Improving sprint speed is important for any athlete, so if you are asking, “How do I increase my speed,” you’ve come to the right article. Most people wrongly believe that the more they practice and build their thigh muscles, the faster they’ll be able to run. The truth is far from it, in this post I’ll cover the top 10 secrets to improve your speed immediately. This is nothing like a “Feed the Cats” speed increase training program!
There is a saying, “knowledge is power.” And I’m all for it. We need the right knowledge to get the explosive power necessary to make any type of improvement in our lives. Similarly, the secrets that I’m about to share will help you improve your sprinting techniques to give you the quick boost you need to win.
You don’t just need to learn this information but you’ll need to implement it as well. These are practical secrets that have worked well for me over the years to enhance speed. Let’s take a look at them below and maybe you can one day make former Canadian speed coach Charlie Francis or Director of track and field at Baylor University, Clyde Hart, proud!
1. Knee Up Extend And Pull
When speed training, you should be focusing on getting this right. You should bring your knee up to the height of your hips and then extend your lead leg out and pull it back, repeating with your trail leg. Over the years, I’ve worked with many athletes (including female athletes) who struggle with getting their knees up.
You can tell the difference between someone who is going to go fast and someone who doesn’t by noticing their front-side mechanics. Most people are focusing too much on their back-side mechanics and completely miss out on optimizing the crucial front-side mechanics.
For an explosive first step, check out this post.
2. Foot Contact Efficiency
The fastest athletes are able to generate the most amount of force into the ground when they are sprinting. This helps them create a rebound effect to boost their sprint. This will avoid creating ankle joint stiffness.
When your foot is hitting the ground, 90% of force generated is going to be in that first 1/3rd of the whole time your foot is in contact with the ground. So when you are focusing on this part you should be trying your best to maximize your force with this technique.
Check Out Our Blog On How To Improve Foot Contact Time
3. Foot Push Off (Big Toe ROM)
When you push your foot off, make sure you don’t allow it to go back behind you too much. The emphasis should not be on pushing back, rather it should be on having a great Big Toe Range Of Motion. This means, your focus should be on getting your foot up to be able to create a quick leg cycle.
As soon as your foot comes up off the ground, you should immediately drive it back up underneath your hip. This allows you to get your foot out in front and get back into the position where you first started, the knee up, extend, and pull. This additionally stretches the achilles tendon, a stretch shortening cycle.
If you spend too much time and push off the foot too far back behind you, it’ll take more time for you to get back into the cycle ultimately slowing you down in the sprint, causing ankle stiffness for sprinting.
4. Core Strength For Better Turnover
In my opinion, core strength has a direct correlation to the turnover rate. When you push off your foot vertically, you’ll be able to drive your knee forward sooner. The specific muscles helping you with the process are the hip flexor and lower core.
Your deep transverse abdominis and hip flexors help you propel forward with a lot of strength. Moreover, it’ll also help you access your muscle very effectively. So when you are trying to generate that thrust forward, your core muscle plays a key role in driving your knee through quickly.
Overall, your core helps you create a fast turnover. The faster the turnover, the faster you will be able to run.
5. Elbow Position And Hand Placement (6-12 inches)
The secret is quite simple here, you should have your elbows as close to your body as possible. As for the hand placement, it should go about 6-12 inches behind your hip. This can only be possible if these parts work in tandem.
The most common mistake I observe with people that are running, they move their torso too much. It’s simply because they did not have great speed coaching, try this great article on strength training. Arm problems are more common for people who are just starting off.
6. Hamstring Strength
The reason that hamstring strength is a secret is that I see a lot of people work on their squat or jumping but not many focus on their hamstring strength. This is essential because our hamstring is connected to our lower muscles (calf muscles and muscles underneath our foot – i.e the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles).
We have three hamstring muscles:
- Bicep Femoris
Two of these muscles run on the inside part of the leg and one on the outside. All of these muscles help maximize your hip extension and knee flexion. Moreover, these also aid in controlling the movements related to rotation within the hips.
If there’s one thing you want to improve through the workout, it should be your hamstring muscles.
Check Out Our Video On The 6 Best Hamstring Exercises
7. Upper Body Strengthening
I believe this is an underrated part of being able to run fast. To do this, you should include push-ups and pull-ups as part of your exercise. This helps you control your body weight really well. The stronger you are in your upper body (biceps, triceps, pecs, and lats), the better you will be able to generate more reaction within your core.
When pushing forward, we are pulling with a lot of arm strength. This motion needs a response from your core, when the core responds, that creates a reaction within the hips and the pelvis. This leads to a reaction in the hamstrings trickling down with the motion. Quarterbacks know all too well that training is required to increase throwing power.
The more speed you generate with your lower body, the more control you will need from your upper body to stabilize the motion. Conversely, if you have a strong upper body, it also helps you generate force in the lower body to help you optimize your speed play.
This aspect is also true for track athletes or sprinting athletes. Most of the athletes in this category don’t emphasize much on doing much upper body whereas I highly recommend you do it.
8. The Drive Phase
The drive phase includes approximately the first 5-15 steps of your sprint. This is the phase you must go through to reach your top speed. Most people don’t pay much attention to improving their drive phase and try to reach their top-speed immediately only to burn out after some time.
If you are interested in reading about improving your drive phase, check out my detailed article: Keys To The Drive Phase In Sprinting
The drive phase holds the key to your speed as it defines how well your body gets into the position to be able to maximize its potential. Speed work is the basis for training your body and its specific traits.
9. Force Into The Ground (Vertical And Horizontal)
The force into the ground doesn’t just mean vertical or horizontal force alone. It includes both the forces combined, so it’s a vertical and horizontal force. You need to be able to maximize both of them.
Most people try to create only vertical force. A study also suggested that horizontal jumping exercises worked better than squats and practicing vertical jumps. Your posture needs to be upright when creating the force into the ground.
Typically, people don’t struggle much with their vertical force. They have a hard time focusing on the horizontal force. Make sure you are not leaning when you run as this will affect the generation process of the horizontal force. If you want to know the proper running position, read this article.
10. Body Awareness
As they say, you want to save the best for the last, that’s what I’ve done with these secrets. This one could easily top the list however, I wanted to reward you for staying with me throughout the post.
Body awareness means understanding how to breathe and how to push ourselves. Every time you watch a 100m race, you see athletes fatigued at the end of the race, that’s because they’ve pushed their bodies to their maximum limits during the race only through body awareness.
These athletes are able to create a sort of explosion within their bodies during the race to finish it in under 10 seconds. It’s all based on how well you are able to control your body. You should know how to train your body for maximum output.
All the other secrets I’ve shared in the list are applicable to different people differently. If you have body awareness, you would know which one of these you require the most and work your way through that part to improve running speed. If you believe your spine position could use improvement when improving speed, “The Correct Spine Position During Start To Improve Speed” could be a good read.
Check Out Our Blog On The Keys To An Explosive Start
Well, these were the top 10 secrets to improve speed immediately. As mentioned above, you should prioritize the secrets from the list as per your needs. Start from one of them and work your way towards the others. In the future you can enhance your training by looking into curved running drills or up your training by adding 110 hurdle workouts.
Over the years, I’ve helped several athletes improve their speed through these techniques, including hurdle drills or hurdle training in general. From the first hurdle to the last, I will help you improve your athletic self and better yourself. If you are interested in knowing more about sprinting and improving your top speed, feel free to visit our website. Also, check out the programs we offer, you can register and be a part of our program to help you improve your overall performance. If you’re training to become a better quarterback, check out this article.
Our Simple Speed Coaching Process To Help You Get Faster
STEP 1. SEND IN VIDEO OF YOUR SPRINT VIDEO
This is easy we send you a video to explain what angles to send and how to upload onto our server quickly and easily. You will be able to upload right from your computer or smart device.
STEP 2. RECEIVE SPEED COACHING BREAKDOWN OR ZOOM CALL
Within 24 hours you will get a detailed email back that goes over all the critical details of your running form. This will include drills and exercises to help you improve. If you have any questions we can always schedule a call to make sure everything is clear and concise.
STEP 3. FOLLOW THE SPEED PROGRAM AND MAKE THE CHANGE
Now we will make everything as easy as possible for you to be able to make tremendous improvement in your mechanics. Our complete speed training programs have tons of drills and exercise to help you improve. However, you must DO THE WORK. YOU WILL GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s the average time for 50 yard dash?
The average time for a 50 yard dash is around 6.5 seconds for men and 7.6 seconds for women. However, this can vary wildly based on an individual’s unique physical attributes and training level.
Can speed be taught?
Yes, speed can definitely be taught. With proper training and knowledge of techniques for improving sprinting speed, you can significantly improve your performance in a relatively short amount of time.
What is the fastest human sprint speed?
The world record for the fastest human sprint speed is currently held by Usain Bolt, who ran a 100 meter dash in 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
How fast is the average person?
The average person’s sprint speed is not nearly as impressive as Bolt’s world record time. According to Ryan Banta, track and field coach who is known around the world, the average person can run a 100 meter dash in between 12-14 seconds with proper training techniques.
How many women hold world records for sprinting?
Currently, there are three world records for women’s sprinting held by Florence Griffith-Joyner for the 100m dash (10.49 seconds), Marita Koch for the 200m dash (21.71 seconds) and Jarmila Kratochvilova for the 400m dash (47.60 seconds). These world records have been in place since 1988, 1988, and 1983 respectively.
What indoor track surfaces are best for sprinting?
The indoor track surface is important as it affects the amount of force returned to your body when running. Generally, indoor tracks that have a rubberized surface or even one made from synthetic turf will be most ideal. The rubberized surface helps absorb more of the force when running and can help reduce fatigue. Indoor tracks that are made with an asphalt surface or indoor/outdoor concrete will not be as ideal for sprinting as these surfaces tend to be harder and provide less cushioning.