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4 Drills to Improve Your Sprint Speed

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

When thinking about sprint speed, there are really two overarching factors athletes and coaches need to be aware of. These include, acceleration and top-end speed. Acceleration is how quickly an athlete can increase the velocity of their sprint as compared to top-end speed which is the highest rate of speed that the athlete can reach. Both of these factors play a significant role in running a good 60 yard dash time, stealing bases or even running down a fly-ball. In this blog, I will go over 4 drills that can be used to improve acceleration and top-end speed.

Drill #1: Acceleration Sled March

The Acceleration Sled March is a great drill to focus on the efficiency of lower body mechanics and the “sweeping” motion of the legs that occurs during the acceleration portion of a sprint. Many athletes have too much backswing with their legs (almost kicking their butt) and this is just not efficient. This drill emphasizes the sweeping of the legs forward and back with the foot striking below the hips of the athlete.

To perform this drill:

• Use a light sled or sled with minimal weight

• Pop the bottom of your chest up

• Slightly hinge the hips

• Arms straight on the handles of the sled

• Have a slight lean that will move the weight of the sled without the marching movement

• Slightly flex the knee and “sweep” the floor with the foot striking right under the hip

• Perform for 3-4 sets of 10-15yd

Drill #2: A-Skip

The A-skip is a staple movement prep exercise at TNL. This drill is used to simulate upright sprinting mechanics (used in top end speed) and vertical force production.

To perform this drill:

• Initiate the movement by getting into the heel up under the thigh, toe up to the sky, and knee up to parallel to the ground.

• On the downward skip, aggressively drive the swing leg down and apply force into the ground

• At the initiation of contact, the stance or opposite leg will pop up and create a new swing leg.

• Make sure the arms move at the same rate as the legs, with the elbow going down the hip on the downswing and the thumb getting to the ear on the arm’s upswing

• Perform A-Skips for 3-4 sets of 10-20yd

Drill #3: Chain Resisted Sprinting

Chain Resisted Sprints are a great way to increase force output with acceleration. Adding resistance creates an additional load to the sprint, forcing the athlete to put more force into the ground to ultimately overcome that load. These also help put the stride under the hips of athletes and creates a more positive shin angle to help propel the body forward.

The base-stealing variation is a great option for baseball players looking to swipe more bags! Don't have access to chains? Then use a small sled. Don't have access to a small sled? Then perform hill sprints!

To Perform this Drill:

• Use a harness

• Attach about 10-25% of the athletes weight in chains to the harness

• Walk-out to ensure there is no slack from harness and chains

• Getting into a base-stealing position, other start position like a 2-Point, or 3-Point

• Sprint 10-20 yards and perform 3-6 times

• Rest 1 minute per every 10 yards sprinted

Drill #4: Flying Sprints

The flying sprint is a great drill when working on max velocity sprinting. The runway of the sprint allows for the body to get moving and puts focus on the mechanics of the sprint before the long distance sprint. These can be done at a variety of distances: 30-40 yards

To Perform this Drill:

• Be in area with a minimum of 30 yards of space

• Use the first 10-15yd as a runway; ~75% effort

• Max intent sprint to desired distance

• Rest approximately 2-4 minutes between sprints

• Perform 3-8 reps, depending on your how well conditioned you are for long duration sprinting

Overall, these are 4 great drills that can help improve your sprints in both acceleration and top end of speed. Happy Sprinting!

- Coach Shawn

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