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Sprinting Drills for Beginners: The 3 Most Important Exercises

Sprinting drills for beginners demonstrated by Azeem Fahmi

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"Unlock Speed: 10 Essential Drills for Immediate Results!"

"Sprinting Cheat Codes, Ultimate Short Cuts to Speed!"

Sound familiar? 

If you're a beginner sprinter, a coach working with youth athletes, or a parent navigating the world of athletics, chances are you've encountered these enticing headlines. 

The internet is filled with flashy promises and quick-fix solutions, each claiming to be the key to faster sprinting speed.

And I get it, you got to stand out to get those clicks. Our YouTube channel has a few titles that rank right up there with the best of them.

But here's the real deal: speed development doesn't happen instantly or come from a scattered approach.

In fact, the reality is quite the opposite.

Focusing on three specific sprinting drills for beginners featured in this guide can make you faster.

It also sets a solid foundation for adding additional drills as the athlete progresses into a full sprint training program.

So, why limit it to just three?

Because mastering 3 sprinting exercises is far more beneficial than being mediocre at say 10 or 15. 

Favour Ashe demonstrating sprinting drills for beginners develop proper ground contact.

Progress in sprinting comes from applying fundamental sports science, leveraging the wisdom of experienced, successful coaches, and committing to sprinting exercises that have been proven to deliver results.

And here is the best part.

These three exercises aren't merely sprinting drills for beginners; they are routinely performed by the world's top sprinters. And the reason is because they continue to work. 


Once athletes master these three exercises, incorporating new more advanced sprinting drills becomes significantly easier.

This improvement is due to the nervous system's ability to adapt after athletes practice consistently hitting the correct positions. This foundation enables a smooth transition to more complex sprinting drills, free from the introduction of bad habits.

So, let's cut through the hype and focus on what genuinely works. It's time to dive deep and unlock your speed!

Drill 1 - The A Skip

The A-Skip is probably the most important drill you'll do in track and field.

That's a bold claim, I know. But in just a few minutes, you'll be a believer ;).

The A-Skip develops so many elements of proper sprinting form; in the world of drills, it's the ultimate 'bang for your buck'.

Here's a rundown of the top five reasons why A-Skips have earned their spot in the sprinting drills hall of fame:

  • Proper Ground Contact: This is a big one. One of the most common mistakes beginning sprinters make is running on their toes. To maximize speed, you need good dorsiflexion and contact on the ball of the foot. It's the first step to proper sprinting form.
  • Posture: A-Skips help athletes get used to moving with a neutral head position, good hip height, and a straight back. These are all the ingredients needed to transfer power to the track.
  • Arm Movement: Stationary arm drills are good, but training arm movement with motion is better because it carries over sprinting more effectively.
  • Rhythm and Timing: This drill focuses on rhythm and coordination, crucial for syncing your body's movements at high speeds. By practicing the A-Skip, beginners can develop a sense of timing and learn how to use their legs and arms in harmony efficiently.
  • Frontside Mechanics: The A-Skip introduces the concept of knee lift, which is essential for maximizing stride length and stride frequency. Developing the ability to lift the legs to 90 degrees while keeping an upright torso separates good from great. You need strong hip flexors to do that, and A-Skips will help get you there.

All of this sounds great, right?

But there's a catch...as with all sprinting drills for beginners, they have to be done correctly.

How To Do An A Skip

Here's a breakdown of the steps and key focus areas for mastering the A-Skip.

The video below provides even more precise guidance.

Plus, you'll have the chance to see these techniques demonstrated by Azeem Fahmi, an athlete with remarkable proficiency in sprinting drills (I don't think I have ever seen a better A-skip).

  1. Posture and Setup: Start by standing tall, with your hips positioned high. Keep your chin level and your gaze straight ahead, ensuring you're neither looking down nor up. The aim is to maintain a posture that radiates confidence and readiness, steering clear of any slouching.
  2. Arms: Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle (which goes for all sprinting drills for beginners). This specific angle is essential for maintaining balance, speed and establishing a rhythm throughout the drill. It also serves as practice for the correct arm movement during an actual sprint.
  3. Legs and Feet: The importance of dorsiflexion cannot be overstated. So you want to draw your toes up towards your shin. Make sure that when your foot touches the ground, it's right under your hips. This technique boosts your running efficiency and replicates the ideal ground contact needed for powerful sprinting.
Watch Coach Ken Harnden teach the correct way to perform an A Skip

Drill 2 - Butt Kicks

The next sprinting drill on our list is the butt kick, but not the version most of us are used to from our early training days.

This drill differs from the traditional approach; it doesn't involve bending at the waist or merely flipping the foot upwards.

We want to move away from promoting excessive backside mechanics and poor technique.

While backside mechanics play a role in our sprinting form, it's crucial that they're executed correctly—they should involve a push followed by a pull.

This refined butt kick drill is designed to teach sprinters how to efficiently lift their legs up quickly after each stride, a pivotal aspect of achieving high-speed running.

It's also a drill that is an essential part of a well designed track and field warm up.

It focuses on enhancing the leg recovery phase's efficiency, allowing sprinters to reduce the time their feet spend off the ground.

The result? A notable increase in speed.

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How To Do A Butt Kick

  1. Posture and Setup: Similar to the A-Skip, start by standing tall, with your hips high and a neutral head position. Don't lean forward or backward
  2. Arms: Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. They should move straight, not side to side, and keep with the rhythm of the legs.
  3. Legs and Feet: You need to work on pulling the foot to the butt rather than picking up the foot to the butt and looping the leg. Doing it correctly should look similar to a high-knee drill. Keep the shin angle tight and tuck that foot up underneath the butt. Check out the video to see it in action. 

Drill 3 - Straight Leg Run

While the first two sprinting drills drills for beginners are the pillars of developing great running technique, the straight leg run can elevate your speed to new heights.

This drill is not just an addition; it plays a crucial role in building hamstring strength and refining your sprinting form. 

It can also help prevent injuries.

The focus here is on lifting the leg in a straight manner, maintaining dorsiflexion of the foot, and efficiently pulling it back under the hip.

It serves as an excellent warm-up exercise and is instrumental in teaching the importance of pulling the foot directly beneath the hip and developing hip-flexor and hamstring strength.

How To Do A Straight Leg Run

  1. Posture and Setup: Start by standing tall, with a straight back and neutral hips. (starting to notice a pattern here 🙂 ) ?
  2. Arms: Really focus on good, fast hands with this drill. Again, keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. If the hands get sloppy, the foot will drift in front of the hips, which defeats the purpose of the drill. 
  3. Legs and Feet: Make sure that your foot lands directly underneath your hip, pulling with the hamstring. The legs should be straight, and the foot should be dorsiflexed. This attention to detail in posture and leg movement is what makes the straight-leg run such a valuable asset in your sprinting drill arsenal.

The Importance of Consistency in Sprinting Drills for Beginners

As we wrap up this guide, it's crucial to underline the importance of consistency in practicing these drills. Success in sprinting, as with most things in life, doesn't come from sporadic effort but from dedicated, regular practice. 

For athletes, this means engaging fully with each drill, not merely going through the motions. Don't let your mind wander while doing these drills; focus is paramount.

Each movement and step should be performed with deliberate attention to form and technique.

For coaches, the warm up offers invaluable opportunities to observe and analyze.

Watching your athletes closely as they perform these drills allows you to pinpoint areas of strength and those needing improvement.

It's a chance to provide targeted feedback and guide your athletes in refining their technique.

Elevating Your Sprinting Game: The Path Forward

Mastering these three sprinting drills for beginners is just the beginning of the journey to maximizing speed.

Whether you're an aspiring sprinter looking to get faster or a dedicated coach aiming to elevate your athletes' performance, the quest for speed is a relentless pursuit of precision, power, and perfection.

To truly unlock your sprinting potential and take your skills to the next level, we invite you to explore our Sprinting Drills Alpha Master Class.

This comprehensive program is designed to delve deeper into the nuances of sprinting mechanics, offering advanced techniques, coaching insights, and the same progression that Coach Ken Harnden used to develop some of the world's fastest runners.

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2 comments on “Sprinting Drills for Beginners: The 3 Most Important Exercises”

  1. It's a great lesson for those who has never ending quest for learning the finer points of sprinting.

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