T Nation

Speed and Footwork

I’m embarrassingly slow for my size (5’1, 106) I’m really athletic and such, but I’m just slow. I’m pretty clumsy in footwork, too. I lift and such, and I know to work the posterior chain for speed.

What I’m looking for is other suggestions for increasing my speed(short distances mostly, for tennis/softball type stuff.) and learning better footwork. Any ideas/suggestions/books would be greatly appreciated!

I hear swimming alot benefits foot quickness and agility in general. I’m not to educated on the different ideas regarding sprinting speed. Some say you can change it, some say its genetics.

It all comes down to your fast twitch muscle fibers yadda yadda… I think that if you continue to do work in the weightroom you’ll see improvements all around.

Jump rope for better footwork.

jump rope, short sprints (like 10 meters), run football routes, and just practicing the footwork in general.

this is one of those things that is best developed when you’re young. but im sure you can work on it now as well.

Also do footwork drills blindfolded.

Jumping rope is one of the best things you can do to get lighter on your feet. My coach made me start when I was in junior high and I found the better and better I got at the rope the better I felt on my feet on the field. Also, learn the dot drill and do it a few times a week. It’s a good measuring stick as to how much you are improving.


Are you male or female?

Female lol. Thought maybe my “stats” would give it away.

Sorry, I thought you might have been originally from Tokyo based on your name (there are more short, light males there).

You need to work on getting your nervous system to fire quickly. So perform the exercises when fresh (at the beginning of your workouts) and stop at the first sign of fatigue.

Stay on the balls of your feet and keep ground contact time to a minimum. Try to do as many hops as you can in a certain time (10-30 seconds), trying to beat your best number each time.

sample exercises:
-low box hops (hop onto and off of a low box)
-lateral hops over a cone
-multi-directional hops
-hops in a low squat position (hold the low squat position and bounce up and down using your ankles)

Jump rope and the dot drill, as suggested earlier, are also good.

For all of these, you can start with 2 legs, and progress to 1 leg as you get stronger and more proficient.

I’d choose 2 exercises and do 3 sets of each exercise, each set lasting 30 seconds, resting about 3 minutes in between (to get full recovery).

Get a cheap speed ladder or put down some tape in 1 inch squares. There’s all sorts of drills you can do in them to work on foot dexterity.

It’s not going to magically make you faster, but it will help you work your way to having “good feet” and foot dexterity.

Here’s a good link:

First of all, how can you be “really athletic and such” and be slow with poor footwork at the same time? That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Moving on from there, speed over a short distance such as in tennis and softball is mainly a function of explosive strength. Explosive strength relates directly to relative strength, so go from there.

And contrary to now popular belief, the p-chain is not the only group of muscles important for speed. In acceleration, the quads play a bigger role than the hamstrings and nearly as big a role as the glutes. So don’t neglect the quads.

As for footwork, a quiet and quick footfall and rebound is primarily due to adequate ability of the plantar flexors to absorb force. Start with pogo hops and eventually move towards altitude landings focusing on absorbing the force mainly with the PFs.

When you do move to altitude landings, start on a low box, <6", and before increasing the height make sure you can quietly and immediately break your descent. Incorrect application of this exercise will lead to joint problems and shin splints.

General dexterity and kisesthetic awareness also play a part in footwork. To help this, I recommend a healthy dosage of sports participation coupled with the various drills mentioned up to this point.

Hope that helped.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Jump rope for better footwork.[/quote]

I wholeheartedly agree.

Also, try improving your mobility and flexibility - pick up Pavel’s books on this, he has some excellent hip stretches.

Olympic lifting helps - at least it did for me, really coordinates your legs with your whole body.

Try one legged squats (pistols).

And lastly try picking up Mark Vergesten’s book called Core Performance, he has some excellent footwork and jumping drills in there and the strength training program will help with coordination.

Try the “Fast-feet” exercise? Sorry if that’s been mentioned before now.