Methods to Improve Sprint Ability

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Sprinting is a major piece of most sports.

It is also something that coaches, scouts, and recruiters always notice.

Being able to sprint fast opens up a lot of opportunities for athletes that have it or can train it.

The fastest athletes can:

  • Lead offensive pressure
  • Get away from defenders
  • Catch up on defense
  • Get into open space easily

This was something that helped me in my Ultimate Frisbee days (not a sport but definitely an activity). When I first started, I could not throw the damn thing. The good part was that no one else could because the team turned over a lot of players.

The one thing that allowed me to play was that I was faster than most other people on the team and I could keep it up. I was also usually less hungover than everyone else.

I didn’t even have the skills to play in a game but speed can make a difference.

Now, back to info for those of you that play real sports. Improving straight line speed is one of the more difficult tasks in training. It is simple but there are a lot of bad habits to break.

You can also pop onto Instagram and find a bunch of “speed”drills that will not help you sprint any faster. The methods outlined below have been used to make thousands of athletes faster and they are not flashy for the camera.

Changing your Mindset

Sometimes sprinting faster just means that you need to talk yourself into it. When it comes time to sprint, most athletes will not run all out. I have no reason why. After the first sprint, I can tell most athletes to beat their first time and they will.

I’ve got no explanation but I like to rule this one out first and foremost. If you are not sprinting all out, do not expect to get faster.

Once you are sprinting all out you can use the following methods.

Resisted Running

Resisted sprinting means can help with stride frequency and knee drive. When using resisted means we can get more steps in the same amount of distance.

This can teach the athlete to drive their knees to hip level while also spending minimal time on the ground. The foot should not be in contact with the ground for very long.

Resisted running can be done with a harness, launch system, bungee, partner, or a sled.

Assisted Running

This is also called overspeed training. The main reason I like the assisted sprinting is that it teaches athletes to run faster than they normally would. It will also help lengthen out their stride.

Wortham2

There are 2 ways to add assistance to sprinting. One would be to use a bungee to pull the athlete into their sprint. This really teaches you how to move fast.

You can also do it without equipment. Take a 20 yd dash. Start 5 yards behind the line. Use bounds to get some momentum into the start. You will now run those 20 yds faster than if you did not get that flying start.

Knee Drive

Knee drive drills can be skipping and marching or running with the use of equipment. The basics are marching, A-Skip, and A-Run.

The goal of those movements is to drive the knee to hip level and push the ground away from you.

With those movements we can add equipment, resistance, assistance, etc.

The knee drive is the biggest differentiation in fast and slow athletes. You cannot be fast without a good knee drive. It might look like you move quick but you will not really get anywhere.

Stride Length

This is the advanced version of the knee drive work. Once an athlete is able to drive their knees and improve their speed, their stride length can get some attention.

Most athletes cannot actively push into the ground to help them gain ground down the turf. This is difficult because there is a strength and a technique component. Great technique with no strength will make it difficult to extend the hip completely.

We can go assisted with these or we can set up low hurdles. The hurdles would get progressively further apart to force the athlete to lengthen their stride. No jumping or bounding to get over the hurdles is allowed here.