Have you ever seen a wide receive explode off the line of scrimmage? A point guard hit the hole with force? A track athlete look like their floating? If you have, you may have thought to yourself what speed training exercises are these athletes doing to create this acceleration.
Regardless the sport of play, speed is essential to taking athletic performance to the next level.
When working with athletes, in reference to speed training, the first step is always to ensure a proper posture and position through the acceleration.
Below are 7 drills you can integrate into your training to becoming a more explosive, speed dominant athlete. Some of these drills have been hand picked from two of the most elite level sports performance coaches in the country. Steve Breitenstein, Sports Performance Specialist at TCBoost and host of "The Speed Podcast" & Nick Brattain, Founder of Brattain Sports Performance.
These drills can be incorporated to increase an athlete's explosive speed mechanics in sports like football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis and track.
1. Banded 1 Step - Performed From 2pt or 3pt Stance
Purpose: Feel a maximum extension push from starting position
KPI: Torso and front shin angle are the same / Full extension of back knee and push through the toe
Helpful For: Athletes lacking power in the first step & athletes who step out of their setup vs. exploding off both feet
2. Varying Distance Build up to Wicket Run or Low Hurdle Run
Purpose: Natural transition to top end speed positioning. The short build up forces athlete to continue to accelerate as they transition
KPI: Minimal coaching needed / Athlete should be tall with head over hip / Ground contact time should be minimal, with bounce to stride
Helpful For: Athletes looking to improve top end speed efficiency / Athletes who struggle to accelerate through transition to top end posture / Varying buildup distance also keeps the athlete learning instead of always setting the same distance
3. PVC Overhead A Run
In the video below you will see the athlete holding a PVC Pipe over head. The cue used is, "Scrape the ceiling with the stick". The intent is to find full extension through the ankle, knee, and hip while also creating a neutral hip and inevitably lumber spine position. Perform this drill following your form running series (as part of the warm up) but prior to any running.
4. A Run to Acceleration
In this drill the athlete performs an A Run for 5 yards, then leans into an acceleration covering 10-15 yards. The explanation is given to the athlete that the A Run and the acceleration should look the exact same. All you are doing in changing the angle of the body.
Two ideas to focus on:
1) Keep the Hips through/forward/extended
2) Maintain the same rhythm with feet. (you should not be able to hear the point where the athlete leaned into the acceleration)
5. Sled A March - A Run
Many coaches are familiar with and use the Wall Runs (later in this series). The sled series is a next step in that process. By using this tool you can now put the same ideas demonstrated at the wall into a controlled motion. By using the sled you still have a closed drill that creates stability for the athlete (especially those with a weak core musculature), but also allows them to create more force. Begin with the A March for reps of 10-15 yards. After the athlete is able to perform this exercise with proper posture, foot contact and limb swing, incorporate the A Run.
The Skip exaggerates that push-off force from the ground at the ball of the foot. When you do this drill, it's important to maintain dorsiflexion in your foot as you raise it to your opposite knee. Keep an erect torso and swing your hands in opposition to your legs. Begin by marching slowly, feeling out each portion of the drill. Once you have it down, proceed to the Skip.
7. Wall Drills
Like the A-Skip, the leg must come up at a 90-degree angle. The difference is that you are leaning forward. The power line—spine, hip and leg alignment—should be at a 45-degree angle. Hands should be placed firmly against the wall. Heels should be slightly off the ground, just enough to slide a piece of paper underneath. Engage your core the entire time, and don't allow your hips to slip back. Progression of the drill moves from a simple March through to a 4-count switch. Stay on the balls of your feet and maintain dorsiflexion of the foot.
Adding a speed training focus to your training regimen is important and will help you develop and harness speed.
These drills can easily be implemented into any training regiment. If you want to find more drills check out the VertiMax App which includes drills for every sport.
Jay Hyber is sports junkie, health seeker, athlete, and mentor to #TeamVertiMax. He helps coaches and business owners achieve their goals. Whether they are an athlete looking to improve their speed, agility, and vertical; a coach looking to help their athletes gain an edge, or a sports performance owner or trainer seeking new ways to increase their business...Please feel free to contact regarding interview opportunities on fitness, coaching and athletic subjects important to you.