It’s a common misconception that reaching out in front with your foot and “grabbing” the ground in front of you when you run makes you faster. When you reach in front of yourself, it forces your foot to contact the ground ahead of your body and applies force in the wrong direction. The result: You’re slowing yourself down with every step. This also puts a tremendous eccentric load through your hamstrings, leaving you more prone to muscle injury.
To run at top speed, shift your mindset. Think less about pulling yourself to where you’re going and more about pushing yourself there. Focus on applying power to the ground down and back behind you so you’re pushing yourself with every step you take. You’ll hear crisp “pops” as your feet hit the ground and feel like someone is behind you giving a strong push.
Perform the series of exercises below to mimic the position your body should be in when accelerating and perfect your mechanics.
Start facing a wall. Place your hands on the wall and lean forward so your ears, shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Lift your right knee and foot off the ground toward the wall and hold. Hold each rep for 15 seconds. Repeat twice.
Start in the same position as the first drill. Lift your right knee and foot off the ground toward the wall. Drive your knee and foot down to your starting position. Now lift your left knee and foot and drive down to the ground. Perform eight reps on each side. Repeat twice.
Begin in the same position as the previous drill. Lift your right knee and foot off the ground toward the wall. Hold. Quickly drive your right foot back to your starting position as your left knee and foot lift forward and hold. Perform five reps on each side. Repeat twice.
For more tips, drills, and workouts to improve your performance on the pitch, visit our EXOS soccer section.