The sad truth is that you’re probably not letting yourself run as fast as you can actually run. The good news? To improve your speed, you don’t need to go anywhere.
One of the best ways to get faster is to perform Wall Sprints, drills that allow you to focus on your technique with each step.
“You’re able to learn proper sprint mechanics one stride at a time, make corrections and gradually progress to a faster pace,” says Marty Thompson, director of performance at T3 Performance in Avon, Ohio. Thompson has trained NFL, NBA and MLB athletes for more than a decade.
These Wall Drills allow you to “sprint” without actually running, which helps you get used to the feel of the “power line” position, where your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles all form a line that’s angled about 45 degrees from the ground. This position is the ideal form to propel yourself forward and allow your muscles to exert maximum power. And since you’re not covering any ground, Wall Drills let you focus on the movement itself, helping you develop muscle memory.
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As you get the feel of the drill, you can increase your foot speed until it feels like you’re sprinting in place. Perform the drill enough, and proper technique will become second nature to you. You’ll be able to draw more power from your legs and hips, allowing you to accelerate faster.
The Power Line
1. Body Angle
Your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should always be aligned, with your body positioned in a 45-degree angle to the ground.
2. High Knee Drive
Your thighs should be nearly perpendicular to your torso, allowing your hips to move through a full range of motion. If your knee drive is too low, you will have short and choppy strides that lack power.
3. Shin Angle
Your forward shin should be at the same angle as your rear shin (approximately 45 degrees). If your shin is perpendicular to the ground it will absorb your momentum and slow you down.
4. Ankle Position
Keep your feet dorsiflexed (i.e., toes pointed toward your shins). This engages your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to help transfer energy from your powerful hips and thighs through your foot and into the ground.
Wall Sprints Workout
Guidelines: Choose one static drill, one slow march drill and one fast march drill per session. Perform four to five sets total with one minute of rest between sets. Never sacrifice your form for speed. The goal is to master the technique, so moving faster without maintaining proper form defeats the purpose of the drill.
Position your hands on a wall in front of your shoulders with your arms straight. Step back until your body is at approximately a 45-degree angle. For an extra challenge, close your eyes.
Sets/Duration: 1×20 seconds
Static Single-Leg Stance
Same as the Static Stance, but lift one leg as shown above. This will be the starting position for the remaining exercises.
Sets/Duration: 1×20 seconds each leg.
Slow Single-Leg March
Starting from the single-leg stance, repeatedly lift and lower the same leg.
Sets/Reps: 1×8 each side.
Starting from the single-leg stance, march, alternating your legs.
Fast One-Count March
Assume the single-leg stance. Perform one march by switching from one leg to the other. Hold the landing for two seconds then switch legs. Continue in an alternating fashion.
Fast Two-Count March
Same as above, but perform two marches.
Fast Three-Count March
Same as above, but perform three marches.
Rapid Fire March
Assume the single-leg stance. Perform as many marches as possible in the specified duration.
Sets/Duration: 1-2×6-8 seconds