Speed and strength training are both vital for an athlete’s success and an athlete relies on having both attributes to be successful in their respective sport.
Speed vs Strength training: moving at high speeds with the maximum load possible
Strength vs Speed training: moving relatively heavy loads as fast as you can
The Force-Velocity curve is a way to visualize the distribution of how fast the weight moves compared to the athlete’s relative 1 rep max. For example, let's break down the barbell back squat. The heavier the weight is on your back, the slower the weight is going to move, for which the athlete is utilizing their maximum strength to complete their reps, which can be seen in Figure one to the right. If an athlete is lifting 90-100% of their 1 rep max, the relative speed of the movement is going to be slow. If the athlete is lifting 30-80% of their 1 rep max, the relative force output decreases, but the velocity, or the speed of the squat, increases, shown in Figure 1. To develop strength, it is advised to spend one to five reps at a heavyweight, 80% or higher of your one rep max. When you are focusing on increasing the power and overall explosiveness of the squat, the athlete wants to stay within 30 to 80% of their one rep max, for no more than six reps because we as coaches do not want to sacrifice the speed of the movement due to the importance of staying fast within the squat.
As you can see, there is a trade-off between the amount of weight lifted, and the speed at which the movement is completed, which translates to the playing field.
the more force you can produce with each step translates to a more explosive first step, which allows the athlete to gain separation or get a faster step off the blocks. Speed can be an innate feature to an athlete, but with proper speed training, an athlete can learn to generate strength and power efficiently which in turn, increases an athlete's overall speed. Working on an athlete's overall power output is crucial because power is athleticism. Power and explosiveness allow the athlete to jump higher, be more direct with their change in direction and on-field cuts, and first-step quickness because working on velocity in the weight room allows the body to make neural adaptations specific to their sport.
Speed vs Strength, which one is more important? The answer is both are extremely important in an athlete's success and are two separate things in training, but work in conjunction for a well-rounded athlete. Each is just as important as the other because athletes need both strength and speed to be competitive in their given sport.