Athletes often want to be faster.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be?

At every level of competition – grade school, high school, college, elite – speed kills.

You can’t defend someone when you can’t keep up with them.  Am I right?

So, here’s a few ways in which to get a step on your competition.

1. Get Stronger

Running and jumping are results of applying force into the ground.  Apply more force and you’ll run faster and jump higher.

We don’t have to load up a 14-year old with 300 pounds on the squat, but with smart training we can improve their strength and thus their speed.

Strength isn’t just muscular either.  The nervous system needs to be trained, especially with young/new athletes.  As the neurological aspects of muscle firing and recruitment improve, so will their strength.

This process is also why many athletes will make tremendous gains in strength early on – they’re learning a new skill and becoming better at it every day/week.  Once they’ve become proficient at many bodyweight and unloaded lifts, we can slowly increase the poundage and build some muscle.

2. Learn How to Run/Jump

Technique makes a big difference, not only on the field or court but in the gym and weight room.  Someone who is more proficient in their mechanics will have an advantage over a more novice opponent.

With running, efficiency of movement and drive is important in both the legs and the arms.  Spending a little time every week on sprint and/or agility drills with good mechanics will go a long way.

Jumping is another “simple” activity, yet many people don’t understand the importance of proper landing and deceleration techniques.  This will carryover to both performance and injury prevention.

In a nutshell, always land softly with an athletic stance, absorbing the force with the hips while remaining balance.  Don’t be leaning forward way over the toes, and never let your knees cave in.

3. Lose Weight

Too many kids/parents want some magic training program that will transform little Johnny into the next Heisman Trophy winner.

Well if little Johnny is 50 pounds overweight – aside from being pre-diabetic – I’d be willing to bet that cleaning up his diet and spending less time playing video games would have a positive impact on his 40 yard dash.

Call me crazy, but if Johnny starting training with a solid program and quit eating so much sugar, he’d not only lose some excess weight but improve his strength too (see #1 above).  Throw in a little work on running technique and boom, now we have a winner.

Speed Racer Wasn't Obese
Speed Racer Wasn’t Obese

All that aside, just work hard.  No fancy program or training gizmo will ever trump attitude and effort.  Even a poorly designed training program will lead to improvement if executed with high intensity and a desire to kill it.  Quit majoring in minors.

Get stronger.

Eat healthy.

Seek some coaching.

Train/play to win!

Now get after it.  I don’t care how long you can balance on one foot on a bosu ball while holding 3 kettlebells and singing your school’s fight song. #rant

Lift some heavy weights. Run a lot of sprints. Rest. Repeat.

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