Basketball tips - How to harness potential for speed If you're too slow to heat your man, you'll never have a chance to showcase your skills. And for those short on talent, speed can level the playing ﬁeld. But sports speed isn’t just about maximum velocity. It’s also about how fast you can accelerate and decelerate - that is, go from standing still to your top speed, and vice versa. And because every tenth of a second matters, even small improvements can make a major impact on your performance. Use the 36m dash to measure speed and acceleration. You’ll need a partner and a stopwatch. Mark off 36m on a track or grass ﬁeld. Get into a comfortable stance - a four-point sprinter’s stance is typical - and instruct your timer to start the clock as soon as you move. The clock stops when any part of your chest crosses the finish line. 4.49 seconds or less - World class athlete 4.5 to 4.99 seconds - Above average 5.0 seconds or longer - Average Mark a starting line and a ﬁnish line 20m apart. Begin running about 20m behind the starting line and progressively build up speed so you're at top speed as you pass it. Maintain that intensity until you cross the ﬁnish line. Rest for three minutes, then repeat for a total of two to four sets. “This drill reinforces the running mechanics and acceleration you need to switch gears and pick up speed when you’re already in motion,” says trainer Bill Hartman. Do this workout twice a week, resting at least a day after each session. To develop fast starts, try the ball-drop drill from speed coach Tom Shaw. Have a workout partner stand on a hard surface, holding a tennis ball at eye level. Stand about ﬁve metres away in a three-point stance. When he drops the ball, sprint and catch it before it bounces a second time. Have him move back a metre or two and repeat the drill until you can’t get to the ball in time. Biggest gap Shaw’s ever seen closed? Fourteen metres. Abs are critical to speed. Strengthen yours with this sit-up routine: lie on your back and rest your heels on a wall so that your legs are straight and at a 45-degree angle to the ﬂoor; extend your arms straight above your head. Lift your torso and touch your toes, then rotate to the right and touch both hands to the ﬂoor. Now rotate to the left and touch the floor on that side. That's one repetition. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds, rest 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat. Stop when yon can’t match the reps of your previous set. Perform this workout two or three times a week.