To perform at the highest level, athletes need to have ‘the whole package’ – stability, strength, stamina and speed, but an athlete will never succeed in a multi-directional sport without speed. When I talk about speed in this case, I am talking primarily about first step quickness. I do not care about your 40 yard dash at all unless you are headed to the NFL combine. Success in multidirectional sport typically occurs in a 2-5 square meters. It is the athlete’s ability to get a step ahead of their opponent that leads to the breakaway or the pass completion.
Before giving you my 15-minute solution for developing quickness, I want you to understand that there is a huge difference between speed training and conditioning. When speed is your primary goal, then you must be executing each repetition with maximum velocity. Once fatigue enters the picture, you are no longer training speed, now you are working on conditioning. Many coaches get this wrong, thinking that they are training speed by having their athletes run suicide drills. Then they wonder why the players are no quicker in a game situation.
Acceleration Wall Drill
- Maintain a 45 degree angle to the wall.
- Keep your toes pulled up the entire time.
- Drive you knee up until your thigh is parallel to your body, there should not be any movement at the torso (i.e. do not round your back).
- Use your glutes as you drive that foot back down to the floor behind you – make sure to maintain your body lean -your foot should be landing behind your hips.
- If you feet are making lots of noise as they hit the floor, then you are likely standing too upright.
- Begin with a pause after each rep. Then once you have mastered the technique you can speed up the tempo.
- Do 4 sets of 8-10 reps with each leg resting 30 seconds between sets.
You need some space for this one – approximately 10m will be fine but make sure it is clear of debris.
- Stand with your feet side by side and slowly tip forward. When you approach the point where you feel like you would fall on your face if you did not take a step, you will use the technique described above to take 5-6 quick powerful acceleration steps.
- Do 5-8 starts, resting 30 seconds between each start.
Box Drill Ins & Outs
Tape or draw out a box shape on the basement floor or in the driveway. The box should measure approximately 18″x18″.
- Stand straddling the box shape – in other words, both feet are outside of the box on opposite sides.
- Now you will step into the box with your right foot, then into the box with your left foot (now both feet are inside the box). In a steady, quick pattern you will then step out of the box leading again with your right foot.
- Maintain you good athletic position with your knees slightly bent and your chest up – do not stare down at the box.
- You will repeat for the required amount of time alternating between leading with the right foot and leading with the left foot.
- Do four sets of 5 seconds with 30 seconds rest between each set
Box Drill Clock Hops
- For this drill I want you to think quick and light.
- Begin by standing with both feet inside the box you used for the previous drill. Now hop out of the box forward with both feet, then hop backward into the box with both feet, now hop out to the right, then back in, out to the back of the box, then back in and finally out to the left and then back in. You have completed one cycle clockwise.
- You should keep your upper body fairly steady – try not to flail your arms as you go through this drill.
- Complete the suggested number of repetitions going both clockwise and counter clockwise.
- Do three sets of 5 seconds in each direction with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
It can easily be argued that these movements are not sport specific. Correct. It may also be argued that practicing scales on the piano is not classical music. However both activities can help beginners develop basic motor skills and serve as a supplemental drill for advanced performers.