Speed pertains to: how fast someone can run, how fast they can accelerate from a stationary position, their maximal speed of movement, and their speed maintenance (minimizing deceleration).
When performing speed training, there must be a solid foundation of functional strength to maximize gains, reduce the chance of injury, and achieve more explosive force production. To improve in all aspects pertaining to speed: proper form, knee drive, triple extension, and mobility are important factors that an athlete most focus on.
Proper technique is essential to speed training. An athlete can only run as fast as his/her technique will allow.
Here are 7 basic components of speed technique:
1. Elbows at 90 degrees (relaxed, not locked; hands drive behind hips and go to shoulders)
2. Keep your ankles and toes pointed upward on the knee drive (arching your toes up toward your shins)
3. Stay on balls of feet (drive feet under the center of gravity, pushing not pulling with legs)
4. Keep your torso upright, shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, and engage your core (don’t collapse).
6. Keep head up and straight-forward (look where you are going)
7. Incorporate resistance training into your regimen.
Second, a strong and powerful knee drive allows the athlete to produce a faster stride rate or leg turnover, essential for greater acceleration.
Third, triple extension, the counter movement of knee drive (when your hips, knees, and ankles extend) plays an important role. It produces the ground force for first step quickness and propels the athlete to cover more ground with each leg turnover, also known as stride frequency.
Finally, mobility is another significant part of improving speed. Through flexibility (dynamic stretching and static stretching), your joints will improve their range of motion (mobility). With improved mobility, an athlete can move in all planes of motion, and react quickly without jeopardizing reaction speed, and reduce the chance of injury.