There is a lot to learn when it comes to increasing speed and quickness.
We are lucky at Evolution to get to work with the amount of athletes we have. The more experience we get the better we can be at what we do.
One thing in particular that a lot of athletes struggle with is pushing themselves forward when they sprint.
A lot of athletes don’t or don’t know how to really get a good push down the field when they sprint. Sometimes making them aware of it is a good way to improve it. A lot of times we need more.
There is a lot going on with sprinting. The 3 things that I think are most important for speed are good lead knee drive, trail leg extension, and foot contact with the ground.
This post is all about trail leg extension.
Driving the knees is easy to work on. Getting the trail leg to propel you forward is a lot more difficult. There is a lot more at play with this sprinting quality.
The back leg should be locked out at the hip and the knee to ensure a good push. The picture below shows good extension at both joints. Some idiot (me) didn’t get a good enough angle of it though.
I like to use bounds and strength training to help give athletes the motor they need to get this kind of extension.
Linear bounds can serve a couple of purposes, depending on your focus. Focusing on the take off is a good way to train leg extension.
Admittedly, the video above has a deceleration focus on the landing leg. To make it all acceleration, take out sticking the landing.
Using a bound sometimes works better than just in a sprint because jumping and spending time in the air is actually promoted. It can be uncomfortable or unnatural to feel that in a regular sprint. We also don’t want a sprint to turn into a gallop.
Resisted bounds are a great way to force the athlete to push themselves. A weak push does not get them forward.
I like using a weight sled or a bungee. As you can see in the video, the athlete spends a little bit of time in the air. This is to help the athlete understand the push they need.
As with any resisted drill, I like to reinforce it without the resistance. And, yes, it is ok to get that much distance on the first step un-resisted.
The glutes and hamstrings are responsible for hip extension. This is the biggest strength need for athletes that want to sprint fast. RDLs, deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute bridges, etc. are all great for training hip extension.
I also want to address a couple of quad dominant variations. The quads are primary knee extensors after all. Step ups and single leg balances are two variations for lunges.
The video above takes a regular reverse lunge and adds a single leg balance/knee drive to it. This is a very similar position to what we want in the sprint.
This familiarity in the position will help athletes make a smooth transition to sprinting.