual disciplines may also be relevant. It is our goal to help the scientist, coach, or athlete navigate through the complexities of sports performance with an informed understanding of the methods that can optimise athletic performance and reduce injury risk in their respective sport.
This first article aims to provide an overview of the components of MDS, with particular reference to our two-part narrative review which has recently been published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal (you can access Part 1 here: Multidirectional Speed in Youth Soccer Players: Theoretical… : Strength & Conditioning Journal (lww.com)). Although the article is discussed within the specific context of youth soccer, the underpinning principles of MDS can be applied to any team sport context. The MDS continuum (Figure 1) aims to highlight key high-intensity actions that are performed in team sport competitive match play, and research has shown that performing each component has important implications for performance and injury risk. For instance, greater acceleration, maximum velocity, and change of direction speed capabilities have each been shown to differentiate between players from different playing standards (Haugen et al., 2013), and further, sprinting has been highlighted as the most frequent action preceding goal scoring scenarios (Faude et al., 2012). Conversely, these same MDS actions have been linked to potentially career-threatening injuries, such as non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injury (i.e., cutting; Montgomery et al., 2018) and hamstring strain injuries (i.e., high-speed running; Ruddy et al., 2018). Arguably, then, MDS can and should be seen as one of the most important physical qualities in team sport. This points toward an approach that features frequent exposure to MDS training as a central component to both improving performance and reducing injury risk in team sports.
“Multi-directional speed can be defined as having the competency and capacity to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, and ultimately maintain speed in multiple directions and movements, within the context of sports-specific scenarios”McBurnie & Dos’Santos (2021)
There is currently a limited understanding of the MDS demands in match play across different sports. Typically, for example, match analysis in team sports has focused on whole-body locomotive (e.g., high-speed running) and ‘mechanical’ (e.g., acceleration, deceleration) metrics. However, with a comprehensive understanding of the volumes, intensities, densities, and contextual demands of different MDS actions in each sport, training prescription can be more informed, precise, and bespoke to each individual’s needs. It is hoped that the reference framework we provide (Figure 1) can be a stepping-stone for much needed research to build on this area for each respective sport. Establishing a ‘knowledge structure’ of sports actions (i.e., MDS actions) can underpin a more scientific approach training by supporting theoretical understanding of key concepts, and ultimately, to make decisions more informed.
Notably, there are characteristic differences in the kinetic, kinematic, and spatiotemporal parameters during different MDS manoeuvres, which indicates that each action places distinct biomechanical and physiological demands on the systems of the body. This has implications for the assessment, selection, and sequencing of training variables within an athletic development programme. As such, the MDS team will aim to provide education on these considerations, with particular emphasis on key themes that will be running threads through our posts:
Components of Multi-Directional Speed
- Linear speed
- Change of direction speed
- Curvilinear speed
- Contextual Speed
We believe that the underpinning aims regarding the preparation of multi-directional team sport athletes should be to generate robust and effective 360° athletes, who have the competency to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction rapidly and effectively from both limbs. We hope that this introduction provides a snapshot of the MDS team’s philosophy and provokes some thought on your own practise as a scientist, coach or athlete. We feel that science should underpin any approach taken when assessing, training and monitoring MDS; however, we also acknowledge that the separation between science and application can often be too large, and we intend to bridge this gap by disseminating knowledge in a more accessible format. Stay tuned for more updates on our social media platforms – we look forward to starting this journey with you all!
Faude, O., Koch, T., & Meyer, T. (2012). Straight sprinting is the most frequent action in goal situations in professional football. Journal of sports sciences, 30(7), 625-631.
Haugen, T. A., Tønnessen, E., & Seiler, S. (2013). Anaerobic performance testing of professional soccer players 1995–2010. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 8(2), 148-156.
Montgomery, C., Blackburn, J., Withers, D., Tierney, G., Moran, C. & Simms, C. (2018). Mechanisms of ACL injury in professional rugby union: A systematic video analysis of 36 cases. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52 (15); 944-1001.
Ruddy, J. D., Pollard, C. W., Timmins, R. G., Williams, M. D., Shield, A. J., & Opar, D. A. (2018). Running exposure is associated with the risk of hamstring strain injury in elite Australian footballers. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(14), 919-928.