10 tips coaching speed in athletes

“I feel the need, the need for Speed.”

What does it take to be fast?

I am not talking about the individual who was luckily born genetically coded to be able to run at light speed. I'm talking about the rest of us who need to work at it. Therefore, a summary of what you need to do looks like this:

“Mechanics produce efficiency

Efficiency produces speed,

And speed exposes flaws.

Find a flaw, fix it, and speed up. Of course, this has to be combined with the correct training program, but that will come later. These are some of the details about the mechanics you need to perfect to gain additional speed.

Elbow back, knee up

The simplest way to know if you have put your foot on the gas when you are sprinting is to make sure you drive your elbow back and bring your knee up. Low is slow, so if your hand swings low or you don’t pick up your foot, then the elbow and knee are going to be too low to be fast.

Tightness travels

When sprinting, if you unnecessarily tighten up one body part then that will travel to the next closest moving part. If you make a tight fist with your hands, that will, in turn, tighten the elbow and which can move into a tightening of the shoulder. The answer is with the hands, carry the egg but don’t break it. Keep the wrist fixed and the fingers loose.

Catch that jet

When a jet accelerates its engine to take off, the turbine inside the housing turns faster, it doesn’t get bigger. Therefore, as you become more in tune with sprinting and the mechanics, think "how fast can I get to the next stride and catch that jet?"

Power Triangle

When sprinting, there are two triangles formed--one by the arms and one by the legs. If the arms and legs bend to the proper angles, you get triangles formed by lines that would connect the hand to the elbow, to the shoulder, and back to the hand from the shoulder. Likewise, lines are drawn from the ankle to the knee, to the hip, and back to the foot to create a triangle. Both are essential for speed development.

Slow down to speed up

It may sound ridiculous, but as you train to get faster, you may have to slow down to speed up. The way that works is to run at a speed that you can consciously think about the various techniques, then speed up as you master different mechanics.

Speed exposes flaws

The faster you try to run, the more likely you are to have a technical breakdown. Have a qualified set of eyes watching to catch a flaw or video with the phone to critique yourself.

Low is Slow

As a sprint or someone training to run faster, always remember low is slow. Any part of your body not in the optimum position is holding you back. In sprinting, that can be the hands swinging below your belt, the foot cycling below the opposite knee, the shoulders, or the head hanging too low are examples. The rule is to run tall, spine straight, and land on the ball of your foot.

Best sprinting tip ever

When sprinting and your foot touches the ground, think about how you light a match. A match strikes a surface to create friction, then sparks, and creates fire. You don’t poke a match into anything to light it. When you are about to contact the ground, your foot should prepare to strike the ground so it can fly away and repeat. Don’t pound the ground, light a match.

Steps 1 & 2 are everything

I have a saying (speak slowly), “if steps 1 and 2 are good, then steps (speak fast) 3,4,5,6,7,8,9… will be fine. The importance of those can never be understated. If your first step is fast and explosive, then the nature of an entire play changes.


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