Got a question about distances for sprinting for someone in a team sport, not track and field. One of the things mentioned was using short sprints, 30m for example. The logic behind that is team sports like football and basketball consist mostly just of acceleration, not top speed running. My thoughts…

In training for a sport, what we need to do is improve specific physical abilities that enhance sport performance. Strength, flexibility, movement mechanics, these are examples of important things to target in training. When it comes to sprinting for a non-track athlete, the goal is to increase explosiveness at a high speed and develop the coveted lightness on the feet that sprinters have. Those qualities come from top-speed sprinting. That’s why track athletes have those qualities and most team sport athletes do not. In order to get the physical ability you do not have, you have to do the things you have not done. If you’re a football or basketball player and want to benefit from sprinting, you gotta spend some time at top speed. If you just do the acceleration, you’re doing the same thing you’ve done in your sport for years. How will that help you? The fact that a basketball player does not have to run 100m in a game is not a reason not to do it in training. It’s the exact reason that it SHOULD be done in training.

This leads into my opinion that the whole concept of “sport-specific training” is stupid. If you already do something in your sport, why would you do it in training too? If you’re going to try to replicate your sport in training, just go play your sport. You can’t get any more sport-specific than that. The whole point of training is to gain abilities that your sport does not give you. That means you have to do things that are not included in your sport.

Just to finish up the sprinting recommendation for team sports, spend some time at top speed, but still follow the principle of training at a high intensity without fatigue. 30-100m at top speed is good. You can do a hard acceleration into that or just build speed gradually into it. TAKE CAUTION with using top speed sprinting. You need decent strength levels and decent sprint mechanics to reduce the risk of injury.