Speed is influenced by an athlete’s agility (mobility), fast twitch muscle strength, strength endurance and technique. Being quick and having fast muscles is very different to having strong muscles as you simply will not get faster contracting muscles by training using traditional weight training workouts. Yes you may get stronger by lifting weights but to get faster and more explosive you need to train more explosive. Sprint training drills along with isometric, ballistic and plyometric exercises help develop fast twitch muscle fibers in the body which improve the speed of the athlete for whatever sport they play. Obviously depending on the sport you are training for, the specific movements or variations of exercises will be somewhat different.
There are basically two types of muscle fiber in the body and everyone has a combination of both. Slow twitch muscle fibers are for strength and endurance, so your long distance athletes such as marathon runners have more of these fibers. The other type of fiber is fast twitch fiber which is required for speed, agility and acceleration and sprinters, tennis and baseball players have more of these fibers.
Athletes trying to improve their speed and acceleration need to condition themselves to get more of this fast twitch response which basically means quicker muscle contractions. Techniques need to be rehearsed at slow speeds until they are perfected and then done at higher speeds until you can control the movements at maximum speed. It is important to remember that the improvement or development of speed is a complex process that is controlled by the brain and the body’s nervous system. This basically means that the brain and nervous systems have to learn to control these fast twitch movements efficiently so repetition of quality exercise and training methods is necessary to develop these mechanisms. Some people refer to this as muscle memory.