Speed is a complex component of athleticism, but one that EVERYONE WANTS.
The pillars of explosive Speed are:
Sprint Technique – Athletes who apply the most force relative to body mass and in the right direction, are faster athletes. Without efficient sprinting technique you lose a lot of force as energy leaks. Athletes who run with poor technique get tired really quickly, they slow down and in some cases break down with injury.
When an athlete learns HOW to run, they apply maximum force through the foot into the ground in the right direction. This drives horizontal speed. The technique used for acceleration and for maximum speed are different and need to be coached correctly. Your goal is to find a coach who specialises in speed mechanics.
Speed Strength – Athletes who apply the most force relative to body mass and in the right direction, are faster athletes. Speed strength is your expression of Power. To be fast you must be strong in speed conditions. Strength relative to bodyweight is the foundation of Acceleration.
You need excellent postural strength and specific strength for speed. The stronger you are relative to your bodyweight the easier it is to propel your body forward and upward. Your goal is to create an explosive power to weight ratio through an evidence-based training plan.
RANGE OF MOTION
Range of Motion – We have already discussed sprint technique, but some athletes do not have the ability to hit some of the positions needed to drive good technique. For example: to be really fast an athlete needs to be able to achieve a high knee drive and have deliberate intent to drive the foot down to the ground as fast as possible. If an athlete has tight hips then achieving desired knee drive height may be impossible without specific time dedicated to hip mobility. Now imagine that the same athlete has very tight calf musculature.
The ability to pull the foot back into a dorsiflexed position (toes pulled back towards shin) so that the Achilles tendon can act as a spring upon foot strike is integral in achieving great speed. The athlete needs to dedicate time to regain lost calf length and elasticity to maximise results from training.
Body Composition – Athletes who apply the most force relative to body mass and in the right direction, are faster athletes. This is simple, the more fat mass you have, the more strength and endurance you need to carry that mass down the track, around the field or the court.
Fat is useless mass which slows you down. Imagine running with a 5 kg weight vest, now imagine that weight vest is under your skin ……Newtons Second Law of motion states that Acceleration is directly proportional to the force exerted and inversely proportional to the athletes mass. Your goal is to be lean, strong and fast, NOT skinny, weak and slow.
Improving any of the above pillars of speed will get you faster, but if you work on getting better at ALL of the pillars, then you will see some remarkable results.
Here are some of my ‘never fail’ tips in each area:
SPRINT TECHNIQUE TIPS
- To drive acceleration, think about pushing the ground down and back. Remember Newtons 3rd law of Motion “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This means the harder you push back, the more force you get returned to the body to push you forward.
- Keep great form by having great posture. Your head, shoulders and hips should be aligned.
- Punch your knees forward and up, then with deliberate intent drive your foot into the ground. This gives you both horizontal and vertical thrust resulting in a longer more explosive stride.
- As you lift your foot up and off the ground, pull the toes up to create a stiff ankle. Maintain this so that as you strike the ground you apply maximum force with a quick ground contact.
Access FREE technique drills for both straight line and multidirectional speed by clicking on the link below:
SPEED STRENGTH TIPS
- Combine your strength training with other forms of training like plyometrics and medicine ball training.
- In one super or complex set perform both strength work and explosive speed work to maximise your power output.
- An example of this is doing a set of weighted squats followed by a set of rapid horizontal or vertical jumps.
- The closer you can get your strength work resembling your speed work the better.
- Using weighted sleds to improve acceleration strength and weight vests in complex sets for max velocity sprinting are great examples.
Access FREE Medicine Ball drills to increase your speed strength by clicking on the link below:
RANGE OF MOTION TIPS
- Spend 20 minutes a day focussing on improving Range of Motion at your joints particularly Hips, Ankle and Shoulders.
- Think about improving tissue integrity and muscle length of all muscles.
- Pay special attention to muscles and joints that are impaired
Access FREE Mobility drills to increase your Range of Motion by clicking on the link below:
BODY COMPOSITION TIPS
- Eat real food that sustains you and fuels you.
- Include protein in every meal.
- Drink plenty of water and don’t drink sugar laden liquids.
- Don’t eat too much, stop eating before you are full.
- Avoid eating due to boredom, fill your day with fulfilling activities.
Ranell Hobson: MS (Sp. Coach); BA (Sp. Sci & Coach.); Grad Dip (Edu -VET); CSCS (NSCA); ASCA L2 and ATFCA L3
is the Head Coach at the Academy of Sport Speed Australia. Ranells specialty is Sport speed and Sprint mechanics, maximising athletic movement to decrease injury and improve overall player performance. Ranell works with youth to open age athletes and clubs across multiple sports and is an international presenter of Speed coaching workshops and Athlete Speed clinics.