Three Ways to Build Speed & Acceleration
Football players are always looking for an edge. One of the most common ways that players want to see an improvement is through their speed. Speed is a commodity in sports that has few equals. If a player is fast enough then they will find a spot on a team sometimes regardless of their height or weight.
When we talk about speed and acceleration understand that they are 2 completely different things. Speed is how fast you are in general while acceleration is the whole concept of how fast it takes to go from 0 to 60. How quick can you get to top speed? I'm of the belief that certain people are born with the ability to be fast while others aren't. Now speed can always be improved but I don't think you can take just anyone and turn them into Usain Bolt. I'm also of the belief that the first few steps are more important than any others in sports. In basketball, if you are dealing with a fast player he can be up and down the court in no time while football is different. The playing field is a lot larger. You have to be fast and be quick as you move laterally. It isn't easy.
Let's look at 3 ways to effectively build up speed / acceleration and get the most out of what your body will allow:
1. Know the proper mechanics
I watched someone run the other day whose arms went side to side instead of pulling them forward. The funny part is that this individual was naturally very fast despite the terrible mechanics that he was using. It's easy for me to see how fast this person could be if they focused on using the right mechanics. Here is a rundown of the main mechanics to be aware of:
a. Lean - The body should have a slight lean forward and not be straight up.
b. Keep your head still - Don't let your head swing side to side. Keep it as still as possible.
c. Use the balls of your feet - You should run on the balls of your feet and drive your feet off the ground.
d. Pump your arms - The arms need to pull you forward so you have to pump them by pushing your elbow backward
e. Short strides - When you first take off your strides need to be shorter and more powerful. You must focus on pushing hard off the ground for the first 2-3 steps to really build your acceleration.
2. Build leg muscles
Weight training should be a part of anyone's game plan who wants to be fast. To get the most out of what you are given you have to spend time in the weight room and get stronger legs. The stronger your legs are the more force you can use to push off the ground.
3. Engage in short, powerful sprints
To build your acceleration and speed you should work on short sprints to really build that muscle memory up and increase the amount of contractions that your muscles are making. The game of football involves lots of short bursts of speed, and very few long sprints. The best way to train is to get your body use to exploding with tons of energy as you run quick and powerful short sprints.