Getting faster should be on every good athlete’s mind. If you’re not working to actively become faster then you may find yourself falling behind the competition, especially when it comes to making the team. Coaches measure speed and strength at all levels, so getting started early is beneficial – even for the youngest athletes. Here are some quick tips to help knock out some sprinting speed goals.
First, focus on diet
If you’re larger in stature, excess weight can hinder the body’s ability to move. Moving more mass will be harder to start, get to full speed and stop.
An appropriate diet will also help build lean muscle – start by eating more protein (eggs, chicken breast, lean beef, fish) and more complex carbs (beans, rice, fruits, vegetables), good fats (avocados, omega-3 from fish, proportioned nuts), but stay away from processed food. When grocery shopping, a good tip is to stay away from the middle of most supermarkets, work around the edges. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and good fats will most likely be around the edge of your favourite grocery store and maintained in cold climates. If it’s in a box and lasts for months in your cabinet, it’s probably not worth eating.
Start stretching, work on mobility and flexibility
Becoming more flexible and more mobile will help with posture. Focusing on posture will be a huge contributing factor to speed gains. Start by working on overall strength. As a younger athlete, focus on the posterior chain and core. Getting the legs, glutes, back muscles, and core stronger will help with posture. Doing lunges, reverse lunges, squats, splits squats, Bulgarian squats, deadlifts, hip flexor exercises, med ball throws, plank variations will all greatly improve sprint speed. Simply sprinting more is also going to improve speed.
Work on acceleration, focusing on long powerful strides in short bursts of 5-20 yards
Most sports work in acceleration, not top-end speeds. The key for acceleration is body angle – keeping the shin angle low and moving forward, not up and down, when at top-end speed. Work on your acceleration through drills such as Get-Ups (prone, supine, lateral, roll-overs), Wall Runs – perfect those body angles, Falling Starts, Partner Drops, Mountain Climber Starts, Single-Leg Starts, and Bounding are all great for achieving better acceleration.
Strengthening the ankles
Another way to increase sprinting speed is working on ankle stiffness. Without the necessary muscle-tendon force production and transmission from the legs and feet to the ground, there is no speed. Plyometrics or bouncing exercises will help with strengthening the ankles.
Lastly, get enough rest
Too many athletes today have an “on button” but don’t know when it’s time to turn it off. Recovery is maybe the most crucial key in muscle recovery and growth to help increase sprinting speed.