Can you imagine only 11 players have an under 4.3 seconds 40-yard dash record at the NFL combine since 2013? That’s a super low number considering the hundreds of athletes participating in the event yearly.
But what’s even more mind-boggling is that only two players have run the dash in under 4.25 seconds. Those two players are none other than the fastest men in the NFL – John Ross and Chris Johnson.
So, what’s the secret to their speed? How do they manage to run so fast?
There are two elements of how to run faster in football: improving your stride length and rate. Your arm and leg cycling pace during a sprint dictates your stride rate. Stride length is the distance covered between strides.
Let’s look at what exercises enhance these elements, hence how to get faster at sprinting.
Quick Feet Drill
This drill is one of the best workouts to get faster for football that involves stride rate development.
Here’s a fantastic quick feet drill:
- Bend elbows at right angles with your open palms facing each other.
- Put a hand to your cheek’s level in front of you and slightly to the side.
- Have the other hand at butt cheek level and slightly sideways. The arms must remain at right angles, and the open hands must graze the pockets. That ensures you aren’t raising the shoulders and stiffening in posture.
- Bring your knees halfway up and sprint as quickly as possible, in place, for 20 seconds. Ensure that your knees are straight and your heels aren’t touching the ground.
- Rest for a minute.
- Redo the drill five times.
Analyze your fit from one 20-second session to the next. Also, count the times your right foot hits the ground, representing your stride rate.
Fast Arms Drill
This is a superb workout to boost your stride rate. Here’s how to perform arm drills to get faster for football:
- Align your arms the same way as you did for the quick feet drill.
- Standing upright and in place, run the sprint motion with your arms for 20 seconds as quickly as possible.
Keep your feet slightly bent even if you aren’t yet sprinting. As you advance, raise your time to half a minute before resting. Making the motions with dumbbells provides a more comprehensive arm workout.
Younger players should begin with five repeats with one-minute breaks between the drill.
Having grasped how to move your arms and legs, it’s time to combine the two and do real sprint workouts. Find an area where you can sprint for 30-50 yards before beginning this exercise.
Your objective is to run with excellent form: knees rising waist-high, hands swinging from the face to the butt. Maintain swift, strong movements that cover more ground with each step.
So, how do you make short sprints?
- Do warm-up stretches.
- Mark the running distance.
- Sprint end-to-end on command while maintaining correct alignment.
- Take a 2-3-minute rest.
- Repeat 1-3 five times.
Add a sprint per week till you attain 10 sprints per session.
How Do Beginners Improve Sprints?
The most vital part of a sprint is the start. If you commence well, you can rack up speed fast. Align yourself as low to the ground as possible and pump while trying to remain low. As you do this, don’t hunch your back.
The low-level start is especially crucial for the first few steps. Remember to pump your hands just as hard as you work your legs. Have the arms to your sides to achieve the forward-back movement and not a sideways movement.
Starting the sprint at a higher level makes you lose your angle of attack faster. Hence, you’ll be pushing yourself up rather than forward.
Push the ground back with your cleats at an angle rather than a vertical upward push followed by a leg drop.
Seamless direction changes complement fast speeds. Mastering how to turn is essential in quick maneuvers through football gap numbers and gaining yardage.
Many players change direction in an overemphasized curve design that affects their momentum and form.
Your direction change should be smooth. It should allow you to resume your run at a low angle that promotes the forward-emphasized move. You can touch the ground after turning if you’re not getting low enough.
Many have a foot move from the back to the same position as the other foot before advancing. That increases the number of steps you’re making, and you want to keep these to a minimum.
Don’t step into the tilt: jump in with both legs. Have the foot at the back move past the other without making a mid-run stop at the same position.
How you align your feet during the turn matters too. Ensure your shoes point straight to where you’re headed as you make the first step after the turn.
Finally, anticipate your turn to ensure you go through smoothly.
High Knee Run
This workout boosts your stride length. It gives your legs and core strength and stamina. As a result, it ensures that you maximize and sustain top speeds over extended durations and distances.
To execute it:
- Align your arms just as you did with the foot and arm drills above.
- Run in place for 20 seconds while raising the knees hip-high. Ensure that your knees are pointed directly forward. Your hands should just touch your pockets as your heels remain off the ground.
- Rest for three minutes.
- Redo 1-3 five times.
Remember to keep tabs on your shape and stride rate as you did with the quick feet drill.
Rounding out our list of how to get better at football by yourself are simple squat exercises. The more power you inject into your stride, the more ground you’ll cover. Squats are excellent for stride length.
- Put your feet shoulder-width wide and forward-facing.
- As you squat, keep your head up, push the butt back, and lower your hips. Beginners can use chairs to ensure excellent depth.
- Repeat the squats 19 times in quick succession.
- Rest for three minutes.
- Repeat 2&3, 3-5 times.
Stretching Before Speed Exercises
Warm up correctly to avoid issues like pulled hamstrings mid-workout.
One way to stretch your hamstrings is to lean down and focus on having your knees as locked down as possible. Hold the top of your feet if you can’t touch the ground.
Next, sit in agura, rakuza, or another relatable posture. Alternate between stretching your left and right leg forward while having the respective hand holding the toe tips.
Take your time with the stretches and do them severally. Try two to three times while holding for 10 to 30 seconds.
You can also combine your stretches with a resistance band. Begin by wrapping the band around one leg and pulling it as far toward your head as possible. You’ll need to lie down and raise your leg toward you.
Another optional accessory you can add to your hamstring stretch is leg foam rollers. Again, you’ll alternate between your legs. Place the roller underneath your hamstring and work it back and forth severally.
Football Running FAQS: Any Other Speed-Boosting Tips?
What Muscles Make You Run Faster?
Hamstring muscles make you run faster. These muscles are on the back of your thigh and work to extend your hip and bend your knee.
How Can You Motivate Yourself To Run Faster?
You can motivate yourself to run faster by scheduling runs. You can also join a running team or enlist a friend. Switch up your routes to make running enjoyable.
Besides, rewarding yourself for milestones, tracking, and running without your watch may help you go further.
What Foods Help You Run Faster?
Healthy foods help you run faster. Start your day with a slice of watermelon and coffee beside other nutritious meals you like. Have veggies like kale, white button mushrooms, and beetroot as the day progresses. Walnuts and cappers are great too.
Diet is a crucial part of speed enhancement, which is especially vital in games with fewer players, like eight man football.
Football is a challenging sport that demands power, speed, and agility. You must learn how to run faster in football to be the best player.
The first step toward speed improvement is giving running importance just as you do your technical skills. Tell yourself to go faster with every step, working your hands and legs in rhythm.
The best approach to becoming faster for football is to increase the length and frequency of your strides. Exercises like the rapid foot drill and the arm drill can help. To increase your stride length, you should also perform quick sprints and squats.
Finally, don’t forget to stretch before you do any speed exercises.
It’s time to get to work on enhancing your speed. Before you leave, find out why excellent running skills are more vital for flag football positions than regular ones.