I absolutely hate those articles where the title lure's you in all click-bait-y, you click it and then they don't give you the answer or they give you half an answer right at the end. This is not one of those articles...
Most athletes get enough running-based conditioning in a typical week as a result of playing and training but in the holidays when that playing and training goes away, it's really important that athletes keep a baseline of high-speed running and ground reaction forces in their body, so that when they return to sport, they're not creating any problems. We've talked before about how important it is to keep a floor and a ceiling on your training volume, especially when you're going on holidays or having a break from sport. But we've also talked about how bad continuous exercise and jogging and you're running laps and laps of an oval for sport-specific fitness. The much better solution is to do repeat sprint training.
Sport specific fitness is something that's very unique and hard to replicate away from actually playing sport. Now depending on your sport and the position you play will vary as to whether this drill is purely specific to you but this simple drill is a great way to replicate the movement patterns and the intensity of most team and ball sports.
Start with some space...
The most common way you'll hear people talk about sprint training is that to improve your speed you need to work hard on your stride length and/or stride frequency. Now, I wouldn't go so far to say that's wrong, but it's a little bit too much of a simplification.
During different phases of the sprint, there's an emphasis towards length or frequency and this is very deliberate. In the acceleration phase, your stride length is deliberately shorter. This is to allow more steps in less time so it can help break inertia and put more force into the ground.
Podcast 11 Minutes - Lifting heavy weights does not make you slower, in fact, it makes you faster!
A common myth and concern we hear from our athletes is that if they lift too heavy they will start getting slower.
Done properly strength training should serve to make an athlete faster and more explosive.
Podcast (11 Minutes) - What is the ONE THING to be focusing on when coaching sprinting/acceleration mechanics?
While track athletes place a heavy emphasis on the skill of running and focus plenty of their training time on the technical components of good sprinting and running mechanics it is athletes on either end of the spectrum (team sport athletes and recreational runners) who are often desperately in need of putting more attention and focus on the biomechanics and technical details of running more efficiently. Not only does better running technique increase acceleration power and top speed, it also reduces injury risk by reducing braking forces and joint stress.