Poor Mans Sprint Training or, Feeding the Cats When You Have No Money

Jul 25, 2022

One question that has come up a lot is “what do I do if I cant afford an electronic timer”. With the ArenaGate at under $600, I hope you will prioritize and, get a timer. However, we also have to be realistic and, realize that some programs just don't have the money.

A bad alternative is to hand time kids, it's just not very accurate and if you are doing Fly 10's the error margin is huge. ( Fly 10's take less than 2 sec on average so the error is probably double that of a 40)

Errors create all kinds of unrealistic expectations. If you are too quick on the watch, an athlete may never get a personal record again. Too slow and the kids get discouraged that they aren't improving.

Although I really hate races, I may have a better solution than hand timing. Remember, this idea is less than ideal and may not be as injury free as using the timer. Why injury free? When kids compete against each other we add a variable (an opponent) that may cause some players to effectively try too hard and, potentially pull a muscle. Losing to the clock does not have the same stigma as losing to your best friend or your worst enemy so there is less of a sympathetic/ fight or flight response. I would strongly prefer athletes run against the clock but, sometimes you need to bend the rules.

However, if we have to eventually race, here's the “Feed the Poor Cats” Program

Weeks 1-3 players will sprint 15 yards twice per week, 3 times each ( 6 sprints total) Remember this is non-competitive for the first three weeks. No winners, no losers. Just three sprints a day done after a good dynamic warm-up. I like to cue “push, push, push” to get athletes used to pushing the ground hard.

In weeks 4-6 you would then set up 15 yd 1 v 1 races. (If this is lacrosse no sticks, if it's soccer, no chasing balls etc.). Make it all about winning the race. Try to create good pairs for competitive races. This will elicit 100% effort. Remember, only twice per week for a total of six . ( this will now cover the first six weeks).

Weeks 7-9 Players will progress to 20 yd races. Still 3 sprints per day, two days a week.

Weeks 10-12  Progress to 25 yards. 


As a coach you may think that this is not enough. Trust me, six maximal efforts a week is a lot. You will also notice practice speed will increase. Remind yourself that this is not the only running they do but, it is maximal.

Remember, no improvisation, no skipped steps. Skipping steps is the way kids get hurt.

PS- make sure to perform a good dynamic warm-up prior to sprints. We follow our roll, stretch, dynamic warmup process on every sprint day. We also do plyos and med balls before sprints. Both serve as additional warm-up. 

Laslty, remember. Never sprint sore. In almost every case, a player who sustains an injury (no matter how minor) during a sprint workout says afterwards “ I felt a little something on the first one but, kept going”.