Success in most sports is based heavily on the ability to accelerate quickly and efficiently. This is because most sports primarily require short bursts of speed before the athlete stops, slows down or changes direction. The exception is track and field sprinters, where the acceleration portion of speed development is critical because it sets up the rest of the race. But even sports like soccer, traditionally trained using long slow runs and intervals, require a shift in emphasis to acceleration development. Success in these ‘endurance’ sports still depend on short periods of acceleration in order to get to a loose ball, breakaway from an opponent and get back on defense.
So there’s little point in doing speed training workouts if you haven’t first mastered the ability to accelerate. Here are some basic speed training workouts that you can do in order to improve the ability to accelerate. For our purposes we are talking about runs from 0 – 30 yards.
But before you begin, regardless of your sport or beliefs about training speed, there are some things you need to remember when it comes to acceleration development.
- Full recovery between repetitions is required.
- Full recovery means rest approximately one minute for every 10 yards that you run.
- ‘Don’t train speed every day.
- The more force you apply to the ground, the faster you’ll pick up speed
- Make sure that your feet land beneath the hips.
- The heels should never touch the ground when doing speed work.
- You run faster when you stay relaxed then when you strain.
I like to start the training season with short runs up hill because this forces athletes to really drive the foot down into the ground in order to gain momentum. The ability to apply force into the ground with each stride is the driving force (pun intended) behind getting faster. I like to use fairly steep hills, that way the requirements in steps 4-7 above really become more pronounced. When you don’t follow those criteria, it becomes extremely difficult to accelerate quickly.
- 10 x 20y uphill or on a flat surface from standing start. 2 minute rest.
- 10 x 30y uphill or on a flat surface from (push up down position, 3 point stance or seated). 3 minutes rest.
As you can see, speed training workouts themselves aren’t especially complicated or fancy. The results come from following the 7 rules I mentioned earlier, mastering technique by using speed drills and improving strength by lifting weights. In all, the key is to follow a comprehensive and complete speed training program that will not only teach you the types of workouts that improve speed but also the many other elements of training that compliment your speed work and develop overall athletic ability. By looking for short cuts and quick answers, you’ll see inconsistent and frustrating results. But when your speed training workouts fit into a well designed training plan, you’ll get results that you didn’t realize could occur so quickly and easily.