Some people are born fast. They were gifted with the ability to get from point A to point B faster than most people. Fortunately for those not gifted with natural speed and even for those who are already fast, speed can be improved and should be treated as a skill, and not just a gift.
Speed training is something that can be practiced all year round in an effort to make yourself faster for any sport you’re playing. We’re going to give you 5 ways you can increase your speed by training fundamental components like stride length, stride frequency, power output, symmetry and stamina.
First, we’ll take a look at stride length or the distance travelled with each step. Increasing stride length allows the athlete to cover more ground in the direction they need to move with each step whether it be sideways, forwards or backwards. Maximizing stride length is done by increasing the power output, or how fast force is applied to the ground and optimizing the direction force is applied. More power will improve stride length.
Second is stride frequency, which can be improved when the quantity of “perfect foot contacts” an athlete makes in a given amount of time increases. Stride Frequency comes from the time spent between perfect foot contact with the ground and lift of the leg and foot into the step. Improving power and mechanics during contact with the ground and during the recovery phase will increase stride frequency. To execute good recovery mechanics, athletes need powerful lower abdominal muscles and muscles that surround the hips. Recovery mechanics help achieve better foot positioning and contact, increasing speed and resulting in less time spent on the ground.
The third area to improve is power output. Improving this through all phases of springing will increase speed. Incline running on a treadmill is a great way to improve power output because it keeps a consistent speed that does not adjust based on the athlete tiring or faulty mechanics. Targeting key muscle groups like hips, trunk, legs and upper body (with the help of a trainer) can be very influential in improving power. Ground-based agility drills, cone work, controlled weight jumps and other drills can be utilized to improve the fundamentals of acceleration and deceleration, and increase power and conditioning.
The fourth area to focus on is symmetry. Since an athlete is only as strong as their weakest leg, it’s vital to create a strong sense of symmetry to ensure each leg is equally stable and powerful. This requires a power assessment of each leg to determine if there’s a difference in certain percentages of output. Once the weaker leg is identified, targeted exercises can be utilized to build the strength and power of the weaker leg to match the stronger one.
The fifth and final area to focus on will be stamina or the athlete’s ability to sustain power throughout competition. Depending on the level of competition, sport or activity, there can be different levels of stamina required to achieve maximum performance. Proper conditioning can allow an athlete to maintain form and technique even while fatigued. A year-round training plan can be incorporated to include pre-season, in-season and post-season routines that help build speed and stamina while also reducing the risk of injury.
We hope these 5 fundamentals of speed training are helpful and that you can use them to increase performance. If you have any questions or want to implement these methods, we suggest visiting and discussing more with a personal trainer to make sure you’re following these methods properly.
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