One of the most important attributes of athleticism is speed. It can differentiate good players from great players, and it's one of the most sought-after abilities on the playing field—regardless of the sport.
Speed training drills must be learned correctly and practiced constantly to truly enhance your speed. You need to perform drills that enhance the four basic components of speed training: Stride Length, Stride Frequency, Acceleration and Speed Endurance. Below are speed training drills that emphasize each one. These speed training drills work for athletes of any sport.
Speed Training Drills
Stride Length: The amount of distance covered between strides. A product of proper running form and force generated off the ground.
Stride Length Training Drill: Forward Bounding
- Forcefully alternate strides
- Focus on maintaining extension in back leg
- Contact ground with balls of feet
Sets/Distance: 4x30 yards
The number of strides within a given distance. This is a combination of how fast you can move through the stride cycle and ground contact time.
Stride Speed Training Drill: Quick Feet to High Knee Drill
- Start drill with small strides, bounding as fast as possible
- Take small, fast steps and land on balls of feet
- Gradually move into High Knees, forcefully driving up knees
Sets/Distance: 4x15 yards (five yards of Quick Feet; 10 yards of High Knees)
Acceleration: The ability to increase speed over a given distance. Usually from a stationary or slow-moving situation to full speed, with emphasis on push-off force.
Acceleration Drill: Med Ball Push to Sprint
- Select med ball you can easily throw 10 feet or more
- Start in staggered stance and drive ball out as far as possible
- While driving ball out, start sprinting
- Sprint 30 yards
Sets/Distance: 4x30 yards
Speed Endurance: The ability to support top speed over a given period. Largely improved by anaerobic interval conditioning.
Speed Endurance Drill: Interval Sprints
Perform these at full speed with monitored rest periods. Pick a distance proper to your sport (see below). Gradually decrease the rest-to-work ratio. Start at 3:1 and then move to 2:1 and so forth.
- Football — 20 to 40 yards
- Basketball — 10 yards
- Baseball — 30 yards
When starting to develop a speed training program, make sure that you begin with the basics and move up progressively. If you can consistently do the simple things well, you will build a great foundation of speed that will be perfected over the course of your career.
Read these articles for more great speed training drills: