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Human Kinetics

Anatomy of Speed

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While speed is often viewed as the defining characteristic of elite athletic performance, there remains plenty of misinformation and confusion about what speed truly is and how it can be developed.

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Book Description

While speed is often viewed as the defining characteristic of elite athletic performance, there remains plenty of misinformation and confusion about what speed truly is and how it can be developed. Speed is far more than seconds on a stopwatch—it is the result of multiple anatomical systems working together in highly coordinated unison, from the cross-body co-contractions of deep myofascial tissues to the pulsing contract-and-release cycle of the nervous system.

The Anatomy of Speed is a resource like no other. Bill Parisi, the internationally recognized expert and founder of Parisi Speed School, delves deep into the physiological mechanisms of speed through in-depth interviews with top experts and researchers in the field. The text provides scientifically proven exercises and drills for developing speed that will help performance coaches and athletes more effectively maximize development of this precious attribute. Using detailed photo sequences, enhanced with anatomical overlays, you will understand the different manifestations of speed, the biomotor systems that drive them, and scientifically proven drills and exercises for developing these abilities:
Maximum velocity
Change of direction
Speed-specific strength

The Anatomy of Speed converts the science into practical application, allowing you to select the most effective drills and exercises, and tailor a training program unique to your athlete’s needs. The exercises—which are each designated as basic, moderate, or advanced—are organized by complexity and speed-related categories. Exercises aimed at improving range of motion and priming the nervous system set the stage for optimal results. Speed-specific strength exercises use equipment like free weights, medicine balls, and sleds to target important speed and change-of-direction qualities. A practical programming chapter helps you assemble it all into individualized training based on sport, position, body type, skill level, movement preference, and training history.

Speed comes in many forms. It is a physical skill that can be developed and improved with targeted training and a solid understanding of mechanics. The Anatomy of Speed offers equal parts science, art, and practical application to do just that.

CE exam available! For certified professionals, a companion continuing education exam can be completed after reading this book. The Anatomy of Speed Online CE Exam may be purchased separately or as part of The Anatomy of Speed With CE Exam package that includes both the book and the exam.
Strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, athletes, and other coaches and sports medicine professionals.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Many Forms of Speed
Chapter 2. Systems of Speed
Chapter 3. Pre–Warm-Up for Injury Prevention
Chapter 4. Session-Based Active Dynamic Warm-Up
Chapter 5. Speed-Specific Strength
Chapter 6. Acceleration
Chapter 7. Maximum Velocity
Chapter 8. Deceleration
Chapter 9. Multidirectional Speed
Chapter 10. Agility
Chapter 11. System-Specific Recovery
Chapter 12. Programming Menus


Bill Parisi is the founder and CEO of the Parisi Speed School and developer of the Parisi Training System. He is a 1990 graduate of Iona College, located in New Rochelle, New York, where he was selected as a two-time Division I track-and-field All-American (in 1988 and 1989). Bill also qualified for and competed in the 1988 U.S. Olympic track-and-field trials in the javelin throw. He currently still holds the Iona College school record for the javelin throw and in 2003 was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. In 1989, he traveled to Finland to train, learn from, and compete with some of the best athletes in the world. This international athletic training experience prompted Bill to start his own training business based on the strategies he learned.

In 1991, he earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) credential. In 1992, while $50,000 in debt, he founded the Parisi Speed School and, using a $500 van, traveled from school to school in New Jersey to deliver free speed clinics. In 1993, Bill opened his first speed-training location, a 2,500-square-foot facility in Wyckoff, New Jersey. In 2000, he opened his flagship speed school in Fair Lawn, New Jersey: a 32,000-square-foot facility specializing in youth speed training. This facility was recognized by Men’s Health in 2009 as one of the top 10 gyms in the country. In 2015, Active Times named Parisi Speed School the number one training facility in America. Since then, the Parisi Speed Training System has certified over 2,500 speed coaches throughout the world. In addition, Parisi Speed School has over 90 licensed speed-training locations and a growing affiliate program of individually licensed coaches worldwide. The Parisi Training System has been used to train more than one million young athletes between the ages of 7 and 18, producing first-round draft picks in every professional sport—including more than 145 NFL draft picks—and a host of Olympic medalists and UFC fighters.

In addition to being a recognized expert in youth speed training, Parisi founded the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (PFSCCA) in 2010, which is now partnered with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). As executive director of the PFSCCA, he hosts annual summits for the strength and conditioning coaches of all 32 NFL teams, where he invites top experts in the field to present the latest evidence-based research on speed, power, and injury resilience. In 2019, Parisi also established the Fascia Training Academy, which provides cutting-edge educational resources for understanding how to better train the body’s elastic connective tissue system.

Bill has coauthored and been a contributing author to numerous books, including Success Patterns, Don’t “Should” on Your Kids, Fascia Training, Fascia in Sport and Movement, and Fascial Fitness. Bill has served as a consultant or featured lecturer for several sports-related organizations, including the NFL, USA Football, Nike, and Reebok, as well as numerous sports industry associations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM); American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM); American Council on Exercise (ACE); and the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). He has also contributed content for USA Football’s online coaches’ library. In addition to speaking, writing, and consulting, Parisi has been featured on Fox Sports, ESPN, The Today Show, CNBC, ESPN the Magazine, Sporting News, New York Times, USA Today, CBI magazine, and Running magazine.

Bill lives in Wyckoff, New Jersey, with his wife and two sons.


As previously mentioned, maximum velocity can be broken down into different phases, such as front- and backside mechanics and transition. While coaches can cue individual elements of max-velocity sprinting based on what an athlete needs to work on, the athlete, however, experiences them all as one connected action. Focus on one cue per sprint and try to keep each cue simple and short. Again, there are endless possibilities and technique refinements that can be made. I’ve listed a few proven max-velocity cues here that I’ve found effective, but you should experiment with what works for you and your athletes, keeping in mind that every situation is unique.