In sports like soccer, lacrosse, baseball and football, where you don’t sprint in long, straight lines, the ability to accelerate quickly is critical. If you aren’t fast right out of the box with your first-step quickness, you won’t be at full speed when it’s time to make your move.
1. Build Strength
Fundamental law of physics: Your body wants to stay at rest. It takes force to get it moving. The more strength you have in your lower body, the more force you can apply—and the faster you can move. In the gym, focus on Squats and hip extensions like Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts and Good Mornings. On the track, use resisted sprinting exercises, especially with 5- to 10-yard sprints.
2. Use Strength
You not only need to be strong, you need to learn how use your strength. Plyometrics, medicine ball throws and the Olympic lifts all teach you how to use strength quickly. Some of the best exercises here include the Standing Long Jump, Bounds, Clean- and Snatch-Grip Pulls, and the Medicine Ball Toss.
3. Perfect Technique
When accelerating, you run on the balls of your feet, lifting your knees high and driving your arms back powerfully as they swing. You can practice your form using short sprints and speed technique drills.
Develop first-step quickness and acceleration by performing these three exercises, resting 60 seconds between sets.
Box Drop With Sprint
- Assume athletic stance on top of plyo box
- Step forward off box and land softly on ground with knees slightly bent
- Immediately decelerate from landing and explode into sprint
Sets/Distance: 6×20 yards
Coaching Points: Keep body under control upon landing // Work for limited ground reaction time between landing and exploding into sprint // Adhere to proper sprint mechanics
- Assume push-up position with body in straight line
- Place one foot under hips and press ball of foot into ground
- With weight loaded on front leg, explode out into sprint for specified distance
Sets/Distance: 3×20 yards each leg
Coaching Points: Keep hips below shoulders when driving out // Explode into sprint as quickly as possible // Maintain forward lean throughout sprint
Non-Countermovement Box Jump
- Assume athletic quarter-squat position with arms at sides
- Without lowering further into squat or cocking arms back, drive through ground to explode up onto box
- Step down slowly and return to start position
- Repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: Don’t lower into squat or use backward arm movement to load jump // Land softly on box with knees bent
Train speed early in the week and early in your workout, when your muscles are fully recovered and free from fatigue, and when your body is capable of performing at its highest level. You need to train fast to get fast.
By John M. Cissik – contributor to STACK.com