Speed is one of the most sought after traits of all sports. The fastest athletes have a unique ability to relax. Relaxation and removal of tension in unwanted areas is the key to running faster. It takes an enormous amount of practice and repetition to learn this quality. Strength training requires an enormous amount of tension through the entire body with the majority of the lifts. For this reason, training a strong athlete to relax while sprinting is much more difficult than training a fast athlete to become stronger. Sprinting is also a skill that is very hard to coach. Giving someone a lot of cues on what they should be doing with their arms and legs while sprinting is actually harmful for speed development and can slow the athlete down. When considering training youth athletes, coaching cues should be at a minimal anyways. Youth athletes are in a stage of exploration/trial and error, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them with information they cannot properly digest yet. Sprinting is a simple exercise you can perform with youth athletes that requires minimal to no cues except “Go”, “Move”, or “Fast”. You can get creative with variations such as momentum starts, kneeling starts, or lying face down starts. All of these give the athletes different stimuluses of various joint angles and will help teach them (without coaching) which angles are most effective for creating speed. Finally, sprinting is an easy way to create an environment of competition. What’s the easiest and quickest way to get the competitive juices flowing? Simply telling a kid “lets race!”
How to run faster - part 1: Momentum Start.
The momentum start utilizes a little bit of momentum at the starting point of your sprint so the weaker athletes can obtain proper shin angles to start getting a feel for efficient sprinting mechanics while they are working on developing strength.
How to run faster - part 2: Kneeling Start.
The kneeling start is a good progression to the momentum start once the athlete has developed a sound foundation of strength. A kneeling position prior to the start of the sprint requires a lot more force application to get up off the ground. The kneeling position will also force the athlete to rock forward and obtain a good forward shin angle that is needed for acceleration.
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