Running speed is crucial in many sports. Sports like football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse and, of course, track require speed. In order to understand it you need to know how it is generated in the human body.
There are 3 elements that contribute to running speed: biomechanics, force into the ground and frequency. All three can be coached and developed.
Mechanics involves putting the body into the correct position in order to gain maximum leverage at top speed. The body should be upright. There should be what we call midline stabilization. The legs use this upright body position to push the body forward.
Force into the ground refers to the push off the ground that is generated by the legs. The more push a person can generate, the further the distance traveled. A person pushes off that stabilized body. Force into the ground involves strength and power training. A person needs to develop the ability to quickly transfer force into the ground. This is called developing power. Lifting and plyometrics can develop these characteristics.
The third element in developing speed is frequency. Frequency refers to the ability one has to cycle their legs. The faster a person can cycle their legs, the more momentum they will develop. This process must be coordinated. A person must avoid being out of control or overstriding. They must stay over their stabilized body.
Overspeed training contributes to this process. Forcing the legs to cycle more quickly improves frequency. Increased frequency leads to greater momentum.
This is where the high speed treadmill comes in. It is an excellent tool for teaching frequency, midline stabilization and coordination. With proper instruction a person can learn to cycle faster and maintain proper body position. What results is improved coordination. Ultimately the high speed tread teaches better transfer of power into the ground. It improves the ability to generate momentum.
The high speed treadmill also has 2 other uses. It is useful in developing glute and hamstring strength. Running backward teaches the athlete to engage their glutes. This is an asset to an athlete in terms of starting power and jumping power.
Finally, the high speed treadmill coupled with the appropriate support system can be used to develop agility. It can teach lateral movement. It can also teach an athlete how to open their hips and turn. Agility is a separate athletic characteristic and this allows the individual to focus on it and pushes them to improve in unique ways.
Sprinting is complex. It involves many components. The high speed treadmill allows the athlete to maximize their frequency and therefore maximize their potential.