So you want to have lightning fast feet?
First, look at those slower than you
These might be people who exercise less, be more overweight, or are much older than you. Watch them move, take steps, change direction, make a quick move to get out of the way or hurry from one place to another.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Chances are, the reason you are faster or quicker will not have much to do with how rapidly you can move your feet up and down when compared to them. You will notice that you may appear more coordinated and, more importantly, stronger than them.
Whenever we want to move from one place to another, be it a walk, a run, or weaving around defenders to score a touchdown, try or goal, there are the variables of physics at play and these need to be utilized optimally for any movement to be most efficient.
If you set off from a standing still position, you have to first either shift or push your centre of gravity (COG) towards the direction you want to go. COG is a theoretical point on your body which needs to be balanced to stay upright and is normally around your belly button when standing still.
Your feet and arms need to be coordinated in mechanically advantageous positions to best support the next two variables, absolute force and rate of force development (RFD). The last two variables should be of primary importance to the novice and intermediate athlete or fitness enthusiast. The neural adaptations needed shift COG or coordinate extremities are relatively easy to come by.
Strength gains take longer to achieve and can continue to improve performance long after a variety of drills have been exhausted. Strength training increases the amount of force you can put into the ground and can increase the rigidity throughout your body when that force is applied into the ground (“core strength”).
How fast the force is applied into the ground is also trainable, although perhaps less so than strength training. There are nuances that elite athletes were born with and the majority of society will never be able to attain to a similar level.
Some of these factors include fast twitch fibre dominance and tendon length/compliance. However I will not cover these here as they are out of the scope of this article. Now that we addressed some things that need to occur in order to move faster, let’s talk about some of the tools to get the job done.
The drills I will talk about now will, mainly, affect the efficiency of moving (coordination) and RFD within the strength base you currently have. In order to increase this base please start a well balanced resistance training program with compound lower body movements, such as squatting and dead lifting as the core lifts.
Technique drills are the movements that teach proper foot and arm positions, how to shift your COG properly and reinforce proper torso positions while the extremities are in different positions. Wall drills can be a great way to reinforce good posture and COG shift while also teaching the limbs how to move properly.
The simplest of these is accomplished by a simple wall lean. This can be done by leaning up against a wall with straight arms, standing as tall as possible. While doing so, squeeze your butt together and keep on the balls of your feet (not the toes).
Form running drills are another good way to teach control in a more dynamic setting. The easiest of these would be marching with high knees and accentuated arm movement. Dot and ladder drills fall into this category as well.
The objects of these movements are to move the feet, efficiently, through different patterns as quick as possible. Two easy ladder drills are the “shuffle” and “two-in-each”.
In part 2 William Jones continues to look at how we can make ourselves more powerful and faster by addressing acceleration drills.