Many athletes strive to improve their speed in their given sports, and the best speed training drills will focus on developing muscles that will provide such speed. Known as fast twitch muscles, these small muscle fibers help a runner, cyclist, or other athlete build speed quickly and maintain it for short to medium bursts. All speed training drills should begin with a thorough warm-up that involves stretching and running or cycling at a moderate pace, and they end with a cool-down period of the same. Choose speed training drills that are pertinent to the sport in which you intend to participate.
Two of the most popular forms of speed training drills are interval training and ladder exercises. These are some of the best speed training drills because they help build fast twitch muscles as well as developing agility. Interval training involves running or cycling at varying speeds, with rest periods in between. A typical interval training session might go something like this: run at a moderate pace for twenty minutes to warm up; then sprint at 90 percent effort level for one to two minutes; next, run at a moderate to slow pace for 30 seconds; then run at a 90 percent sprint for one to two minutes; after several repetitions, run at a moderate to slow pace to cool down for five to ten minutes.
Ladder exercises involve the use of a ladder or similarly designed obstacle. These exercises help develop speed, and they also encourage agility, as the user will have to navigate through the obstacle quickly and carefully. Some sample ladder exercises include the forward sprint through the rungs of the ladder; a forward high step through the ladder; and a lateral sprint through the rungs of the ladder. A lateral sprint requires the athlete to move in a sideways direction through the ladder, which improves agility for sports such as soccer or football.
Of course, all training sessions that include speed training drills can benefit from simple sprints. Sprints mimic real motions that will take place during an athletic match, so practicing them is a good idea. All sprinting drills should focus on good form, including setting at the starting line correctly, performing strong strides, changing direction quickly, and maintaining good posture throughout. Cones are indispensable when performing sprinting drills; set them up several yards apart to practice short distance sprinting. Set them perpendicular to each other to practice changing directions quickly as well.