Speed is the foundation of most athletic activity, making improving speed a goal for every athlete. Regardless of what sport you play, being faster than your opponent can be the difference between winning and losing the game.
Any athlete who must move swiftly and frequently change direction on the court or field will benefit immensely from regularly doing programs like speed training. Speed training should be a combination of exercises that boost velocity, coordination, cardiovascular endurance, and agility.
These 6 exercises for improving speed are excellent for any sport but particularly beneficial for those who play basketball, football, rugby, volleyball, and soccer.
The down position of the lunge resembles the airborne position in sprinting.
- Step forward with a very long stride with your feet hip-width apart.
- Upon landing, slowly lower your upper body straight down.
- Shift your weight backward.
- Extend your forward leg.
- Return to your standing position
- Repeat with the other leg for 10 repetitions each.
2. Sled Pull
When you have a weight attached to your midsection, you are amplifying the movements that help with sprinting.
- Place enough weight to create resistance onto a sled and attach a rope or strap around your waist or shoulders.
- Run with the sled as fast as you can.
- Drive your knees and pump your arms to drive out.
There are many variations to the squat that are excellent for improving speed. However, adding resistance such as a barbell is a great way to build strength as well. Here’s the Barbell Back Squat:
- Grab the bar with a grip that’s comfortable for your shoulders.
- Un-rack the weight
- Brace your abs and push your hips back to descend into the squat position.
- Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below parallel.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes, chest up and back flat as you push through your heels to stand up.
4. Depth Jumps
Depth jumps allow you to accelerate into a sprint, jump for a dunk or throw a fastball.
- Stand on a box
- Drop off the box, land briefly absorbing the shock
- Immediately jump as high as possible.
Remember that the landing period (or amortization phase) is typically less than 0.2 seconds.
5. Single Leg Hurdle Jumps
For multi-directional speed and quickness, single-leg hurdle jumps train quick single-leg movements and deceleration
- Stand on one leg
- Perform a quick counter squat
- Immediately extend your knee and hip to jump over the hurdle.
- Land as softly as possible on the same leg.
The Dead-lift, much like the squat, increases the amount of force you can put into the ground thus making you run faster.
- Grasp the barbell with your feet about hip-width apart with an overhand or over/under grip
- Keep your chest up and back straight as you pull the bar off the floor by fully extending your hips.
- Keep the bar close to your body throughout the lift.