Almost every outdoor sport that you play will require a high level of speed and acceleration, and speed drills are mandatory in this regard. Be it a game of soccer, basketball, hockey or any other physical game, the advantages of a tremendous burst of acceleration and the ability to maintain high levels of speed are essential.
All the sports that are played across the world today are witnessing a major change in the physicality of the players, all attributed to the introduction to new forms of drills. Gone are the days of having an overweight but highly skillful player in the team. Today, all the players are highly trained athletes. The reason for this transformation can be traced to the exorbitant amounts of money that they earn, and the level of competitiveness around them. Speed drills have become an integral part of their training regimes today, and the results of this are plain to see.
The aim of these sprinting drills is not to make the players run large distances at high speeds, it is more about developing a strong explosive start. It is the first few seconds of the sprint that makes all the difference, and this explosiveness is achieved by building strong leg muscles, upper body strength, and amazing lung power. Speed drills in soccer, for instance, are useful because a race between two players barely lasts a few seconds, but whoever has a better start will ultimately win possession.
General Tips for Speed Drills
The idea here is to accelerate as fast as possible in the first 2-3 seconds, and this should be enough to gain the upper hand. While practicing these drills, players must sprint for short distances and get a few minutes rest between each set. That explosive quality can only be developed over a period of time, and it does not matter if the particular individual cannot maintain that speed over a distance of more than 50 meters.
- Always ensure that the players are adequately warmed up before they begin their drills. The strain on the muscles is fairly large, and an improper warmup can lead to serious injuries.
- These should be performed at the beginning and at the end of a training regime.
- Complement the drills for football and other sports with a planned weight training program, as building strength in certain muscles will enable a player to sprint faster.
- A speed drill session should be repeated 5 to 10 times (each sprint being one repetition), and the sprint to rest ratio should be 1:5. This means that if a player sprints for 10 seconds, he should rest for 50 seconds after that.
- Drills should be adjusted to suit the needs of a particular sport. Speed drills for track events will be very different from those for basketball.
Basic Speed Drills
The most elemental drill is to keep 2 cones a few meters apart, and sprint between them with some amount of rest in between. The movements during the sprint can be determined by the nature of the sport. An alternative is to jog for a few meters, and then suddenly break into a full-fledged sprint.
Some trainers use an inclined slope to practice running drills. Running uphill will increase the power and acceleration in the legs, and running downhill will improve the coordination and leg speed of the players. Another popular drill is to set a leader for a small group of players, and have this leader randomly walk, jog or sprint. The other players in the group have to follow the leader and mirror every single action.
Speed drills are also used to improve the agility of an individual. In this context, agility refers to the ability of a player to suddenly stop while sprinting, change direction, and then pick up speed again. Agility drills are very important for soccer and basketball players.
There are a variety of drills that can be implemented to improve a player's stamina, speed, agility, and explosiveness. The trainer must make the players feel comfortable and then pull them out of their comfort zone on a regular basis. The importance of effective speed drills cannot be stressed enough, and athletes of all outdoor sports should realize this.