Improving Stride Length and Frequency with Nebraska

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By Chad Zimmerman

Want to go from quick to sick? Then you need to improve your stride length and frequency. Matt Martin, University of Nebraska sprints and hurdles coach, adds his own flavor to a few common drills to work both elements. In his three years as coach, Martin has helped the Huskers earn nine individual Big 12 championships and one national title. Try his drills and see what they help you earn.

In and Outs

• Place cones at starting line, 30m mark, 50m mark, 60m mark and 80m mark
• Accelerate from startling line to 30m mark
• Sprint at top speed from 30m to 50m mark
• Stride from 50m to 60m mark
• Sprint at top speed from 60m to 80m mark
• Perform 1 set of 5 reps twice a week
• Use walk back to start as rest

Martin's Adaptation: The keys are to sprint at top speed during the 20-meter sections and to really focus on your arm swing and moving in the full range of motion. If you're swinging your arms correctly, your coach should be able to see your strides opening up.

Arm Swing Runs

• Stand in athletic position
• Pump arms in running motion
• Concentrate on driving arms straight forward and back
• Perform 3 sets of 30 seconds
• Repeat same motion while walking over 30-meter distance
• Perform 3 sets
• Repeat same motion while jogging over 60-meter distance
• Perform 3 sets

Martin's Adaptation: This drill teaches full range of motion. We tell our athletes to swing their arms forward like they're about to lick an ice cream cone. And when their arms go back, their hands should be able to reach into their back pockets. When you use that bigger arm swing, it's easier to take bigger strides, which increases your speed.

Acceleration Ladder

• Place 4-inch mini hurdles at increasing distances (see below)
• Sprint at top speed stepping over hurdles
• Focus on proper arm drive and leg cycle motion
• Perform 1 set of 5 reps twice a week
• Use walk back to start as rest

Martin's Adaptation: We use exact distances for the hurdle placement. The women have one set of distances and the men have another. Stepping over the hurdles develops the proper leg cycle motion of your running form. Focus on running all out and not worrying about the hurdles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock