Hey Hook, how do I run faster? When kids ask me that it’s like there is some magic drill that will make them run faster. Well there is no magic drill or exercises, just a few things you should understand.
Speed can be taught to any athlete who desires to excel in their particular sport. While there is a limitation to the amount of improvement that can be made to an athlete's speeds, all athletes can improve their current training in order to take advantage of abilities that are undeveloped due to improper training strategies.
In developing the speed of any athlete, your ultimate goal is to develop their overall athletic ability. The path we take in focusing on certain skills over others is going to be dependent on a number of factors, including, but not limited to sport, gender, training age, chronological age, etc.
Most of the time coaches and trainers will design a program that is overly complicated. Athletes, in general, have similar strengths and weaknesses. They just have never been taught the correct way to think and move when running, making significant gains to speed and technique is simply a matter of repetition and instruction.
An athlete must develop his/her overall athletic development in order to maximize speed. The following is a list and brief summery of the abilities needed in order to get a better understanding as to why these skills play a role in overall speed development.
In order to develop faster acceleration and top speeds, one must practice running at top speed. While this sounds straight forward and obvious, many athletes have never run true speed workouts. Speed work, for our purposes, is defined as 2 - 8 seconds of full intensity sprinting that is performed while an athlete in not in a state of fatigue. Generally speaking it takes approximately 3 minutes of rest to recover. You should not perform speed work in a state of fatigue.
You cannot get significantly faster without improving the ability to apply greater levels of force to the ground. There are many ways to improve the strength of athletes, such as weight training, plyometrics, medicine ball throws, etc, though the use of certain multi-joint strength training exercises is ideal.
Even talented young athletes often have a difficult time coordinating the movements required for getting the most out of their ability. The vast majority of coordinative ability is developed during pre-pubescence so developing this skill in younger athletes will have a significant impact on their later development. A primary problem with many athletes' running speed is their running mechanics.
If you have never been taught to run properly or think about running properly you must unlearn years of repeated mechanical errors and reprogram their neuromuscular systems to move in a way that is conducive to running faster.
Also called 'flexibility', this is often the most overlooked component of speed and athletic development. Most athletes and coaches overuse “static stretching” as a warm up and a complete lack of emphasis on post workout flexibility and recovery. Athletes and coaches must incorporate dynamic movements, progressing from slow to fast, into their practice and competition warm-up in order to recruit maximal muscle fibers and motor units, as well as decrease the likelihood of suffering injury.
"In shape" for the athletes of one sport may be wildly different from another. Simple proof of this is the differing levels of conditioning that athlete's have when they change sports between seasons. The endurance requirements for a soccer player and a sprinter are considerably different. One sport is almost entirely anaerobic; the other requires significant aerobic development. This won't affect pure speed in the way that the rest of the training program will, but it is of critical importance that an athletes and coach understand the energy system requirements of the particular sport that said athlete is training for. I have met many football coaches that still have their players running 2-3 mile as part of the workout, yet the aerobic requirements for the event don't dictate such training.
Van Hook Sports Performance Training