How to Sprint Fast like Anthony Schwartz
GOAL: The goal of this article is to help you understand the importance of horizontal foot speed when striking the ground to achieve elite sprinting speed.
Understanding this will help with 60, 40, 20, and 10 yard dash times. To avoid slowing down when your foot strikes the ground you must have your foot moving backward as fast as possible at ground contact.
The Faster you can move your foot backward, the faster the sprint. At the end of the article, I also provide a 2-week training program to help you increase your horizontal foot speed when striking the ground.
HORIZONTAL FOOT SPEED
When sprinting to avoid slowing down when your foot strikes the ground, you must have your foot moving backward as fast as possible at ground contact. The Faster you can move your foot backward, the faster the sprint. This idea and movement is an important thing to think about because to sprint faster you must find a way to push backward on the ground.
Here is where things get interesting:)
The Fastest sprinters and athletes on the planet (think Anthony Schwartz) are moving at 12 yards per second forward, to have the foot moving backward at ground contact the foot must be moving more than 12 yards per a second backward.
Its kinda like you are in a car traveling 40 miles per hour. You stick your hand out the window as you approach a telephone pole. Although the pole is not moving, your hand strikes the pole at 40 miles per hour since that is how fast the car is moving.
Now, if you move your hand forward an additional 10 miles per hour (in relation to the car) just before you reach the telephone pole, your hand will now be traveling 40 miles per hour when it strikes the pole (40 + 10 = 50).
If, instead of moving your hand forward, you move it backward at 20 miles per hour (in relation to the car), your hand will strike the pole at only 20 miles per hour (40-20 = 20).
If you have the ability to move your hand backward at 40 miles per hour in relation to the car, the car’s forward speed and the hand’s backward speed would (40-40) put things at zero and there would be no impact on your hand.
This is the technical challenge when sprinting at an elite speed. Moving forward at 11 or 12 yards per a second means to avoid hitting the ground with the foot moving forward, your leg movement must be that your foot is striking at a speed of 11 or 12 yards per a second.
If you cannot produce a backward foot speed equal to your forward velocity, just like the hand hitting the pole, your foot will receive a backward push or braking force, slowing you down. The Best Sprinters and the Fastest Athletes on the Planet are able to minimize the problem by producing backward footspeed’s that are close to their forward sprinting speed.
Its kinda like a carpenter wanting to put a nail into a piece of wood. The harder he swings that hammer the more power he is going to put into that nail. Another great example of a basketball player dribbling a basketball. The harder he dribbles that basketball, the more force he is going to put into the ground.
HOW TO IMPROVE HORIZONTAL FOOT SPEED UTILIZING RELATIVE STRENGTH AND THE TRAP BAR DEADLIFT
Horizontal Foot Speed has a lot to do with how much Force you create. The two main factors in speed are stride frequency and stride length, and both are products of how much force your body creates with the ground.
So if you can improve the amount of force you create with every step, then you are going to dramatically impact your sprinting speed. The more Force you can create the more you can get your legs moving backwards. Relative Strength is a great indicator of the amount of Force you can Generate while Sprinting.
Relative Strength (RS): How much weight you can lift, or force that you can apply, compared to your body weight.
Ryan Flaherty a true innovator in the speed and performance industry is a Senior member of the Nike Performance Council who developed an algorithm called a “force number” that is based on the trap bar deadlift – also called the hex bar deadlift – and body weight to predict speed, such as the 40-yard dash.
Maximum Hex Bar Deadlift / Bodyweight = Force Number
Example 1. Hex bar deadlift = 300 / Bodyweight = 150, Force Number = 2.0
Example 2. Hex bar deadlift = 400 / Bodyweight = 150, Force Number = 2.66
According to his Algorithm, The Higher the Force Number the Faster the Sprint.
A higher force number equals greater force production. Greater Force production equals faster speed and a higher vertical jump.
When sprinting, a person who takes fewer steps by taking longer strides generally wins. A easy breezy example of this is Usain Bolt who took 42 strides to Win his 100 meter dash compared to the rest of the field which was averaging out at around 45.
HOW TO IMPROVE HORIZONTAL FOOT SPEED UTILIZING THE MEDICINE BALL
Personally I prefer utilizing the medicine ball to improve relative strength compared to heavy weight training. Lifting heavy a heavy trap bar to improve relative strength is effective, but I think that the speed and power industry puts a little bit too much of an emphasis on heavy weight training.
Similar results can be created utilizing a functional training tool like the medicine ball. I think this is especially valuable in 2020 because the pandemic is restricting athletes access to heavy weights.
I train a ton of wide receivers, kick returners, defensive backs, basketball players, 100 meter sprinters, and kids. The majority of these athletes myself included do not really enjoy lifting heavy weights.
WHY THE MEDICINE BALL WORKS TO IMPROVE RELATIVE STRENGTH AND DEVELOP EXPLOSIVE POWER
The medicine ball increases the development of motor engrams, the neurological “motor-skill programs” that coordinate the recruiting, synchronizing, and firing of your muscles and connective tissues to efficiently maximize power production. That is a skill you can develop and improve.
When you are training with a medicine ball, the more force you put into it, the more resistance it’s going to give back. When you as an athlete maximize your effort all the way through the movement, you are recruiting more motor engram units at every stage and generating more force in the process.
When lifting heavy weights, your force production is decreasing at the end ranges of your motion. Because you’re no longer trying to accelerate the weight. You are decelerating it at the end of the movement to control the momentum trying to lift it.
The end range of motion is the most important part of the lift.
The Trap-Bar is a perfect example of this. You want to be to explode through that triple extension.
This is why Louie Simmons and the INSANE guys at Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio originally started the now-popular use of putting chains and bands on weightlifting bars to increase resistance at the end range of motion.
This approach is scientifically proven to boost strength, power and explosiveness because you are able to accelerate the bar through a full range of motion. It works but it requires a ton of time and practice to improve your weight room skills.
Personally I think a better use of your time would be practicing your sport.
I love medicine ball workouts to improve horizontal foot speed and relative strength because the amount of force you produce is going up through the full range of motion.
This type of force signature is much more aligned with how you jump, sprint, cut, and throw.
When you do medicine ball workouts you train utilizing your entire body, and you are increasing motor engram development and tissue recruitment in ways that directly translate to better force output at the very end range of your output, where it matters most.
HOW TO IMPROVE HORIZONTAL FOOT SPEED: NUTRITION
Nutrition plays a major factor in relative strength, that’s the bottom line. Check out my article here on the 3 Simple Laws of Sports Nutrition, also I have recently been experimenting with the Carnivore diet and have seen some CRAZY positive benefits. You can e-mail me if you want to know more about that.
The Faster your Foot is Moving Backward when Striking the Ground the Faster you Will Sprint. You can Develop this Skill through Training.
2 Week Increase Horizontal Foot Speed Training Plan. Sprint Fast like Anthony Schwartz
Challenge yourself and experiment doing the 3 Simple Laws of Sports Nutrition over the Next 2 Weeks.
Apply the 3 Simple Laws of Sports Nutrition
Elite Playmaker Performance Preparation
Why we do do this Movement? Remove Muscle Imbalances.
Why we do these before every series? To activate the Glutes. The Glutes are the most Powerful muscles in the body. The more we utilize these Powerful muscles the more Horizontal Velocity we will have. Do 5 of these each side at the start of every series.
Overspeed Medicine Ball Rotational Throws
Why we do this Movement? Fast Twitch Activation and Explosive Power
Throw the ball Explosively. Rest 10 Seconds. Repeat 4x.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Why do this at the end of every series? To reduce mobility restrictions.
Do 30 seconds each side.
Rest 5 minutes. Then Repeat above Sequence 4x.
Elite Playmaker Performance Preparation
Acceleration Ladder Sprints
Test your Horizontal Velocity. Focus on Leading with your Chest. No Overstriding.
Do 1 Rest 10 Seconds and Repeat 4x.
Hip Flexor StretchRest 5 minutes.
Then Repeat above Sequence 4x.