Wall Drills For Speed (Improve Acceleration Technique)
Wall drills are one of my favorite drills for teaching speed, specifically acceleration technique.
By using a wall, you can focus on lower body angles without the distraction of upper body mechanics (or worry about falling on your face).
Here are 5 Wall Drills, each one progressing into the next, that you can do with nothing more than a wall and a desire to get better.
Let’s get started.
One of the great things about wall drills is that you can work them inside with tennis shoes or outside with cleats. All you need is a sturdy wall (or fence) and you’re good to go.
Starting Body Position
To find a good starting distance away from the wall, sit with your back to the wall, feet straight out in front. Mark where your feet are. This will be where you will place your feet to start each wall drill.
Lean forward to the wall, placing your hands at shoulder height and shoulder width.
For here, fully extend through your ankles, knees and hips. Torso should be straight as well. You should be able to draw a line from your shoulders, straight down through to your hips and finishing at your ankles.
Finally, relax your chin down to your chest. This DOES NOT mean flex your neck and drive your head into chest. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and allow your head to tilt down.
Wall Drills – Singles
Single leg switches on the wall is a very simple, but very effective drill. On it’s surface it’s merely leaning against a wall, lifting one leg up and then switching the up leg.
The devil, as they say, are in the details though.
Start in the starting body position that we talked about earlier, fully extended up onto the toes, legs straight and hips extended, or ‘tucked’ underneath the torso. Back flat (not rounded forward) with arms straight out on the wall and chin relaxed down towards the sternum.
From this position, lift the right leg up, knee towards the chest, heel tucked underneath the hamstring, foot dorsiflexed (toe up).
From here, have a coach, a partner or film yourself with your phone and check your shin angles. Both shin angles should be exactly the same, a roughly 30 degree angle from the floor to the wall.
On command (or when you’re ready if you’re by yourself), simultaneously drive the up leg down and the down leg up. Repeat for 6 to 8 reps. The goal is to be able to aggressively drive the up foot down into the ground in the exact same spot each rep while maintaining great body position and shin angles.
Coaching Point: Make sure to get full extension through the down leg each rep.
Wall Drills – Doubles
Doubles are probably exactly what you think they are. Two leg drives instead of one.
So, let’s say we get into our perfect starting position with the right leg starting off the ground. On the ‘switch command’ drive the right leg down (left leg up) and then immediately drive the left leg back into the ground.
Coaching Point: As you progress from singles to doubles (and then triples), athletes have a tendency of cutting short the knee drive in an attempt to switch feet faster. Make sure to keep emphasizing full knee drives every rep.
Wall Drills – Triples
This is the next progression after doubles. It’s a quick one, two, three – ending with the opposite leg up in the air each rep. I like to equate the triple on the wall with the first three steps of the 40. Those first three drive steps should be quick, aggressive and driving back into the ground behind the hips.
Wall Drills – Rapid Fire
With rapid fire, start in that same starting position on the wall. Then, begin with one triple. Follow that triple with rapid fire reps. After about 10 knee drives – freeze – and then check body position and shin angles.
It takes great focus and technical ability to maintain positions when moving at a rapid fire pace.
Coaching Point: Two of the most common mistakes is, one, the athlete starts moving themselves closer to the wall because they begin driving down instead of back behind the hip.
The second is the athlete begins to flex at the hips too much and this usually also entails rounding the back instead of maintaining a neutral spine. The goal of the drill is to always focus on extension.
Wall Drills – Kneeling Start
For the kneeling start you’ll first need a wall that will support you falling into it. Once you’ve secured a good wall, start with your feet the same distance from the wall as the other wall drills.
Now slide your right foot back, toe aligned with the heel of the opposite foot. (If you’re left handed you’ll most likely want to start with your left foot back)
Once your feet are properly aligned, drop your right knee down straight to the ground. This is essentially the same sequence as you would setup for the 40.
Now, from this position drive out – doesn’t need to be super aggressive, focus more on your positioning – off both legs first and then drive the right leg up and finally catch yourself on the wall.
You should now be in the same starting position as the other wall drills.
After you catch yourself on the wall, pause for a moment to check position and then go straight into a double.
The sequence from start to finish should be – drive, catch, 1, 2.
This progression even more closely mimics a sprint start by allowing the athlete to drive out of a start position, fully extend and then drive back into the ground while maintaining good body position.
Wall drills are some of my favorite speed drills to teach acceleration mechanics and reinforce proper body angles.
I also highly recommend transitioning from wall drills directly into some short sprints so the athlete can apply the proper mechanics they just drilled.
If you’d like even more speed drills check out these speed drills for football (which really can be applied to almost any sport).