Maximum sprint speed and acceleration are made up of several components. Though they can be broad and varied, we will briefly touch on what works best for attaining maximum speed. Brief, intense drills with plenty of recovery between each one is critical. Starts, acceleration, speed endurance and relaxation are key components of a proficient sprint and acceleration program.
Increasing acceleration, which is the rate of change in velocity, is done by increasing stride length and stride frequency. Stride frequency is the number of strides taken in a set amount of time or distance. When you improve stride frequency, there is a decrease in the time between each stride, while maintaining or even increasing stride length. The result is increased overall speed.
Stride length is the distance covered in one stride during running. To improve stride length, focus on improving an athlete's elastic strength. Elastic strength is the ability to quickly transition form eccentric (muscle lengthening) to concentric (muscle shortening) actions, especially during the plant phase of the sprint. Increasing stride length is the result of proper sprint technique, strength and power improvement.
To improve Speed-Acceleration remember:
Focus on good sprint form (head position, body lean, leg action and arm action)
Work to increase stride frequency and stride length
Perform drills that offer resistance (sled tows, partner pulls, hill sprints, etc.) and assistance (downhill sprints, partner tows, etc.)
Remember: make your program as sports specific as possible! A Running Backs sprint activity (short burst) may be similar, yet different from a point guard moving down court (short burst, yet high endurance, non-stop). Formulate your distances and direction accordingly.
About the Author
Daimond Dixon is a Nike SPARQ Certified Performance Trainer who has psecialized in training athletes over the past decade. Visit his performance site at www.ProPowerTraining.com
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