The Suicides Exercise Running Drill, Explained + 6 Tips To Do It Right

A common and extremely challenging running drill taken on by runners, basketball players, soccer players, football players, and athletes training for other sports is the suicides exercise or drill.

Running suicides is likely a memory that nearly all of us have from our days participating in youth athletics (or perhaps one we tried to forget, given how challenging a suicides workout could be!).

However, if you are looking to improve your speed, agility, acceleration, power, and speed endurance, the suicides exercise is one of the best running drills you can add to your training routine, whether you are a competitive athlete playing some sport other than running or a long-distance runner looking to improve your speed.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of running suicides and how to do the suicides exercise to maximize your speed and agility on the court, on the field, or on the running course.

We will cover: 

  • What Is the Suicides Exercise Running Drill?
  • Benefits of Running Suicides
  • How to Run Suicides
  • Tips for Running Suicides

Let’s jump in!

A person bending down to touch the line of a football field, performing the suicides exercise.

What Is the Suicides Exercise Running Drill?

Suicides have a grizzly name with a brutal connotation to encapsulate how challenging this running drill can be.

In fact, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, suicides can refer to a type of “grueling running drill”… “Its gruesome name reflects the intensity of the physical effort it requires.”

The suicides exercise or running workout is a high-intensity sprinting drill that involves a set of running as fast as you can to several progressively further lines, then turning around and sprinting back.

For example, basketball players might run suicides on the court, starting at one end of the court and then sprinting to the half-court line, pivoting and turning around as quickly as possible, and sprinting back to the starting line.

Then immediately turning around and sprinting to 3/4 of the way down the court, turning around and sprinting back, and then immediately turning around and sprinting the entire length of the court and back.

A close up of a line on a football field.

Running suicides improves your speed, agility, endurance, and “speed endurance,“ or your ability to maintain your maximum speed for longer.

You will also be challenged from a mental standpoint, as running suicides is undoubtedly extremely challenging and requires you to focus and push yourself when you are tired while also necessitating you to stay in the present movement and react quickly to turn around on a dime and change directions seamlessly.

The suicides exercise running drill can be performed anywhere, from indoors on a court or in the gym to outside on a basketball or tennis court, soccer or football field, driveway, field, running course, etc. 

If you are not performing the running trail on a designated court or field with preestablished painted lines, all you need are a couple of cones, shoes, or other items you can use as markers to designate the different turnaround points for your suicides exercise drill.

A person sprinting on a boardwalk.

Benefits of Running Suicides

As you might imagine, such a high-intensity sprinting drill can provide numerous benefits. The benefits of running suicides include the following:

  • Increasing sprint speed and improving sprinting performance
  • Improving agility and ability to rapidly change directions 
  • Improving neuromuscular coordination and increasing firing rates
  • Testing mental stamina and drive
  • Strengthening the legs
  • Increasing leg speed and foot turnover 
  • Improving cardiovascular endurance
  • Increasing anaerobic fitness 
  • Maximizing acceleration 
  • Improving athletic performance in sports such as basketball, soccer, football, hockey, running, and tennis
A person sprinting.

How to Run Suicides

There are no pre-established distances that you must run for each sprint interval in a set of suicides. The number of sprints, turnaround points, and the distance sprinted for each one will depend on your available space, training level, training goal, and primary sport.

For example, if you are a basketball player, using landmarks on the basketball court makes the most sense but will typically involve sprinting for shorter distances than a soccer or football player might use on their respective outdoor field. 

Soccer and football typically require running further during the game and managing longer breakaway sprints down the field, so it makes sense that the distances for the suicides sprints would be longer.

Here is how to perform the suicide sprinting drill:

A football field.
  • Choose a location such as an indoor or outdoor sports court, field, or grassy area where you can perform the suicides workout.
  • If your chosen area does not already have designated lines or markers on it, set up your markers using cones, towels, frisbees, shoes, or other props. To set up your markers, mark off a starting line, and then place anywhere from 3-8 markers for lines down the field, anywhere from 6-20 meters away for each marker, depending on how far you want to run.
  • Before you start the suicides exercise drill, warm up by jogging for 10-15 minutes and doing some dynamic stretches like leg swings, walking lunges, and butt kicks.
  • When you are warmed up, head to the starting line for your suicide sprints.
  • Start your stopwatch and then sprint at max speed to the first (closest) line. Reach down and touch the line with your hand if it’s painted on the ground, or touch your hand down on the grass or ground where a line would be painted if you have used your own markers.
  • Turn around as quickly as possible and sprint back to the starting line, reaching down and touching the ground at that point.
  • Then, turn back around and face your impending markers. Without stopping to pause, sprint to the second marker. Again, reach down and touch the line before turning around and sprinting back.
  • Continue this pattern until you have sprinted to each successively further line and back, never stopping to pause or to stop the timer.
  • Stop your timer when you have finished sprinting to and from all of the lines in your set. Your first set in your suicides workout is complete.
  • Take a break by either jogging around the court or field for 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Then, complete another round of the entire suicide drill, trying to beat your finish time from the first round.
  • Ideally, build up the total duration of your suicides workout to 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level and sport. Jog for 1 to 3 minutes in between each set as necessary until you feel recovered enough to go at max effort again.
  • After the suicides workout is complete, do a cool down by walking or jogging for 5 to 15 minutes, followed by some stretching.
A person doing leg swings.

Tips for Suicides Workouts

Running suicides is a very challenging, high-intensity workout that requires speed, agility, and focus. Here are some tips for doing suicide sprinting workouts:

#1: Focus On Form

Although the primary focus is on maximizing your sprinting speed, your speed should never be prioritized over sprinting with proper form.

Concentrate on perfecting your sprinting technique and form during every single sprint of every single set of your entire suicides work out.

Keep your core and glutes engaged, pump your arms vigorously to drive your knees upward, land on the balls of your feet and stay light and loose, use a quick turnover and explode powerfully with a strong hip drive to maximize acceleration and speed. 

Keep your chest up and your gaze forward, your shoulders down and away from your ears, and your face and upper body as relaxed as possible.

A group sprinting on a track.

#2: Recruit a Buddy

The suicides running drill is one of the types of sprinting exercises that is often best supported by running with someone else.

Having a “competitor“ to chase after, or who is chasing you, will help you both push yourselves to reach your maximum potential. 

It can be difficult to sprint your hardest when you are by yourself and to maintain the same level of intensity that you might be able to get out of yourself when you are operating in a competitive setting.

See if you can recruit a teammate, friend, or running buddy to take on the suicides drill with you to help you maximize your performance and get the most out of yourself.

#3: Wear the Right Footwear

If you are running suicides on the grass, there can be a tendency or risk of slipping when you make all of the directional changes at each line. Consider wearing cleats or spikes to help you gain traction and reduce the risk of falls. 

Slipping on the grass is not only painful, but it can increase the likelihood of pulling or tearing a muscle or straining a tendon.

When running suicides indoors, make sure that you have supportive shoes with enough traction on the outsoles to prevent slipping on the court.

A person sprinting on a track.

#4: Keep Track Of Your Progress

Particularly if you are performing your suicide workouts on a court or field where you can use the same turnaround points every time you return to the workout, keeping track of your progress by timing yourself for each set is a great way to monitor your improvements in speed, agility, and endurance over time.

#5: Listen to Music

Playing energizing, pump-up music can be a great way to keep your cadence and speed as fast as possible and your energy high throughout the suicide workout.

#6: Listen to Your Body

If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, uncoordinated, or fatigued in a way that might increase the risk of falling or getting injured, you should always stop immediately and prioritize the needs of your body over your determination to finish the workout you set out to do.

You can check out the 100 Up, Carioca, and A-Skips for other running drills. These are much less intense but have other great objectives, such as improving form, and they are a great way to warm up.

A person sprinting on a track.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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