Speed Drills

Improve your sprint performance with speed training

Speed drills can enhance your sprint performance
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How can you train for sprints when much of your training focuses on endurance? Speed training through speed drills is one way to improve your sprint performance.

Sprint and Speed Training

Almost any sport can benefit from a combination of speed and endurance, but most athletes spend the bulk of their training time focused on endurance. With that in mind, speed drills are a great way to kick your performance up a notch.

Yet there is a caveat.

Sprint and speed training drills should be used only after a general level of fitness has been achieved. Your current fitness level should allow you to run steadily for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and you should have at least a 3-month base of consistent athletic activity prior to adding speed drills.

Speed drills, like the one discussed here, can be part of an interval training regimen and should be performed no more than twice a week, with at least two recovery days between workouts.

Sample Speed Training Drill

Let's take a look at a sample speed training drill beginning with a thorough warm up, and ending with a proper cool down.

Start With a Thorough Warm Up

Begin by jogging for 10 minutes at an easy slow pace. This is followed by some simple range of motion stretches for your shoulders, hips, ankles, neck, trunk, and head. Move slowly and breathe deeply.

Maintain Proper FormĀ 

Good form is essential to get results and avoid added stress to your body during the drills.

Good form means maintaining proper posture while focusing on how you move not just how fast you move. To ensure proper form, you should not be fatigued when you start drills. If you are feeling fatigued, it's best to wait and do your drills at another time when you are feeling refreshed and well rested.

Your form is the first thing to suffer when you are tired. Drills should be done wearing trainers and not spikes.

To maintain proper form:

  • Avoid bending forward at the waist
  • Push from the balls of your feet (not your toes)
  • Focus your vision to the end of the course
  • Keep smooth forward/backward arm swings (not across the body)
  • Hands pump from shoulder height to hips (men) and from chest height to hips (women)
  • Elbows should be at 90 degrees at all times
  • Maintain relaxed arms, shoulders, and hands
  • Avoid head bobbing or twisting
  • Keep momentum forward and not side to side

20 Meter Drills

Perform the following drills 2-3 times each session.

  • High-step walking: Lifting knees up to hip level
  • High-step jogging: Lifting knees up to hip level
  • Skipping
  • Crossovers: Jog sideways while crossing right leg over left leg, then left over right leg
  • Heel kicks: While jogging kick heels to buttocks with each step
  • Ladder drills: One-foot contact per square
  • Plyometrics: Single leg hopping, bounding, bunny hops, tuck jumps, jumping obstacles

30 Meter Drills

Perform the following drills 2-3 times each session.

  • Double leg hops: Jump forward over cones or another marker
  • Zig Zag hops: Jump forward in a zig-zag pattern
  • One Leg lateral bounding: Jump sideways one leg, then the other

    Speed Drills

    • 5 reps / 10 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 4 point start) walk back. Take a 5-minute rest break between each set.
    • 5 reps / 20 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 3 point start).
    • 5 reps / 40 meters /100 percent effort (full out from a 3 point start).
    • 2-3 reps of flying 30-meter sprints at 100 percent for acceleration (built up over 20 meters and at max for 30 meters).

    Cool Down

    To cool down you can jog for 10 minutes at a slow, steady pace, and finish with gentle whole body stretching. Take a moment to look at these 10 tips to speed your recovery after exercise.

    Bottom Line on Training for Sprints With Speed Drills

    While most sports depend on a combination of speed and endurance, most workouts focus on endurance.

    Yet performing your best, especially when sprinting is required, workouts which focus on speed are important.

    The sample speed drill discussed can help you perform at your best, but should only be done when you are already in good physical condition, have been working out steadily for at least 3 months, and can easily run for 20 to 30 minutes. Even if you are in good physical condition, speed drills should be avoided if you are feeling fatigued. Make sure you maintain good form, have a thorough warm-up before, and allow for an adequate cool down after your drills.

    Sources:

    Born, D., Zinner, C., Duking, P., and B. Sperlich. Multi-Directional Sprint Training Improves Change-Of-Direction Speed and Reactive Agility in Young Highly Trained Soccer Players> Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2016. 15(2):314-9.

    Fernandez-Fernandez, J., Sanz, D., Sarabia, J., and M. Moya. The Effects of Sports-Specific Drills Training or High-Intensity Interval Training in Young Tennis Players. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 2017. 12(1):90-98.

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