Two Simple Speed Drills for Young Athletes


In this video, I wanted to do something a little different and show you a few simple exercises you can use with young athletes to help children improve their sprint technique and run faster.

Working with young athletes like Noah and Eli is great because they pick things up so quickly!

These lads are both crazy about a bunch of different sports including football and rugby, and we spent twenty minutes in the park working on some simple drills which will help them improve their straight line speed across all sports.

For speed sessions like this, I find twenty minutes is about as long a session as you’d want to go with young athletes. Regular short, focused sessions are far more effective than giving too much to take-in all at once.

In this session, we worked on two simple drills – one to focus on stride length and knee lift, the other to work on arm drive – both important components in developing speed.

The first drill requires a wall. Here Noah and Eli are leaning-in towards the wall trying to keep a straight line throughout their body, pushing with their arms in a kind of standing plank position. The cue here is to pick their heels up and drive their knees forwards, while running in place and staying on their toes.

This teaches them to drive from the hips and keep their core tight, while encouraging a higher carriage of the foot, which will translate into greater stride length when they sprint.

We did 5 sets of 20 seconds of this drill, while working on technique throughout. Lots of rest in between sets, as the focus here is on quality and leaching the boys the movement.

A good tip for this one is to get your kids to listen to their feet as they perform the drill. Each footfall should be light and controlled, rather than uncontrolled stomping which can sometimes occur if concentration wanders. Noah and Eli did brilliantly with this one.

Our second drill helps teach an effective arm drive, and can be a lot of fun!

For this drill, we take a long sitting position and flex the elbows to around ninety degrees. Keeping the hands and shoulders relaxed, the aim is to swing the arms back and forth fast, focusing on the backwards motion in particular.

Remember to keep your back straight as you perform this arm drive drill. With enough power coming from the arms, you should feel your butt bouncing up off the floor. In fact, a fun cue to use is work the arms so fast that you feel yourself bouncing on the ground!

Noah and Eli did 6 sets of 10 seconds working the arms as fast as possible. When they then got back to your feet and tried some sprints, it became easier to focus on arm speed. This then helps improve the speed of turn-over of the legs.

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Last updated on January 10th, 2019.
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