How much faster can an athlete get under the right training?
The answer to that question is one we try to provide answers for
each and every week.
One of the fastest ways to get there is through the use of
effective speed drills.
Why are speed drills so effective?
Because, when done correctly, they train the athlete to move in an
efficient and powerful way that takes advantage of the single most
important factor in speed development.
Over the past two weeks I’ve been talking about the importance of
using speed drills as one of the primary methods of developing faster
But not all speed drills are created equal.
In fact, there are a few drills that I don’t think you should use at all.
These drills actually reinforce the bad habits that you’re trying to
What’s worse is that they are drills that are used regularly in most
Remember, the goal with any technical training is to retrain the
nervous system to fire the muscles in a way that promotes the most
efficient and powerful running style possible.
So you can’t let athletes do drills that will erase all their efforts.
When it comes to speed development, here are my top 3 drills you
should immediately eliminate from your program:
1. High Knees
We’re trying to get athletes to recover the heel underneath the hips,
step over the support knee and then drive the foot down into the ground
so that all the motion stays underneath the Center of Mass (CoM).
The key point is keeping the ankle beneath the hips/CoM. Many
athletes let that foot paw out or cycle out past the CoM and this results
in a breaking action where the athlete is actually slowing down with
Doing high knees supports the idea of bringing the foot out past the
CoM instead of recovering, stepping over and driving down.
Eliminate high knees in favor of more effective drills proven to
2. Butt Kicks
This is another classic speed drill.
However it teaches athletes that running involves knee flexion when,
although it may look like the hamstring is involved through bending
at the knee, it actually doesn’t operate like that when running.
The recovery of the active leg is not from the ‘butt kick’ action.
When inexperienced athletes do butt kicks, it reinforces backside
mechanics (where range of motion appears to take place primarily
‘behind’ the body) which is a tell tale sign that athletes are not
producing any power while sprinting.
Lack of power = lack of speed.
Using butt kicks in your program gives athletes mixed signals as
far as teaching them the right way to move.
You have to get rid of butt kicks in favor of drills that promote
efficiency and power.
3. ‘B’ Skip
There are a few different names to this drill, but the problem
remains the same.
This drill starts out like an ‘A’ Skip (a great drill). But as soon as
the active ankle clears the support knee, it all goes downhill.
In the ‘B’ skip, the active ankle now drives out past the CoM as
though the athlete were kicking in a door that was in front of them.
From there they cycle/paw through with the foot landing, more or
less, underneath the hips.
This is simply unacceptable from a technical standpoint.
One of the biggest problems athletes have is learning to drive the
foot down into the ground as soon as it clears the knee.
This leads to a number of extremely limiting problems. Regardless,
this drill should be put on the shelf with only one exception…
I do use this drill with some of my athletes.
But only these athletes:
Track and Field hurdlers.
The ‘B’ skip is an ideal drill for teaching lead leg mechanics with
But hurdling and sprinting are not the same.
So, unless you’re working with hurdlers, get rid of the ‘B’ skip and
replace it with proven drills that are guaranteed to improve
running form, mechanics and speed…
Learn the most effective speed training drills proven
to develop faster speeds: