3 Acceleration Drills for a Faster First Step

These drills will add variety to your acceleration training and help you get faster and more explosive.

Accelerating quickly is a critical skill because most sports involve extremely short sprints. Outside of track, athletes have few opportunities to run in a straight line for more than 20 to 40 meters.

Since running in a straight line repeatedly can get old fast, here are some additional drills to help you improve your acceleration.

Acceleration Drills

Tennis Ball Sprints

This drill works on your reaction time and your ability to start explosively and increase your speed.

How-to:

  • You need a partner, a tennis ball, and an open space.
  • Stand facing your partner with at least 10 feet between you.
  • Get in an athletic stance (feet hip-width apart, weight on the balls of your feet, chest out, shoulders back, hips pushed back slightly, slight bend in your knees, hands ready).
  • Your partner holds the tennis ball at shoulder level and drops it.
  • Run to the ball as fast as you can and try to grab it before it bounces a second time. If this is easy, take a few steps back.

Partner-Resisted Starts

This acceleration drill teaches you how to take the first few steps of a sprint explosively.

How-to:

  • Stand facing your partner.
  • Get into an athletic stance.
  • Your partner leans forward and places his or her hands on the front of your shoulders.
  • Attempt to sprint forward while your partner applies resistance.

It is important to maintain good form while executing this drill, which is normally done for 5 meters with resistance, then another 5 to 20 meters without.

Standing Long Jump

This simple but important exercise teaches you to use your strength to overcome inertia and go from a resting state to a fast sprint. To perform it, you only need a flat, open space.

How-to:

  • Stand at the start line in an athletic stance.
  • Quickly move into a quarter squat while swinging your arms back.
  • Without pausing, swing your arms to the front and drive your body forward.

Remember, the Standing Long Jump requires an all-out effort. That means you should perform the Jump and reset before attempting another one.

RELATED: Plyometric Workouts for Speed and Acceleration

Sample Acceleration Training Program

Day One

  • Back Squats: 3x4-8 @ 75-85%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x4-8
  • Bench Press: 3x4-8 @ 75-85%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x4-8
  • Military Press: 3x4-8
  • Mobility Drills: 10 minutes
  • Sprints: 3-5x5-10 meters
  • Tennis-Ball Sprints: 3-5x
  • Bounds: 3x20 meters

Day Two

  • Power Clean: 3x3-6 @ 60-70%
  • Push Jerk: 3x3-6 @ 60-70%
  • Clean Pulls: 3x6 @ 70-80%
  • Standing Long Jump: 10x

Day Three

Conditioning circuit. Perform each exercise for 20-30 seconds with minimal rest between exercises. Do the circuit 2-3 times.

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Kettlebell Snatch
  • Bear Crawls
  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Push-Ups
  • Kettlebell Jerk
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squats
  • Lunges
  • Kettlebell Romanian Deadlifts
  • Inchworms

Day Four

  • Front Squats: 3x4-8 @ 70-80%
  • Good Mornings: 3x8-12
  • Incline Press: 3x8-12
  • Pull-Ups: 3xmax
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3x8-12
  • Mobility Drills: 10 minutes
  • Sprints: 3-5x20-30 meters
  • Partner-Resisted Starts: 3-5x5 meters + 10-meter sprint without resistance

Day Five

  • Power Snatch: 3x3-6 @ 60-70%
  • Overhead Squats: 3x3-6
  • Snatch Pulls: 3x6 @ 60-70%


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TENNIS | MOBILITY | POWER | EXERCISE | CLEAN | PRESS | SPRINT | DRILL | TRACK | STANCE | SWING | TENNIS BALL | SNATCH | KETTLEBELL