Large training facilities and vast expanses of turf are nice luxuries to have, but not everyone has access to such amenities for which to sprint, jump, and perform change-of-direction work.
Be you a strength coach in a small private studio, a personal trainer working with athletes in a commercial gym (and thus need to meander around lots of machines and free weights), or someone who can't take your clients outside for one reason or another, it can be easy to throw up your hands and say, "Well, guess I'll have to just work on other stuff instead."
Not so fast.
While you may not be able to perform 60yd sprint repeats, there are still boundless options one may employ within a small space in order to help you or your clients get faster and more agile. And even if you do work out of a larger space, I'm sure you'll still pick up on a number of useful tactics you can use either for your own training or that of your athletes.
Let's get started:
1. Strength Train
I won't belabor this point, as most of you know that getting stronger is key to improving not only force production but force absorption as well, both of which carry over into running faster and changing directions more quickly.
An often used analogy is that performing a bunch of archetypal "speed and agility work" without a foundation of strength is akin to taking a car and, rather than upgrading the engine, putting on a fancy spoiler, repainting the body, attaching some sweet rims to the tires, and then expecting it to win the next Grand Prix. Ain't gonna happen.
Fortunately, you don't need much space to train strength qualities. If you have a 6' x 4' open spot on the floor for a squat rack, then you have enough room to do everything required for getting stronger, and, often by extension, faster.
2. Transitional Speed Drills
The beauty of these is manifold in that not only do they help athletes practice change-of-direction and acceleration mechanics, but they can be done in such a small area. By setting up two markers five yards apart, you'll have upwards of thirty variants in your programming quiver by manipulating combinations of:
- Side Shuffling
Here are a bunch of examples so you can see what I mean:
And who says you always need to do the classic 5-10-5? Why not take the same concept but make it a 2.5-5-2.5 for a smaller space?
And, if you have a little more room, say 10-15 yards, you can take the concept of the sprinting, backpedaling, and side shuffling and mix and match them to do something like this:
3. Five Yard Starts
Starts are great for a number of reasons that I won't delve into today, but an added benefit of short-distance starts is, on top of being able to do them in a small space, the chance of injury is drastically reduced due to the athlete not being able to reach peak acceleration.
Here are a few ideas:
4. Hurdle Jumps and Hops
There's no shortage of variety here, for both the beginners and the advanced in the crowd. Here are some of the variables you have to toy with:
- Hopping (one leg)
- Jumping (two legs)
- Medial hops and jumps
- Lateral hops and jumps
- Forward hops and jumps
- Sticking the landing
- Not sticking the landing (being more "reactive")
- Going for height
- Going for distance
And to top it off, you don't need a large area to do these variations! Even if you only have room to set up one or two hurdles or cones, that will be more than enough to get you what you need.
To give you an idea of just how much is possible, the Concentric Brain database comes preloaded with 335 different hop and jump variations, and that's not even scratching the surface!
Here are examples to get your brain juices flowing:
Want some other ideas, do you? Well, now you're just being greedy.