Make your science teacher proud and your track coach happy by increasing your running speed with the Heel Up drill. This exercise applies Newton’s Third Law of Motion—”for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”—and I can confidently recommend it. Pursuant to Newton’s law, the Heel Up drill teaches proper backside mechanics, allowing you to run faster by bringing your heel up in recovery, stepping over the opposite knee and driving the leg down into the ground to apply force.
To better understand the drill, envision your legs movements when you’re running or sprinting. It’s like a bicycle pedaling action; your support leg is on the ground and your free recovery leg goes into backside mechanics. After the free leg foot touches the ground, it goes into recovery using backside mechanics by coming up underneath the glute, over the opposite knee and back down into the ground.
The Heel Up drill can be performed every day as part of your speed development program. When you first perform it, take your time until you master the technique. Go for 10 yards, then rest. Repeat three times. When you can perform it correctly every time, increase the distance to 15 yards, and then to 20.
Heel Up Drill
- Stand tall with hips and chest up
- Head neutral, eyes look straight ahead
- Shoulders down in natural position
- Arms at sides; palms face body
- Raise right knee (free leg); left leg is support leg
- Bend right arm at elbow, thumb faces right rear pocket (as if you were reaching for your wallet)
- Bend left arm at elbow and hold it in front in closed position with fingers extended
- Move down the field slowly, changing from right leg to left by bringing knee up and heel underneath glute with heel fixed in locked position
- When you feel comfortable with the correct technique, increase speed