ASK COACH HARRY: HOW DO I SPRINT FASTER?
Speed is such a crucial component to your athletic development.
Aside from the skill of your sport, it is probably the biggest indicator of your performance and success for 90% of sports, especially those that are field and court based. Alongside from the obvious benefits that come along with being faster than your opponents, speed is crucial to develop so you can last longer in games (improve efficiency) and reduce your chance of injury.
With that being said, how many of you spend specific time each week developing your speed ability with an experienced coach? Based on what I have seen throughout my career, it’s not enough.
To keep it simple, there are two things I want to see youth athletes doing if they want to be faster:
1. GET COACHING to learn proper acceleration, max speed and change of direction techniques. Speed is a skill, in the same way that your sport is, and if you don’t take the time to learn the skill early in your development and spend specific time building this throughout the week, you are leaving results on the table and seriously limiting your potential. The correct technique is specific to each phase of sprinting you are in, what direction you are travelling, and the requirements of your sport. I will make this a topic for another blog post in the future where I can give it the attention it deserves.
2. GET STRONGER and don’t be afraid to get into the gym, build relative strength, increase eccentric strength, build tendon elasticity and surf the force velocity curve (again, another topic for a separate blog post). Strength is key in being able to apply more force into the ground, propelling you faster. This is particularly important during the first few steps when accelerating, which is crucial for sports requiring short sprints (think: tennis, football, basketball, etc). Key muscles to develop include your glutei and hamstrings, although it is important to build strength and stability throughout your legs and trunk through exercises such as squats, lunges, RDLs, sled pushes, etc.
I know how busy youth athletes are with endless before and after school co-curricular activities, various sport training sessions, competitions, family responsibilities, homework and social events. However, for those that are serious, or are looking to become serious about their performance, taking the time to incorporate athletic development training (including sprint training) goes a long way to improving your performance and reducing the chance of injury.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harry Weatherstone is the founder of the Youth Athletic Development Academy and the head Strength and Conditioning Coach at St. Andrew’s Anglican College. He is an ASCA accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach and has a Bachelors Degree in Sport and Exercise Science and Sport Management. Harry has been a sports coach for the last nine years, surrounding himself in high performance sport, athletic development and performance throughout New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and now Queensland. He has dedicated the last six years of his life to creating this movement in youth athletic development; investing countless hours into his own professional development to create the best programs possible for his students, athletes and clients.