Team sport athletes often have to change direction and accelerate on a dime from many different angles, foot positions and postures—and often with objects in their hands.
Here are 16 acceleration starts to keep your speed training fresh. The better you execute your speed drills, the more you will get out of your speed sessions—so start with drills you can execute properly. You shouldn’t feel unbalanced, slow or have to think about what’s going on: Just focus on running fast!
In addition, working with a certified strength and conditioning coach can give you the feedback and cues you need to dramatically improve your speed.
1. Push-Up Start to Sprint
This is great for beginners because it starts them low and without the stress of requiring perfect posture. It allows them to find the acceleration angle a bit more naturally and push out low while trying to maintain a positive acceleration angle.
2. Rollover To Sprint
Starting on their backs, athletes are forced to brace and fire their core and quickly get into accelerating. This teaches coordinating movements, reacting quickly and bursting out and accelerating from a low position.
3. Lateral Push-Up to Sprint
A simple variation on the Push-Up Start, with a new angle.
4. Mountain Climber To Sprint (static)
The athlete starts with one leg up in the sprinting position. He or she has to really push hard off the first step, which is important for acceleration. To execute this drill properly, the athlete must possess an abundance of single-leg and core strength.
5. Mountain Climber to Sprint (dynamic)
Adding the dynamic portion of piston-like leg action allows athletes to prime their movement pattern, find their rhythm and explode out from their stance.
6. Half-Kneeling Start
Starting from a more upright position demands more from the core and legs, especially from a static position. With one knee still on the ground, an athlete can lean over one leg to find an angle and drive out forcefully.
7. Half-Kneeling Start (elevated)
The elevated version requires more strength and stability in the legs and core, allowing for a greater forward lean, which leads to big, powerful steps.
8. Falling Starts
Starting on the toes and slowly falling forward causes the front thigh to pop fast, so the athlete can reflexively get into a good sprint angle. Normally, the athlete might start a bit taller, but this approach helps him or her get that first “thigh pop” and attack back through the ground.
9. 2-Part Start (rolling)
Starting from a more flexed hip position allows the athlete to really push through both legs and extend through the hips. This variation seems simple, but there are a lot of moving parts to be aware of to squeeze the most out of this drill.
10. Load and Lift
Starting from one leg helps build strength and power through that leg. And starting with the rear foot elevated teaches the athlete to push through the hip of the lowered leg and swing the back leg through and into their sprint.
11. Push-Up to Med Ball Throw
Adding a medicine ball to the Push-Up gets the arms involved and out in front in the acceleration phase. Also, starting in the lower position requires a solid base of strength and coordination, since there is additional weight and complexity.
12. Underhand Scoop Toss to Sprint
Mainly used to help athletes “pop” through their hips, this adds a fun and competitive twist to throwing a medicine ball. Typically, the further the throw, the better the first step in this drill.
13. MedBall Chest Pass to Sprint
Adding the med ball pass helps athletes coordinate the first push through their entire body, while adding instant feedback and fun as they throw for distance.
14. Jumpback to Sprint
Adding a small backward jump puts the athlete into a positive sprinting angle for acceleration, because the feet travel back and the center of mass stays out front, forcing acceleration.
15. Linear Rapid Response to Sprint
Starting with moving feet adds a reactive and small plyometric effect to the sprint. Start with the arms and legs moving in a similar fashion to help coordinate sprint footwork.
16. Jumpback Sprint With Medball
Adding the medicine ball brings the arms out in front and adds a fun and competitive element to the sprint.