A list of common training mistakes that are done that actually hurt an athletes sprinting ability
Athletes all across the world are constantly training and pushing themselves to get to the next level, and getting faster can be the difference of getting a scholarship or not. However, most of the time spent training for speed is wasted doing the WRONG stuff.
“Speed must be trained in a non-fatigued state"
One of the number 1 mistakes people make while training for speed is that they don't allow for enough rest in between sprints. Speed must be trained in a non-fatigued state. This means the legs must be fully recovered between each sprint. Most coaches run too many sprints back to back with inadequate rest periods. This may look good, as the athlete will be breathing hard and will look tired. However, this type of training will result in no increase in maximum speed. A good rule of thumb is to take a minute of rest for every 10 yards of distance sprinted. So if an athlete wants to train for the 40 yard dash, he/she must take at least 4 minutes of rest between each sprint to optimize effectiveness.
"Running long distance makes you slower"
The second biggest mistake we see is that too many coaches have their athletes run too much distance. Running long distances make you slower. However, a large amount of track coaches have their short sprinters running the mile during practice. This longer distance can dull the nervous system and really inhibit an athletes' rate of force. Not to mention that longer distance can negatively effect sprinting mechanics and also lead to pain in the hips and knees. Keep the distances short when trying to maximize speed. In fact, you should sprint only as far as you can go in 6 seconds or less if truly trying to train "maximum speed."
"Sprinting with too heavy of a load will slow you down"
A very common method of speed training is resisted sprinting using a weighted sled. This is a very effective method if done right. Research has shown time and time again for 10-15% of an athlete"s body weight to be used as the external load on the sled. However, somewhere down the line coaches all across the world thought more was better. As a result, you see athletes all over instagram posting videos of them grinding down the field with 50 lbs of a sled. This is killing their sprinting ability. Sprinting with too heavy of a load will slow you down. It causes an increase in ground contact time, and negatively affect sprint mechanics. Its causes and athlete to over stride and really slows down the contraction rate of the muscles.