Many sports require that you excel in several qualities of physical fitness. Whether you play football, soccer, basketball or tennis, to name just a few, you must possess both speed and quickness. Speed refers to the rate at which you move, while quickness involves changing directions on the fly. A number of specific drills and exercises can improve both of these qualities.
Establish a resistance training program. Although weightlifting is not absolutely necessary to build speed and quickness, it can definitely help. Include compound exercises such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts, lunges and rowing variations. Because speed requires lower-body strength, focus on heavy squat variations including pause squats, jump squats and box squats. Barbell and dumbbell lunges, reverse lunges and rotational lunges can also help to build the quadriceps and glutes, two muscles that are heavily involved in the mechanics of a sprint.
Use plyometrics exercises to build power and explosiveness. Lower-body plyometrics exercises primarily involve jumping. They can greatly improve your reaction time and how much force your legs can generate. Start with tuck jumps and pogo jumps, two low-intensity movements to get your body used to the motion. Move on to box jumps, an exercise that requires you to jump from a stationary position onto a box. Finally, progress to depth jumps, a high-intensity jumping exercise that focuses on reaction time. Start standing on a low box. Drop off the box and immediately explode into a jump as soon as your feet touch the ground.
Practice specific skills by using common drills. You can only take your speed and agility so far without actually practicing both skills. To improve your quickness, use the 5-10-5 drill. Place three cones in a straight line, five yards apart. Beginning at the center cone, run 5 yards to the right cone and touch the ground. From there, move 10 yards to the left cone and touch the ground. Finally, run the last 5 yards back to the center cone and clock your time. To increase speed, practice running short 10- and 20-yard sprints, medium 40-yard sprints and long 100-yard sprints.
Use low repetitions and heavy weight on squats and deadlifts to build both lower-body and back strength.
Use a stopwatch to clock your sprint times. Record these numbers and try your best to beat them.
Progress into the plyometrics slowly to avoid injury.