The Use of Power Speed Drills in Sport

Exercises to improve speed development are utilized in various sporting endeavors to improve performance. Smith (2014) states that power speed drills are typically utilized by track & field athletes to parallel the kinematic actions of the sprint action. These drills should be implemented based on the goals the individual is trying to achieve. This can include, but not be limited to the following (Lee, 2012; Smith 2014; Francis 2012):
1. Improved sprint mechanics
2. Warm-up
3. Aerobic Training (Utilizing extensive tempo approach)

Some of the more notable power speed drills are the A-B-C series.  This series consists of marching, skipping, and running drills for each variation (i.e. A march, A skip, A run, etc).  These drills are commonly used as warm-up drills, but can also be included into the speed portion of the training based on the intensity of the drills.  They should also be instituted early in the rehabilitation of hamstring injuries (A drills early on, with B drills only included later in the process if tolerated and performed appropriately by the athlete).  Various other drills can be included in the category of power speed as well, including:

Various single/double leg hops/Bounding drills

Backwards Runs

Lateral Shuffles/Carioca

Lateral skips

Modified Glute Kicks (Note:  I prefer Glute Kicks with added hip flexion rather than just performing rapid knee flexion)

Walking Hip External & Internal rotation with hip abduction an adduction (both with knee flexed and extended)

Lateral straight Leg Kicks

Front straight leg kicks

Stiff Leg Bounds

Ankling Drills

Athletes looking to improve their abilities as they relate to speed should consider utilizing these drills through their various modes of training.  These drills may also be used as a part of the rehabilitation process (a post on this topic will come at a later date).

Special Acknowledgement:

In the references and recommended readings I have cited James Smith’s work “Applied Sprint Training”.  I would HIGHLY suggest to anyone in the strength & conditioning or sports medicine fields (or if you are in both) to purchase this work.  This is by far one of the best resources on speed development, with information that applies to both track & field and non-track athletes.  This coupled with the multiple works by Charlie Francis can make for a great reference library on the topic of speed development

The manual can be purchased here:

References & Recommended Readings:

Francis, Charlie.  (2008).  The Structure of Training for Speed.

Lee, Jimson.  Sprint drills:  Gerard Mach revisited.  [Online] October 19, 2012.  [Cited Mar 16, 2014.]

Smith, James.  (2014).  Applied Sprint Training.

Development of the Alactic System Part III- Alactic Capacity

In a previous post, the development of alactic power was discussed.  In most athletic contests, athletes need to not only be explosive and powerful, but they also need to sustain that power over the course on an entire contest.   In order to develop this quality, appropriate programming to develop capacity of the alactic system will enable an athlete to compete with speed and power repeatedly for the duration of a contest; Verkhoshansky & Verkhoshansky (2011) defines power and capacity in this manner:

Capacity- the total quantity of producing energy

Power- the quantity of energy produced in the time unit

Improving the capacity (or conditioning) of the alactic system requires that short duration efforts greater than 95% intensity (<8 seconds) are repeated in multiple bouts.  An important component of this type of training is to keep an individual below their anaerobic threshold; the athlete should not begin to utilize the lactic system due to the intensity zone utilized being too slow for speed development (Francis, 2008).  Keeping the athlete below anaerobic threshold with efforts greater than 95% with appropriate rest intervals means the speed and power of the effort will be maintained for the duration of the session.

This type of conditioning can be performed with both jumps and sprints.  The key is to have a high intensity effort as described previously, with a rest interval of 10-60 seconds (Morris & Williams, 2013; Verkhoshansky & Verkhoshansky, 2011).  Many times coaches implement more lactic-based conditioning in an effort to help with maintaining an athlete’s speed for a contest.  The inherent problem with this is that the speed of the effort in this type of training begins to drop as efforts are repeated; an athlete actually ends up training to maintain a slower speed.  Sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, some combat disciplines, and lacrosse are sports that primarily utilize both the aerobic and alactic systems to fuel their efforts, and should not be incorporating large volumes of lactic-based conditioning into their off-season or in-season protocols.  In a future post some examples of alactic capacity training will be outlined.

References & Recommended Readings

Verkhoshansky, Y., Verkhoshansky, N.  2011.  Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches.  Verkhoshansky SSTM.  Rome, Italy.

Francis, C.  2008.  The Structure of Training for Speed.

Morris, B, Williams, R.  2013.  American Football Physical Preparation:  How to Optimally Prepare for Your Best Season Ever.  Ebook available at