Size, strength and power are notable athletic qualities. But the real attention-getter on the field, court or ice is the coveted combination of speed and endurance. It often becomes the offensive or defensive game-winning formula.
Imagine the breakaway speed of a hockey player scoring a crucial overtime goal, or a wide receiver outracing a cornerback down the sideline for a clutch TD, or a swift outfielder making a game-saving diving catch.
Practice the speed and endurance drills below to gain a competitive edge late in games and throughout the season while your opponents are fatiguing. Adding speed and endurance components to complement size, strength and power can distinguish you among teammates and opponents—making you a sought-after complete athlete during tryouts or on draft day!
Bonus: Some drills involve using a moderately heavy weight plate or medicine ball, so you’ll simultaneously boost size, strength and power.
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- Weight plate (80% 1RM) or medicine ball (80% 1RM)
- 4 cones (or other markers)
- Exercise mat
- Water bottle
- Perform an upper- and lower-body dynamic warm-up (e.g., Frankenstein Walks, Lunges and Arm Circles).
- Finish with cool-down upper- and lower-body static stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
- Hydrate before, during and after each speed and endurance session.
- Practice the drills on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
- Perform the drills in any sequence either outdoors in a spacious area or indoors in a sports performance facility with a long and wide turf field.
- Sets: 3
- Rest: 30 seconds between sets and 30 seconds between drills, simulating breaks during sports action while also improving endurance.
Reverse Sprints and Cariocas
- Arrange cones in a T-formation spread 10 yards apart (cones are labeled ABCD during the drill description).
- Hold a plate or med ball close to your chest.
- Starting from cone A, backpedal to cone B, then cariocas (right) to cone C and cariocas (left) to cone D, then cariocas to cone B, and backpedal to cone A.
- Repeat twice more, resting between sets.
This is a more defensive-oriented drill (e.g., backpedaling on the basketball court or football field, or skating backwards in hockey while short-handed during a penalty and then quickly turning direction laterally to cover your opponent.
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Squat Thrusts/Mountain Climbers Superset
This combo drill promotes lower-body explosive power and endurance.
- Do 45 seconds of Squat Thrusts immediately followed with 45 seconds of Mountain Climbers.
- Hydrate and repeat twice more.
Prone, Supine and Side Planks Superset with Zig-Zag Sprints
Rising quickly off the turf, court or ice from a prone, supine or side position and getting back on offense or defense requires split-second speed.
- Arrange cones in a zig-zag left-right-left (diagonal) pattern 10 yards apart and describe the cones as ABCD, like in the first drill.
- Have the ball or plate near you as you start in a prone Plank position by cone A.
- Reach for the weighted ball or plate, rise up and sprint diagonally left to cone B, then diagonally right to C, and diagonally left to D.
- Turn around and reverse the DCBA pattern to start.
- Rest and hydrate.
- Next, assume a supine Plank position, grab the ball or plate and sprint diagonally to each cone and back.
- Set 3 combines the Plank and diagonal sprints from a side Plank stance.
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Sprint-In-Place/Med Ball Push-Up Superset
This drill builds endurance, speed, and upper-body strength and size.
- Sprint in place as fast as possible, leaning slightly forward and driving your arms up and down close to your sides and driving your knees up toward your waist for 45 seconds.
- Immediately assume a Push-Up position with your hands atop the medicine ball and do 12 Push-Ups.
Forward and Reverse Sprints/Exercise Mat Drill
This drill enhances speed and lower- and upper-body muscular endurance.
- Set two cones (A and B) 20 yards apart.
- Place the exercise mat horizontally lengthwise in front of cone A.
- Assume a Push-Up position at the right edge of the mat and rapidly walk with your hands and feet laterally from one end of the mat to the other and back five times.
- Immediately rise and sprint forward to cone B and reverse sprint to cone A.
- Rest, hydrate and repeat twice more.