Speed is something that all athletes want.
The faster they are, the better chance they have at succeeding in their sport. They must still be good at their sport first and foremost, but being fast certainly helps.
When it comes to developing speed, it is something that is normally done over many years to create truly fast athletes. More often than not, someone is a little bit older and just starting to take their sport seriously when they start working on their speed.
There are a lot of speed training aspects that are complicated but most are not. Speed training can actually be pretty simple.
The following 10 tips are what we work toward when developing an athlete.
- Run Fast
Athletes have to want to run fast if they want to get faster. Without the intent of sprinting fast then speed is probably not going to improve.
The body only adapts to the demands we put on it. Without any kind of overload, or running with 100% effort in this case, the body will usually stay the same.
This is why your mile runs or excessive conditioning does not necessarily help with sprinting. They are done at such a slow pace that no speed is being trained.
- Drive the knees
One of the first lessons we teach our athletes is how to get a good knee drive. We are looking for the hip and knee to be flexed at 90 degrees.
This is one of the biggest factors of increasing speed that athletes do not take advantage of.
The best way to see the improvements is to do a sprint and then follow that up with another sprint where we focus on getting the knee to hip level.
- Get your arms under control
Good arm action is when the arms are going straight back and straight forward. And most importantly, the arms have to actually move.
I feel like I have seen it all when it comes to arms- across the body, not moving at all, and some other horror shows.
I try to get athletes to relax when they won’t move their arms. The body will do it naturally it just has to be allowed to swing freely.
- Take a long time in between sprints
Sprints are a maximal effort exercise. Anything where the intensity is that high requires a long rest period.
Too short of rest and we now have conditioning. Sprint training and “traditional” conditioning should be two different things.
Athletes get run into the ground more than ever because they are playing on more teams and coaches think that they need it to be better.
All out efforts need a longer rest.
- Use a flying start
A flying start is something like a half speed run/bound kind of thing used to get momentum into the start. Getting this momentum before the start gives the athlete a chance to run the same distance in much faster times.
When training for speed this is a good tool to show athletes how fast they could actually be.
Add the flying start before a 20 or 30 yard sprint and the athletes will be running faster than they normally do in that distance.
- Keeping the torso stable
The upper body should be still while the limbs do all the work during the sprint. A lack of stability means that the torso is going to be moving a lot, which causes energy leaks.
The effort going into the sprint is now somewhat lost because the sprint is not efficient.
Keep the torso under control and speed will improve.
- Again, it all comes down to effort.
A point that needs to be reiterated. If the athlete is not trying to sprint hard then they probably are not going to.
The knee drive can be on point and everything else looks good except they are not trying.
Once the athlete trusts what we are doing and learns the right way to train for speed is when the fun stuff starts.