The following is a Guest Post Todd Williams, CSCS of Velocity Sports Performance Carlsbad

How important is speed? Far more important than most people realize!   Team speed becomes an issue every time an opposing player takes off down the sideline with the ball.  Speed changes things.  A fast player changes a game.  A fast team changes a season.  Speed moves you up the depth chart.  It makes the phone ring from colleges and adds zeroes to many professional athletes’ contracts.  Speed is a deal maker and a game changer.  The good news is that speed can be taught if you find the right coach, the right training program and enough space to practice.

How Do You Teach Speed?

There are two main factors to consider when teaching speed: physics and physiology.  Most high school athletes don’t realize that the physics lessons they learn in the classroom apply on the field or court.  An understanding of physics helps a speed coach teach proper body mechanics.  Your body, like a car, will move faster and more efficiently when it is properly aligned or positioned.  A sprint has different phases: the start phase, the acceleration phase and the top speed phase.  Your body will move through different positions during different phases of the sprint.  A well educated speed coach can recognize and correct poor alignment or mechanics which will in turn improve the speed and efficiency with which an athlete runs.

Physiology also comes into play in making an athlete faster.  Neuromuscular coordination refers to the communication between mind and body.  An athlete needs to recruit certain muscles to perform certain functions at high rates of speed.  When an athlete is placed in a situation calling for greater speed, the body will attempt to adapt and move more quickly.  Simply put, one way we can make an athlete faster is by forcing them to move faster.  This technique is generally referred to as over speed training.  A well educated speed coach also knows how to safely and appropriately incorporate over speed training once an athlete is utilizing sound running mechanics.

Speed Drills: Improving Mechanics

In any speed instruction program, sound mechanics are the first order of business.  Practice alone does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  An athlete who wishes to get faster needs to practice under the watchful eye of an expert.  Below are just two examples of drills we use at Velocity to improve speed mechanics.

Wall Drills.

Wall Drills are designed to teach proper body alignment as well as leg action during the acceleration phase of running. It teaches the athlete to maintain a 45-60 degree forward lean while taking those first few steps after take off. In addition to that wall drills teach the “sweeping” forward to backward leg action of the acceleration stride cycle.

Heel Recovery.

Butt kickers are a top speed running drill that focuses on the backside of our stride cycle.  They help to ensure that the athlete’s foot follows the proper path during this phase of the cycle. They teach athletes to pull their heels under their center of mass as opposed to behind their center of mass. Correct heel recovery mechanics will lead to a faster turnover thus speeding up the stride cycle and overall speed of the athlete.

Speed Drills: Over Speed

After an athlete has mastered proper running mechanics, over speed training can be used to increase an athlete’s speed.  Without solid mechanics, over speed will simply reinforce bad habits or cause injury.   Over speed drills are intended to stress the body into a higher rate of seed

Fast Leg.

When an athlete can properly demonstrate a sound stride cycle, we begin drills such as the fast leg series. These drills help athletes increase the speed of their stride cycle by working on their stride one leg at a time at a faster rate than the athlete is able to achieve in a full stride.  This trains neuromuscular coordination.


Bungees can be used to launch an athlete forward at a faster rate of speed than the athlete would normally produce.  This causes the athlete’s body to respond in kind by turning his or her feet over fast enough to maintain the artificially induced rate of speed.  This is a classic example of over speed training.

Teaching speed requires a well trained expert, the right curriculum and enough space to undertake perfect practice.

Todd Williams is available to answer athletes’ questions and can be reached via email at or by phone at 760.444.0097.

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