Today, I got a serious lesson in speed. I got to spend the day at Savannah State University with Abderaman Brahim; a 3 time track and field Olympian in the 100 meters and long jump. Brahim first came to America from the African nation of Chad at age 16 to pursue an international Olympic scholarship. He’s been burning up the track ever since, and after his competitive career was over he became one of the top track coaches in his area. He’s USATF certified and a member of the IFTA of America.
I asked Brahim to give me his best crash course on sprinting. We covered specific dynamic warm-ups, sprint mechanics, specialty training equipment, and talked a lot about his philosophies for speed development. The drills we went over will make you faster and more effective in any sport, and I’ll be featuring some demo. videos to go over specific techniques you can use to gain that extra step later this week. In the meantime, here are coach Brahim’s four pillars of speed development:
1- Technique and coordination: Abderaman uses the same dynamic warm-up before every training session. Besides providing a good warm-up to prevent injury, these dynamic drills hammer home specific techniques over and over again with repetition. Proper stride length and consistent drive through the ball of the foot are the biggest focus. Also, remember to use your arms; they should travel forward and back with power, but not across your body.
2- Posture: You’ll need a strong core to maintain proper posture as you run. An athlete with poor posture will not be able to produce peak force and speed. You want to maintain a neutral spine and pelvis. Each stride should create a 90* angle between your torso and thigh. Then, with the proper support from your core, keep your neck and shoulders as relaxed as possible. Brahim says that if you’re having trouble staying loose, you can try turning your head to each side as if to look at the crowd. Consciously drill this default posture home in your warm-ups, your training sessions, and all day long.
3- Power: No one can be fast without some horsepower. Strength makes speed. Don’t neglect your work in the weight room. Build your base with the basics like squat and deadlift. Then add in some Olympic weightlifting, box jumps, and medicine ball work. Short, high intensity sprints will also build power and muscle.
4- Flexibility: Without basic flexibility/mobility, you’ll never be able to hit the positions necessary for your proper sprint mechanics or maintain the correct posture throughout your run. The movements in your dynamic warm-up, plus some post training stretching specifically for mobility will keep you limber. You’ll also prevent a lot of injuries. Brahim pays special attention to ankle mobility. Try including some basic rotation drills for the ankles after each run.
It all seems pretty simple, huh? Brahim says it really is. Drive through the ball of your foot, push against the ground with power, and keep good posture. Then it’s just a matter of practicing the technique and coordination for perfect sprint technique with some sprint-specific drills. I’ll get some demo. videos up soon to get you started!
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