4 Highly Effective Speed Drills | STACK Coaches and Trainers

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

4 Highly Effective Drills to Increase Speed

September 24, 2012 | Brandon M. Wood

Must See Speed Videos

Physically, the most effective athlete is a fast one. Speed is partly a matter of genetics, but it's also a skill that can be taught and learned through proper training. When beginning a speed program with athletes and teams, it's important to set a strong physical and mechanical foundation. When you do this correctly, you will see instant gains. (See STACK's Get Faster Guide.)

Below are four simple but extremely effective drills to increase your athletes' speed:

Seated Arm Action Swing - 2-3x10-20 seconds, each set at a different tempo, the last being the fastest.

Proper arm action will get your athletes moving faster with less energy expenditure and wasted movement. Moving their arms through the full range of motion also enables their legs to do so, as they work together in unison.

  • Have your athletes sit down on the ground with their legs straight, chests up tall and heads positioned straight ahead.
  • Position their arms at 90-degree angles. Being seated forces the athletes to keep their arms bent so they will not straighten and hit the ground.
  • Keep hands open and fingers apart. Coaches have different opinions on this technique, but I find that athletes with closed hands tend to tense up and shorten their arm action and stride.
  • On your queue, have your athletes drive their elbows back aggressively, moving their front hands up to their chins and their back hands to their back pocket, making sure to move their arms through the full range of motion.
  • You can also have them swing their arms for a time period at three speeds: slow, moderate and as fast as possible.

Single/Double Groiners - 2-3x10-20 seconds. Start with single groiners and end with double groiners.

Many ahletes lack the strength and flexibility to drive their knees effectively when running. Single/double groiners are an effective way to increase the strength of the muscles responsible for driving the knee (hip flexors) and actively stretching the musculature of the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes).

  • Start your athletes in push-up position with their shoulders over their hands but with their hands closer together than a regular Push-Up to avoid hitting themselves with their feet.
  • Drive knee(s) forward as far as possible until one foot (single-leg groiner) or both feet (double-leg  groiner) land in line with and just outside of their hands. Drive one or both feet back to starting stance after each rep.

Mountain Climbers - 2-3x10-20 seconds. Start with alternating reps and end with continuous reps.

Most people know what mountain climbers are without appreciating all their benefits. Besides their physical benefits, mountain climbers are a quick and easy way to teach acceleration mechanics.

  • Start your athletes in push-up position with their shoulders over their hands. This simulates a good forward lean, which is necessary for great acceleration.
  • Keep their hips even with their shoulders; keep them extended without raising up or bouncing.
  • Drive knee forward to under chest with foot under hip (anything past the hip risks over-striding, as opposed to single/double groiners, where the focus is on strengthening musculature instead of technique). The opposite leg should punch back and lock out in fully extended position.
  • Make sure your athletes avoid performing "butt kicks," as this teaches improper running technique.
  • Do this drill for single or continuous reps at various tempos.

Falling Starts - 2-4 x each stance, starting with standing, then staggered or symmetrical, and ending with a position-specific stance

A big reason some athletes are slow in their first step is that they lack an aggressive forward lean. Generating speed requires maintaining a hard lean forward for a given distance, or until your sport requires you to come up.

  • Position your athletes in a standing, staggered, symmetrical or sport-specific stance.
  • On your queue, have them fall forward until they can effectively burst out at or near a 45-degree angle (which might take practice for some to achieve).
  • Tell your athletes to drive their hips and knees forward, keep their chests down and punch back with their feet. This will activate appropriate musculature to generate maximal power.
  • The goal is to keep the forward lean for 10 to 12 yards (five to eight yards for younger athletes) as they gradually rise up.


Brandon Wood
- Brandon Wood is the Director of Team Training and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J. His drive...
Brandon Wood
- Brandon Wood is the Director of Team Training and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J. His drive...
Must See
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,307,107
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 545,210
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 2,761,355

Featured Videos

Dwight Howard Ab Workout Views: 62,466
John Wall Elbow-to-Elbow Shooting Drill Views: 186,408
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Build Explosive Power With Contrast Training Views: 17,723
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colby Lewis's Post-Game Band Splitter Routine
Views: 8,349,368
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,988,602
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,610
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,504
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,175,033

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Multidirectional Run

Ditch the Sprints. Here's How to Build True Sports Speed

3 Box Drills That Develop True Game Speed

Previewing the Fastest Draft Prospects of the 2015 NFL Combine

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Track Sprints

3 Biggest Myths About Soccer Speed

3 Speed Training Essentials You Must Develop to Get Faster

Improve Your Baseball Speed With This On-Field Workout

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

8 Positions to Lower Your 40-Yard-Dash Time

How to Safely Decelerate Faster

3 Simple Tips to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash

Rev Up Your Sprint Training With These Complexes

Get Faster With 'The .10 Second Difference' From EXOS

10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Faster

Linear Speed Drills to Improve Athleticism

How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

Stability Training Can Improve Your Agility and Range of Motion

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

Increase Your Lacrosse Speed With Multi-Directional Exercises

4 Powerful Band Agility Drills

Build Game-Breaking Speed With This Exercise

Lengthen Your Stride for Maximum Speed

Improve Your Football 40 Time During the Season

Acceleration Drills to Increase Speed

The Off-Season Baseball Speed and Agility Workout Program

Get More Explosive Off the Line of Scrimmage Like DeSean Jackson

Build Sprint Speed Like an Olympian

Burn Your Competition with This Sprint Workout

The 5 Elements of a Successful Speed Training Program

Sprint Faster With Speed Demons

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Ladder Drills

STACK Challenge: 300-Yard Shuttle

Get the Most Out of Foam Rolling

How to Build First-Step Quickness for Baseball and Softball

3 Speed Drills to Help You Sprint Faster and Lower Your 40 Time

Skipping Drills: The Missing Link From Your Speed Workouts

8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

Build Strength for Baseball and Softball Speed

12-Week Off-Season Baseball Speed Workout

Here's Why Andre Williams' Breakout Performance Was No Fluke

Speed Plyometrics to Help You Run Faster

Get Faster With the Ultimate Stair Workout

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Treadmill Challenge

3 Speed Workouts to Improve Your Top-End Sprints

5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

The Speed Drill That Set Up DeSean Jackson's 64-Yard Touchdown

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed