5 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Speed
In many performance sports, foot speed can separate you from the competition, or the lack of it, can leave you behind the pack. It can be the sole reason a coach believes that he can work with you, and it can be the one element that stops you from playing at the next level. Speed is often looked at as a “you got it, or you don’t” type of gift. This isn’t completely untrue. 99% of the people reading this will not be Olympic sprinters, but 100% of the people reading this have the ability to improve their speed. If you’ve never had any formal speed training, here are five things you may be missing that can shave ticks off of your time.
A six pack is way more valuable to the performance athlete than aesthetics. Not only have studies proved that strengthening your core improves your overall athletic performance (Sato & Mokha, 2009), but it has been shown to create significant gains in speed (Kwong-Chung Hung, 2019). Coach Dee of Light It Up Fitness has a great core strengthening routine for athletes on the Light It Up Fitness Youtube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7cNgCsnVHU
Sprinting is a function of maximum strength; this cannot be accomplished without resistance training. Lifting heavy is necessary to reach your top speed, but resistance training is necessary to truly become explosive. Check in with me on Instagram @Coachfredd1 for the various methods on how to incorporate resistance training into your speed program.
According to, New York Times journalist Kara Robinson, “Plyometrics is a type of exercise training that uses speed and force of different movements to build muscle power” (Robinson, 2020). Think of it as explosive training. The most basic yet essential example of this is jump roping. I guarantee you that if you are not already jump roping, adding It to your routine will improve your foot turnover and shave points off your times.
Focus on your form
Some are just born with elite speed. The rest of us will have to be surgical with our form in order to catch up. One typical mistake I see often is bad arm movement and placement. In a sprint, your arms should drive from your chin to the corner of your back pocket. They should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Swinging your arms with proper form aids your legs in providing a more smooth and balanced transfer of momentum to your body’s forward motion (Kennedy, 2017). The most typical mistake I see is lack of dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion is when a runner flexes their toes to the top of their shoes. By doing this, you are still able to drive max force into the ground without spending much time there. Practice dorsiflexion in all of your warmup movements (high-knees, butt-kicks, A-skips, etc.)
If you haven’t figured it out yet, a common theme of this blog will be “Take your butt to sleep!”. Train hard, recover harder in order to get up and train again. A 2017 study from the University of Wisconsin monitored athletes and their sleeping/rest patterns (Watson, 2017). It’s no surprise that the well-rested athletes were the top performers. I know we hear stories about the greats watching film until 3am and hitting the gym at six. Knock it off…..Take your butt to sleep!
Kwong-Chung Hung. (2019). Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy. Plos One.
Robinson, K. (2020). Plyometrics. Jump Start.
Sato, K., & Mokha, M. (2009). Does core strength training influence running kinetics, lower-extremity stability, and 5000-M performance in runners. National Center for Biotechnology information.
Watson, A. M. (2017). Sleep and Athletic Performance. American College of Sports Medicine, 413-419.