Great top-end sprinting speed is needed for nearly every sport. If you’re not the fastest player on your team, or in your league, then there is room for improvement.
Becoming faster will allow you to blow by your defenders, and beat other players to a spot or to the ball. There are few things more demoralizing than trying to defend someone who is faster than you.
If you want to improve your speed, you should already be using a great strength training program. Unless you are very experienced in the weight room and study the science of strength training, do not try to create a strength program yourself. There are many free strength programs on the internet designed by experienced, reputable strength coaches to help you become stronger as fast as possible. You will end up wasting a lot of your time trying to create a program that is better than what an expert in the field has created.
If you want to know how to get started with strength training, check out my post on the best simple strength training programs for athletes, which you can see here.
Improved your strength is one of the best ways to way to improve your speed. Strength is probably the weakest physical quality in most young athletes. Young athletes sprint and jump quite regularly in their sports, however they rarely do anything that requires high levels of overall strength. Most strength coaches believe that strength is the base for all other athletic qualities, including speed and jumping ability. Improve your strength and you will see an improvement in your overall athleticism.
Once you have chosen a good strength training program, then you can add in speed and agility drills. Below, I have listed some of my favorite drills for developing speed:
All of the drills in this video are great for building top-end speed. They require reaction to different stimuli (sound, movement, chase tennis ball). The coach in the video says to do each drill twice, which adds up to 10 total sprints, at the end of each of your lower body workouts.
Personally, I prefer to put sprinting drills at the beginning of my workouts, right after the warm-up. Doing the sprinting drills before lifting weights allows you to do the drills while you are fresh. They fatigue you much less than your strength training will. Strength training before your sprinting drills will fatigue you heavily, not allowing you to focus completely on the sprinting drills or reach top speeds. On the other hand, sprinting before your strength training will barely have any negative effects on your strength training.
For each drill, focus on good sprinting form. Keep your elbows in and tight to your body. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and move in a straight line, forward and back. Also, focus on driving your knees up explosively. These are things that will be focused on in the next drills.
Drills 6 and 7 – A & B Skip
These two drills are best used immediately following your dynamic stretching and general warm-up, prior to your sprinting drills. These drills, along with the C skip, work on specific aspects of the sprinting motion. Specifically, the A and B skip work on driving your knees up and forward quickly, helping increase your turnover.
These drills also allow you to focus on your upper body movement. Again, keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, tight your body, and moving only forward and back.
Add a few sets of these drills before all of your sprinting workouts. They are a great specific warm-up for sprinting.
Drill 8 – C Skip
The C skip drill is very similar to the A and B skip drills shown above. It works on a specific phase of sprinting. This drill will help you learn to contract the hamstrings quickly, bringing your heel to your buttocks, and then drive the knee quickly forward. All three of these drills will help you increase your turnover rate.
Again, use this immediately after your general warm-up and dynamic stretching, and prior to your actual sprinting drills.
Drill 9 – Wall High Knees
This is another drill that can be used to help improve turnover rate and learn to drive your knees up quickly. Again, this drill is best used as a specific warm-up prior to your actual sprinting drills. It is very similar to A and B skips.
The drill can be done both with and without band resistance, both are shown in the video.
Drill 10 – Push Up Start
The push up start is a great overall sprinting drill. This drill teaches you to start low during the acceleration phase of sprinting and to drive forward hard for the first few steps. Also, it is a great drill to work on recovery from falling down. Use this drill in your main sprinting workouts after your warm-up.