Speed never goes unnoticed.
It is probably the one quality that every athlete wants. It is also a huge difference maker.
The reason that speed is so important is that it is such a difference maker. The argument always is that you can be as strong as you want but if youre slow then you’re dead.
The fastest athletes will always have an opportunity to make plays and sometimes more importantly, always have the chance to play for the best teams.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with a college athlete and a former intern. The athlete asked about the idea that speed cannot be taught.
I think its a load of crap. But I also believe it at the same time.
I would never win an Olympic medal in sprinting even if I really wanted it or went to all the right camps, or whatever nonsense athletes do these days. Elite level speed cannot be taught, you either have it or you don’t.
But athletes can definitely learn to be fast. I can’t promise 4.2 40 yard dashes but you can become faster than you are today. That goes for fast athletes too. Athletes with elite sprinting speed all continue to perfect their ability.
It is a massive mistake to not recognize how much you need speed training and how much faster you could become.
Improving speed comes down to a few things that can be done instantly and some take some time to surface. The magic really comes with repetition. Perfecting the following qualities will give you speed that will set you apart.
1. Run Faster
There are two types of athletes we see with our speed training. When told to run 20 yards as fast as they can, athlete 1 will do just that and athlete 2 will ask how many they have to do.
Sport coaches and unqualified trainers have conditioned our kids into submission. Confusing sprints and conditioning is one of the biggest training mistakes. It causes athletes to hold back on their sprint attempts for fear of going to hard to early.
The fix is simple. Time a sprint. Next time I usually tell the athlete to run faster, all out if they have to. I am willing to bet that the second attempt will be faster.
There is not trick here just making it perfectly clear that now is the time to hold nothing back.
2. Drive the Knees
Fast sprinters drive their knees to hip level. Joggers do not have to so there is no knee drive when they run. Sprint like a sprinter.
A good way to think of this is “running through high grass.” Drive the knees and you will run faster.
Bonus points: if you spend less time on the ground you will run faster. This is like “running on hot coals.”
3. Push the Ground Away
Pushing the ground away is a little bit of an advanced technique. Athletes really struggle with perfect this.
It is, however, easy enough to get the athlete at least pushing themselves forward. Too many athletes take a lot of steps without gaining any distance. If you are not gaining ground you are going to look slow.
These are sometimes your quick feet people. They can get around very quickly in small areas but have no ability to separate. They probably need to propel themselves forward.
Too many athletes are holding all kinds of tension when they run. The Olympics will be here soon. Watch the faces of the sprinters. Their cheeks will be bouncing up and down because they are relaxed.
Tensing up when running will hold speed back. Allow the arms to swing freely, forward and backward. Remember the tip about having a relaxed face.
Those two areas are the most obvious tension holding spots. Relax, you will run faster.
All four of these hacks can help improve speed immediately. The real art is being able to perfect them and use them in your sport. Start with these on the journey of getting faster.