Happened to go back through this thread and realized that I missed your comment here. Very well stated.
I’ve always maintained that the drills, and training in general, are a means to an end.
Thus, in my view, it’s critical to always maintain site of the ultimate objective; which in the case of training for speed is speed/sprinting itself.
So in my program, the drills are always performed under the influence of sprint mechanics versus what may or may not feel like the most natural way to perform the drill in a vacuum.
Having said that, and again, I rarely come across an athlete that naturally heel strikes and remember that my athletes are almost always introduced to the drills without shoes on in order to foster, and typically re-familiarize them with, the most natural and efficient possible movement.
Also, having been heavily influenced by Charlie in many ways, his stance on drills resonates strongly within me in that he always maintained that drills are so useful for resolving mechanical sprint issues in that they present the possibility to ‘fix’ a problem without the athlete knowing it. It then stands to reason that in regards to training for speed it is logical to instruct the drills in a fashion that most effectively transfers to the sprints.
Our indoor facility, which we share with the Steelers, is field turf. In addition, we have one outdoor field turf field and another grass field. All three are very well cared for and excellent for shoeless training.
My guys perform all tempo and warm up without shoes on during the off-seasons; however, some opt to keep the shoes on as it’s their choice.
Some even perform linear speed work barefoot; however, most have shoes on for the speed work.
The field turf is great from a pliability standpoint in that, at the most, I may have one guy out of 50 or so that ever deals with shin splints.