All athletes can get faster, but if your child isn’t naturally fast, improving their technique will make all the difference to their speed and athletic performance.
Acceleration is the first 10-15 yards of a sprint, which is essentially most of what is done on a sports field. Does your athlete look like this when they accelerate? If not, that’s okay. Most young athletes don’t look like this naturally.
Correcting their technique will lead to:
1. Improved speed
2. Increased playing time
3. A confidence boost that can help them in any part of life.
As you see here, we want to accomplish a few things when improving an athlete’s sprint technique.
• 45° body angle. This includes the shins. Head neutral and eyes forward and out.
• Proper arm action. Arms are at 90°, hands are open and relaxed, and the majority of the movement comes from the shoulder.
• Hips and quads forward. The knees should not come up when you sprint, but rather think of the quads driving straight forward.
• Back leg extension. A lot of athletes don’t fully extend during a sprint, and lose maximum use of their glutes and hamstrings, the muscles most responsible for speed.
• Ankle dorsiflexion. Keeping the ankles flexed creates a loaded-spring-type of action when sprinting.
Drills to do at home to help improve acceleration
The arm action drill is designed to help you produce more power during a sprint.
There are 4 main points to arm action:
1. Arms are at 90°.
2. Arms move from the front of your chin to the back of your pocket.
3. Posture is tall and fingers are spread
4. Elbows stay closer to the body and your hands do not cross the mid line of the body.
Wall drive drills are a basic, but very important set of drills designed to improve your acceleration mechanics. There are 4 main rules to acceleration:
1. Body at 45°
2. Arm at 90°
3. Hips and quads forward
4. Low heel recovery
The third point is really important for improving speed. Often, when you give the popular cue of “knees forward,” an athlete tends to bring their knee up instead. Driving the quad toward the wall helps maintain proper body and shin angles.
Additional things to look out for during these drills:
1. Shin angle and body angle match at 45°
2. The back leg is fully extended. Isometric wall drives are designed to focus on this.
3. Ankles dorsiflexed (Toes toward your nose)
These are some of the actual sprints your athlete will practice at Parisi. Use the technical points above and apply them to your sprints.