Want to become the fastest player on the field? Build instant speed with two simple drills designed to create lower-body power: Hill Sprints and Prowler Sprints.
Many athletes trying to increase speed get caught up in performing set after set of Skips and Agility Ladder drills. Although they are great for warming up and improving agility and footwork, they won’t do much for increasing actual speed.
One of the fastest ways to build real speed is improving lower-body power. The more power you put into the ground, the more ground you will cover with each stride and the faster you’ll run. Lower-body power improves everything from acceleration to top-end speed.
Build lower-body power by performing Hill Sprints and Prowler Sprints at the beginning of your speed workout, once or twice per week.
Hill Sprints are among my favorite speed drills because all they require is a hill and a pair of cleats. Hill Sprints are great for strengthening the muscles involved in acceleration since they require you to constantly push yourself uphill, forcing you to produce an aggressive knee lift and powerful arm action. The incline of the hill also helps you reduce the risk of hamstring injury since it prevents top speeds.
Sets/Reps: 3x6 with one-minute rest between sprints and five-minute rest between sets
Challenge yourself with several Hill Sprint variations.
While Prowler Sprints are famous for conditioning, they’re also among the best drills for increasing speed. Since the Prowler prevents you from producing an arm drive, this drill is all about building lower-body power. Prowler Sprints also allow you to change the target of the exercise by adjusting your hand position. Hold the high poles to focus on the hamstrings and glutes (top speed) or low handles to target the quads (acceleration).
Sets/Reps: 3-5x5 each position with 30-seconds rest between reps and five-minute rest between sets
You can also build the lower-body power you need for speed in the weight room. Check out two speed workouts you can perform in the gym.
A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is a head strength coach at Middle Tennessee State University, where he also aids in day-to-day physical and nutritional development. Spray earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee and is CSCS, SCCC, USAW, NSCA, NASE, FMS and CSCCa certified. He is the 2011 NSCA Assistant Strength Coach of the Year. He is also a USA Weightlifting Club coach and a certified physical therapy aide. Spray has trained athletes ranging from high school to the professional and Olympic levels. He has been featured in Premier Players Magazine and is the head sports performance adviser for RSP Nutrition.