EASY Speed drill for Athletes

EASY Speed Drill for Athletes

Everyone needs to know a few key concepts to learn how to be fast and accelerate to show off all of that speed. This concept is relatable to running backs, linemen, field hockey, lacrosse, and even baseball players coming out of the box. 

Steep Shin Angle

Learning how to push with a steep shin angle is a big factor. Learning how to apply a lot of force with a steep shin angle helps project the body forward at a high rate.


If we take shortstops for example who have to quickly track down a ground ball hit away from them, an elite shortstop will change their shin angle to allow them to lead with their chest. What ends up happening during acceleration is that the chest comes forward and the force is being applied behind the center of mass. This is the same thing for tennis players. When tennis players see something happening with the direction of the ball in the volley, they will plant, change their shin angle to make it steeper, and put their torso forward to cover the ground rapidly. 

The change of the shin angle changes the torso as well and acceleration comes into play because athletes are planting behind their bodies. This is different from maximal mechanics when running. During maximal mechanics, athletes plant under their center of mass or slightly in front, about 20 centimeters, to run as fast as possible. The shin angle will not be as steep when planting behind the body. So think plant behind with the torso leaning forward with acceleration and, at top end speed, with maximal mechanics think about being more upright with a plant slightly in front of the center of mass.  

A simple drill that can be done involves standing on a bumper plate, to begin with, with a 20” box in front. From the stance on the bumper plate, step backward with a leg while the other leg remains on the plate. 

Then from the plant, drive the other leg onto the 20” box in front of the body. Just drive forward. It is an acceleration drill that serves as a great warm-up to feel like driving forward and getting the torso to lean forward.

Deceleration

Think about a drop lunge from off a plate. We want the leg dropping off the plate to plant out in front of our center of mass. The plant will even be in front of the knee a bit. From the grounding, we then drive and come back up.


Mastering deceleration will also improve acceleration. Some great things about mastering declaration are that on the field of play we can cut quicker, be twitchier, and be more explosive out of our cuts.


Let’s dive into some speed drills.

10 Meter Sprint - 10 Meter Decelerate 

I think this drill came from back in the day when meatheads ruled the roost. The drill is pretty straightforward. As quickly as possible, run 10 meters and then decelerate within the next 10 meters. Then rest for 20 seconds before repeating. A clock should be running for 120 seconds or 2 minutes. In the 2-minute window, we do as many sprints and decelerations with the necessary rest as we can. 


Technique-wise, we want to feel the forward lean. We also want to get to the point where we can count our steps so that we know how many steps we take to accelerate and how many steps we take to decelerate. As the body fatigues, we can then be aware of where we are taking extra steps. The goal is to hold the technique, positive shin angle, and torso in a positive position so that as fatigue sets in the sprinting technique doesn’t diminish.


Of course, it goes into the declaration as well. How quickly can you decelerate? How few steps can you decelerate? Can you feel your quads helping to slow things down? Can you feel the front foot getting out of the front of that center of mass? 


Ideally, this drill is completed 3 to 5 times with the goal of building up to 10 sets. The drill will not only help you get faster, but it will also help you get in shape.

15 To 20 Meter Hill Crest Sprint

This drill is a bit longer, slightly more advanced, and requires that you find the crest of a hill that allows you to sprint 15 to 20 meters. Set a 3 to 4-minute timer. Sprint 15 to 20 meters over the crest and then slow down for 15 to 20 meters. Over the 3 to 4-minute time frame, try to do this as quickly as possible. 


Being on the hill will force the knee angle and shin angle to change and will assist greatly with acceleration. When this drill is done and progress is made in periodization, each week another set of 3 to 4 minutes can be added. The goal is to get 10 sprints in the 3 to 4-minute time frame. 


Use the steeper side of the hill to hammer acceleration. Now running back, the other side will target more traditional speed but while returning to the steeper side the body is forced to decelerate with the front foot out in front. The front foot out in front puts the body behind to decelerate, which is very similar to planting and getting out of a cut.   

Recap

In this blog, we touched on a few keys behind sprinting mechanics. We also gave two drills that are useful to help with speed and running faster. Both drills help with acceleration and deceleration. Remember, the steep side of the hill helps with both acceleration and deceleration. The best thing of all? Neither drill requires any equipment and is accessible to all able-body people to help with becoming faster. 

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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