Basic Speed Drills for Young Athletes

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Warm-Up Speed Drill

As a young athlete—whether you are the fastest player on the field or trying to get better—now is the time to boost your speed. If you perfect your technique at a young age, you will have a solid foundation to continue improving upon as your body matures and develops.

The best way to accomplish this is by focusing on the fundamentals of speed. You will see improvements in the short term, but the real value of these drills will be realized in the long run.

Perform the drills one to two times per week on your speed days to increase speed and fortify your running technique.

Hip Flexion
This is the action of bringing the knees up when sprinting. It contributes to the amount of force you can put into ground and the distance you can cover with each stride.

High Knee March

  • Assume athletic stance with six-inch hurdle in front
  • Step over hurdle with high knees
  • Continue marching with high knees for specified distance

Sets/Distance: 5x5 yards

Arm Drive
The swinging motion of the arms can actually increase speed by generating upper-body power, increasing stride frequency and maintaining fluidity and cadence.

Seated Arm Swings

  • Sit on ground with back straight and arms in ready position
  • Swing arms as if running with elbows at 90-degree angle
  • Gradually increase speed
  • Repeat for specified time

Sets/Duration: 5x10 seconds

Forward Lean
A forward lean puts your center of gravity out in front of your center of mass, allowing the power produced while running to flow in a horizontal, rather than a vertical, direction and increase your speed.

Wall Runs

  • Stand facing wall, approximately three to four feet away
  • Lean forward and place hands on wall at shoulder height
  • Run in place; flex hips as much as possible during each stride
  • Repeat for specified time

Sets/Duration: 5x10 seconds

Ground Force Production
This is the amount of force you put into the ground when your foot makes contact. The more force you produce, the faster you will run.

Power Skips

  • Assume starting stance
  • Skip as high as possible for specified distance
  • Focus on powerful arm drive and pushing off balls of feet

Sets/Distance: 5x20 yards


Wray Watkins is the director of strength and conditioning at MVP Sports Centers in Lake Forest, Calif. He has worked with athletes from the NFL, MLB and MLS, as well as several Olympic Gold Medalists. Watkins also runs an international internship program through MVP. He received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from San Diego State University in 2002.

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