If you are a coach or athlete, then you appreciate the need for speed training in your program. Speed determines how fast you intercept the opposition or how you finish on the track. Every coach dreams of fast athletes and in fact, some of the best players in NFL and NBA are more renowned for their speed and not skills. If you can control the ball at high speed, then scoring a goal is easier even if you don’t have lots of dribbling skills for instance.
While the first steps when you start running are important, you need to appreciate the role of linear speed, which is made up of the rest of the steps. It is no wonder most sprinters get off the blocks fast, but within the fourth step they are already behind.
For the best speeds, you need a combination of good mechanics and strong legs. Good mechanics is the most important factor if you want to maintain your strong first steps. The most important elements to focus on include:
- Knee Drive: Lifting helps improve knee drive, which is a key component in sprinting. You require very well prepared hamstrings and hip flexion.
- Posture: By now, you have seen the difference between Usain Bolt and other sprinters who run with chest down. A good sprint involves running tall with a slight forward lean. If you bend your hips then you are done which is why you need to run tall.
- Arm and Hand movement: This is an Achilles heel for most athletes. You need to maintain a 90 degree bend at the elbows. Your hands and wrists should be in a neutral position. Avoid any sideway motion and instead all focus should be on forward movement. Swinging arms sideways decreases your forward movement.
- Heel recovery: This is a crucial part in gaining linear speed and the maxim is; if the heel is to come up, then the knee must also come up. Heel recovery helps bring knee to the proper position while keeping your foot contact light.
During training, linear speed must be a major focus. Some of the common drills to get it right include wall drills, march and skip drills and sled drills. A well designed linear speed training program helps maintain your speed from the first steps to the last, which is the dream of every coach and athlete. Have you noticed anything in this article that you can use in your linear speed training regimen? Drop us a comment below if there is anything you would like to add!