Speed is king. The more speed an athlete has, the wider his or her athletic window becomes. Speed comes in many forms: linear speed, lateral speed and top speed.
Building speed is not just about running random drills at the snap of a finger and hoping for a good result. With linear speed as the focus, here are several keys to consider when training for speed.
Alignment and posture for acceleration
To increase linear speed, you must be able to position yourself to accelerate out of the gates quickly. Position is all about properly loading the different parts of the body with good posture. In an accelerated posture, your ankle should be dorsiflexed and loaded, your hips should be under your shoulders, and your pelvis should remain neutral. Next, arm action should occur at the shoulder and be fast, long and rigid. The Wall Piston and Arm Swing drills in the videos above focus on maintaining a stable posture with proper loading of the foot/ankle and powerful arm/leg action. The focus should always be on the athlete staying stiff with good foot/ankle position.
RELATED: The Sprint Form Checklist
Beating your first and second step
Take yourself back to first-grade recess and imagine yourself racing your friends on the pavement to win the heart of Jenny, your first-grade heartthrob. You lost and looked like a fool in front of Jenny because of your first and second step.
Whether it's going after the ball, stealing a base, or racing to catch Jenny's eye, the main thing that will slow you down is getting "stuck" in your first and second step, which ultimately stunts the acceleration process and your ability to reach top speed. Assisted acceleration drills are a great way to teach you how to load your hip and ankle to drive yourself down and back to get out and over your first and second step. View the Rock 'n Roll and Falling Start drills in the videos above.
Posture for top-end speed
Just as posture is important while talking to your girlfriend's dad for the first time, maintaining good stability and posture at top speeds is crucial for elite performance. A lot of athletes display poor ability to control their trunk and pelvis at top speeds, which can lead to energy leaking when speed and power demands pick up.
The Hot Coal drill above is a great tool to build the capacity to maintain posture and core stiffness for increased speed. Sled and Band-Resisted Sprints, and 10- to 30-meter sprints, are excellent drills to build top speed at greater distances once posture and stiffness is honed.
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