Sprinting is one of the most common exercises that athletes are familiar with. However, it is often overlooked as a method for training vertical jump and agility. Remember that when we train for something like a better vertical jump, we are training our bodies to be efficient. This goes hand-in-hand with developing a solid mind/body neural connection.
One thing that sprinting is very good for is improving short response reactivity. This is basically your ability to be able to apply a large amount of force in a very small period of time. This type of force application is especially important since your jump height is directly related to the speed at which you release your energy (In other words, your body is like a big spring). In order to get good at this you need to train your body to release energy efficiently and automatically.
There are two very good ways to train your speed and agility with sprinting. One would be to use stand still sprinting, and the other is to use acceleration sprinting. Both of these exercises will greatly increase your speed, power, and agility. A side effect of these three things increasing is that your vertical jump will also increase. It may seem strange that horizontal motion (like sprinting) would help your vertical jump ability, but trust me….it does.
Stand Still Sprinting
Stand still sprinting is the most common exercise used among the sprinting athlete crowd. It’s basically what you see the guys in the olympics do. To begin, you should get down into a sprinter’s stance at a starting line that you’ve picked. All you have to do now is push off as hard as you can and sprint for about 40 yards. Repeat this exercise about 5 times.
Acceleration sprinting is only slightly different from stand still sprinting. In this exercise you will begin with a jog before you actually start sprinting. Start jogging at a predetermined starting line and increase your speed as you move along. By the time you’re about 25 yards from the starting line you should be in a full sprint. Repeat about 5 times.
Sprint Training and Technique
Here are a couple of recommendations when you start your sprint training. Remember that any of the exercises found on this site can be used for any sport, even if you’re not interested in increasing your vertical jump. This is especially true for sprinting. When you think of all the sports that require quickness and agility it’s pretty mind-blowing. Whether you’re a football, soccer, or basketball (etc.) player, here are a few tips to help with your sprinting ability:
- Make sure you stretch out your legs before attempting a full sprint. This is especially true if you haven’t done any sprinting in a while. The groin area is especially prone to injury as it is one of the most strained areas of the leg during a full on sprint. I’ve had a few occasions in which I pulled my groin so bad that I could barely walk.
- Always where lightweight shoes when you’re training for speed. You can where heavier shoes if you’re training for endurance, but remember that more weight puts more stress on your legs and feet.
- If you have very light and thin shoes you may want to consider buying some insoles for a little added cushion. The bones on the bottom of your feet will begin to ache after a while if you don’t have adequate padding.
- When you start a sprint be sure that you push off as hard as you can. This will get you moving at your fastest acceleration rate and will also train your body for quick, aggressive movements.
- This might sound stupid, but think of a ballerina when you run; quick, nimble, agile. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t be flopping your feet down on the ground like you have flippers on when you’re sprinting. Your feet should make minimum contact with the ground, but still apply a lot of force. The best way to do this is to run up on your toes. I find that this allows for greater speed as well as less stress on the leg joints and bones in the feet.
- Always pump the arms aggressively when you run. It helps build momentum and tells the rest of the body that it needs to get in gear. If your arms move like floppy noodles, your legs will follow suite.