Jereem Richards of Trinidad & Tobago (© Getty Images)
Before he became one of the world’s leading sprinters, Trinidad and Tobago's Jereem Richards worked as a personal trainer.
He then hit the big time in 2017, earning 200m bronze and 4x400m gold at the World Athletics Championships in London.
Here the sub-20-second sprinter identifies several key drills and a couple of fun games to help develop speed in both youngsters and adults.
A trio of drills
In many ways, the human body is just like a car. The engine needs to be running for a while in order to be able to reach top speed. And three drills I know which help the body move quicker and mimic that feeling of touching the ground at pace are the high knee drill, the lower knee drill and the ankling drill. All three drills should be carried out twice each in an area 10 to 20 metres long.
For the high knee drill, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift the left knee to your chest, then switch to lift the right knee to the chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving to a sprinting pace.
The low knee drill is similar to the above except the knees should be lifted no higher than the lower trunk.
The ankling drill helps facilitate the proper loading and spring during running. Starting at the toe, push the foot down so that the heel barely touches the ground. Initially start by learning the movement, then gradually pick up the pace and keep the cadence high.
These drills prepare you for running fast and act as an excellent warm up for sprinting.
Speed can be developed through co-ordination. The better co-ordinated you are, the easier it is going to be for you to run in the most efficient way: in a straight line.
I remember simple exercises I used to do at primary school – such as jumping on one foot, foot hops and even games like hopscotch – were great for coordination. As we get older, we think this is irrelevant because they are kids’ games, but sometimes the body needs to re-learn these skills.
Hopscotch develops balance and stabilisation, foot and leg strength. Many of us have imbalances in the body and we might develop a stronger more dominant side. In order to sprint as quickly as possible, we need to get the body as close to perfect balance on both the left and right side.
Hand clap game
Agility is sometimes an overlooked element to be able to sprinting quickly. Yet to run quickly, you have to be able to react quickly, and I remember as a youngster playing a fun game to aid reaction times and develop agility.
One person would touch the inner palms of their hands together while another person would place one hand each about six inches from either side of the palms. The person on the outside would then try to strike the hands of the person whose palms were together before they could move them away. This is a fun agility game to help the muscles fire.