Archive for “Acceleration” Tag

Acceleration Mechanics – Jim Kielbaso

Acceleration mechanics are incredibly important to address with athletes who need to improve their speed.  This is a “behind-the-scenes” video of Jim Kielbaso teaching acceleration mechanics to a group of athletes preparing for the NFL Combine.

Jim has done other videos and written articles on acceleration mechanics, but rather than just talking about it, this video shows him actually teaching athletes so you get to see exactly how he explains things.

Some of the main points covered in this video include what Jim calls the Power Position, stride length, body lean, knee drive, head position and an explanation about WHY all of these things will increase an athlete’s speed.

Being able to teach these concepts in a cohesive way is important for any coach responsible for speed and agility training with athletes.  While this video shows how acceleration mechanics are explained to experienced athletes, the same mechanics also need to be addressed with younger athletes using different language and teaching cues.

Of course, you don’t have to use the same exact language and cues in your teaching, but this video will give you plenty of ideas for how you can teach your own athletes about acceleration mechanics.  Take the words and video demonstrations that Jim uses in the video and create your own system of teaching athletes this important concept.

We also encourage you to share this video with other coaches and even use it when teaching athletes.

The IYCA Certified Speed & Agility Specialist course and certification go into depth on acceleration mechanics, top end speed, agility mechanics & drills, programming for speed, and programming for different ages.  It includes 69 videos, several done-for-you programs and a 249-page manual that is the most comprehensive written material on speed development in the industry.

Click on the image below to learn more about the IYCA CSAS

acceleration mechanics from the IYCA

Acceleration Correlates Highly to On-field Performance

In the late 90’s, the strength coaches at the University of Nebraska did some internal research to determine which physical tests had the highest correlation to the ability to play the game of football.  They put their athletes through a large battery of tests including the 40-yard dash, pro-agility shuttle, vertical jump, several strength tests and numerous other drills.

Next, they had the football coaches rate each player’s on-field ability.  They wanted to find out which athletes were the most effective on the field.

They ran a statistical analysis on all of the data figure out which tests had the highest correlation to on-field success.

They figured that, if any of the tests correlated highly to on-field success, they would be able to create programs to improve those tests.

The test that had the highest correlation to on-field ability was the 10-yard sprint.   In other words, the ability to accelerate allows an athlete to perform at a higher level on the field.acceleration

I’d be willing to bet that the ability to accelerate also has a high correlation to the ability to many sports.  Soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, track sprints, etc. are all heavily dependent on an athlete’s ability to accelerate over and over again.

The ability to cover ground faster than an opponent will put an athlete in position to make plays throughout a game, and having just one step on that opponent can be the difference between making a play or not.

So, when you’re training athletes, keep in mind what’s important, and be sure to spend plenty of time addressing the ability to accelerate.

To truly improve acceleration, mechanics MUST be addressed early and often.  The athlete must learn how to produce horizontal force, and this doesn’t always feel natural.  It also requires a lot of rest between sets in order to maintain a high level of intensity.  Acceleration work should occur relatively early in a workout, and you should stick to distances under 20 yards.

The volume of work doesn’t necessarily need to be high, but this needs to be worked on frequently in order for the nervous system to retain changes in mechanics.

A sample workout may look like this:

  • Warm-up
  • Acceleration instruction
  • 5 x 10-yard sprints
  • 5 x 10-yard sprints with a weighted sled at 15% of body-weight
  • 2 x 10-yard sprints (contrast training)
  • 2 x 20-yard sprints

This could be done in 20 minutes, leaving plenty of time to work on other things like conditioning, agility or strength development.

It is recommended to work on acceleration 2-4 days/week, and it can even be inserted into your warm-up routine.  It doesn’t have to be lumped together like the sample program above.  You can insert a few short sprints into a warm-up routine that is done every day.

I realize that this is just scratching the surface on acceleration training, but it is covered in much greater depth in the Ultimate Speed Mechanics materials.  I will be bringing you more tips and videos on how to help your athletes accelerate with maximum power and speed, so stay tuned.

Jim Kielbaso

ultimate-speed-mechanics

 

Incorporating Acceleration Training for Athletes into Every Workout

Simple Warm-Up Provides Acceleration Training for Athletes

Developing proper acceleration mechanics in young athletes is essential to improving their performance. So acceleration training for athletes is important to train whenever possible. This skill should be considered no less important than learning a proper squat, jumping and landing technique, and multi-directional movement skills.

The High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist (HSSCS) typically has limited time to spend with the athletes under his or her charge. Therefore, they must take advantage of every opportunity to coach this skill.

Many times, acceleration training for athletes is neglected by placing too much emphasis on peak speed and high-speed mechanics. While being able to hit and maintain high top-end speed can be a positive quality for an athlete, very rarely does an athlete hit and maintain top-end speed during play.

As a result, being able to accelerate properly (often out of a change of direction) can be much more beneficial to the athlete’s performance.

One of the most effective ways to incorporate acceleration training for athletes into programming is to build it into the warm-up. Here is an example of how to incorporate acceleration mechanics into the warm-up:

1. Movement Prep

Cradle walks and other movement prep is crucial for incorporating acceleration training for athletes5-10 yards of the following:

– Stiff legged leg march
– Single leg walking dead lift
– Leg cradle
– Walking quadriceps stretch
– Elbow to instep
– Backward lunge to twist
– Knee hug to a lunge

2. Linear Progressions

Measure out 40 yards with a cone at the 10, 20, 30, and 40-yard marks. If space is limited you can shorten the distance or use a gymnasium. The only consistency needs to be 4 equal-distance phases. Perform the following:

– Linear march 0-10 yard mark
– Linear skips (A-Skips) 10-20 yard mark
– High knee trot 20-30 yard mark
– Accelerate through the 40

3. Linear Buildups

Acceleration training for athletes can take place outdoorsMeasure out 40 yards with a cone at the 10, 20, 30 and 40-yard mark. Perform the following:

– High knee trot 0-10 yard mark
– Accelerate “1st gear” 10-20 yard mark
– Accelerate “2nd gear” 20-30 yard mark
– Accelerate “full speed” through the 40

The amount of time spent on this will be determined by how much time is available in the workout. If time is limited, the athlete should perform only a single set of progressions and build-ups. Often, if acceleration is the focus of the workout or if more time is needed working on the skill, it is typical to perform four sets of each.

With proper setup and instruction, the warm-up can be narrowed to 10-15 minutes from onset. After this, the athlete may transition into a strength workout or continue into more linear training like resisted starts, sled sprints, or wall drills.

To get the most out of this warm-up, we suggest teaching it to the sports coaches and explaining to them the benefits of this warm-up prior to practice. You can also incorporate some of these drills into a full pre-game warm-up and add in some multi-directional specific warm-ups.

Like most skills, acceleration training for athletes requires repetition to build proficiency. With practice and in combination with an appropriate strength program, any athlete can learn to improve their acceleration, and the entire team will enjoy improved performance!

Josh Ortegon


About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.


Want to Develop Speed and Agility in Your Athletes?

If you want to develop speed in your young athletes there is no better resource than the 15 Free Agility Drills. Learn Jim Kielbaso’s secrets to improving your athlete’s coordination, balance and speed.

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Speed & Agility Training to Improve Sport Performance

speed

Speed and Agility Training To Improve Sports Performance

by Todd Durkin

Speed kills. Speed and agility training in sport gives an athlete an edge on his/her competition. And the great news is that it can all be learned through technique training, proper drills, and hard work. If you’re wanting and willing to get faster, let’s dive (or sprint!) into the action.

In this article, you will learn all about improving your speed and agility training. You will learn about stride rate, stride length, and proper running mechanics. You will learn several different speed improvement training drills, exercises, and programs that will enable you to reach new levels in your sport.

And you will learn:

  • Best strength exercises for speed development
  • Top technique tips for speed performance
  • Power and plyometrics to develop fast-twitch muscle fiber
  • Nutrition for optimal fueling
  • Top recovery strategies

So don’t be left in the dust. Dive into the article and find out all the in’s and out’s of improving your speed and agility.

SPEED TRAINING

Speed and Agility Training

First off, let’s understand speed training and its components. Here are the phases of Speed Training:

  • Dynamic Warm-Up (see below; not really a phase of speed training but essential to include prior to speed training)
  • Mechanics
  • Acceleration (reaching maximum speed in the shortest amount of time possible)
  • Top-End Speed
  • Deceleration
  • Change of Direction (Agility & Quickness)

As we talk about speed training, it is necessary to understand the following principles:

  • “Stride Frequency”: The number of strides taken in a given amount of time or distance. This is improved via technique drills, cycling, towing, sprinting and bungee work.
  • “Stride Length”: The distance covered from one stride when sprinting.  Strength and flexibility are the most important factors to improve stride length.

All great speed and agility training programs should be preceded by a great General Warm-up and Dynamic Warm-up. A general warm-up is 5-10 minutes of exercise to begin elevating core tissue temperature, increase heart rate, and prepare the body for a workout or competition. Examples will include running, treadmill, jumping rope, elliptical, or bike.

One would then proceed into the Dynamic Warm-Up

Speed and Agility Training Dynamic Warm-Up:

Should be performed before every workout, practice or competition, and should take approximately 5-25 minutes.

The purpose of the Dynamic Warm-Up is to: Increase tissue temperature, improve flexibility, activate the nervous system, and help coordination and develop body awareness. It also lengthens fascia.

What is Fascia? Fascia is a specialized system of the body (connective tissue) which plays an important role in the support of our bodies. Fascia is a very dense connective tissue which envelops every muscle, bone, nerve, artery, and vein as well as our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. When fascia becomes constricted, it becomes tight, creates great pressure on its structures and becomes a great source of tension to the body. 

The methods utilized to perform a dynamic warm-up are:

Movement in Space: (10-20 yards)

  • High knees
  • Butt-kicks
  • Cariocas
  • Exagerated Cariocas
  • A-Skips
  • B-Skips
  • Frankenstein Walks (& skips)
  • Lunge with rotation
  • Reverse lunge with reach over top
  • Side-lunges

Stationary:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Gate swings
  • Pogo hops
  • Seal jacks
  • Arm circles
  • Trunk rotations
  • Cats & Dogs
  • Downard Dog
  • Scorpion Kicks
  • 1 Legged Windshield wipers
  • Bodyweight Squats

Perform each movement approx. 10-20 seconds.

Before a workout or competition, the emphasis is on a dynamic warm-up.

After a workout, the emphasis should be on static stretching and myofascial release.

Speed and Agility Training Flexibility:

Speed and Agility Training

Every time after you workout, practice or compete, there should be stretching that involves holding each stretch 20 seconds to 1 minute,  and it should take 10 minutes minimally. Using a stretch rope, you should concentrate on your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves, trunk and opening the chest and shoulders. The methods utilized to stretch are rope chest stretch, standing rotator cuff stretch, kneeling hip flexor stretch, cats & dogs, downward dog, lying rope hamstring stretch, lying rope lower back stretch, lying rope groin stretch, side-lying rope quad stretch, walking soldiers. Foam rolling (ie. The Grid or a foam roller) & a massage stick are essential to do on your own to promote fascia lengthening and recovery. This can be performed both before and after the workout.

When assessing speed, one of the most critical aspects is acceleration. Acceleration is defined as the ability and time it takes for the body to reach Top End Speed. 

Mechanics and technique for acceleration include:

  • Foot Contact behind hip
  • Body angle at 45 degrees/Straight line from heel to neck
  • Chin to chest
  • Head down

Some of the best technique acceleration drills include:

  • Marches along wall
  • Wall Runs
  • 3, 5, 7, 9 step wall sprints

STRENGTH, SPEED & ACCELERATION

Speed and Agility Training

A huge part of speed and agility training is acceleration, it is important to train and strengthen the posterior chain of the body—glutes, hamstrings, lower back, mid-back, and even the calves & feet. Some of the most effective methods and strength exercises to improve acceleration include:

  • Sled Drags & Sled Pulls
  • Resisted Towing
  • Tire Flips
  • Plate Pushes
  • Keiser Air Runner
  • Bullet Belt
  • Super Band Leap Frogs
  • Form running in place & move out
  • Legged Romanian Deadlifts
  • Calf Raises (Double & Single Leg)
  • Swiss Ball Leg Curls
  • TRX Hip Extensions/Bicycles, Leg Curls
  • Hyperextensions (Glute/Ham)
  • Barefoot Balance Touches (on airex pad)
  • Planks
  • Pullups

Once one achieves top-end speed (T.E.S.), the mechanics then change. Now, technique is a bit different:

  • Foot Contact now under hip
  • Body is upright
  • Upper body relaxed
  • Arms swinging 90-120 degrees from waist to chin; drive elbows back!
  • T.E.S. typically reached at approximately 20-30 yards on a linear sprint

Some drills to reinforce Top End Speed Mechanics/Technique Drills include:

  • Arm swing drills
  • Fast Claw Drill
  • Marches
  • Skipping

Some of the best exercises and methods to improve acceleration and T.E.S. include:

  • Uphill running
  • Stadium Steps
  • Resisted Speed Drills (bungees)
  • Assisted Over-speed training with bungee
  • High speed treadmill

Best Strength Exercises to Improve Overall Speed (& acceleration):

  • Squats (2 legged & 1 legged)
  • Step-ups
  • Lunges (variations)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Plate Pushes
  • Sled Drags
  • Plyometrics (squat jumps, lunge hops, Box jumps, leap frogs, vertimax, etc.)
  • Olympic Lifts (snatch, clean & jerk, clean, power shrugs) (power development)
  • Core Conditioning (ie. hyperextensions, Glute/Ham Raise, Russian twists, Bosu Core, med ball standing twists, med ball standing windmills, med ball seated sidewinders, med ball side-tosses into wall, med ball throws (straight up), etc…
  • Pullups
  • Weighted arm swings

3 Tips for Speed Performance: (credit to Patrick Beith)

Tip 1 – Drive Phase – Don’t force yourself to “stay low”

Speed and Agility Training

The drive phase happens right after you react to the starting gun. Your initial 8 -10 steps is considered your drive phase. The biggest problem seen with athletes in the drive phase is that athletes are ‘trying’ to stay too low. Keep the body angle at about 45 degrees and keep the heel of the recovery leg low to the ground during the first 8 strides. Drive the foot into the ground and explode powerfully backwards to create maximum ground reaction force. Drive your elbows backwards and keep your head down. You should be in a straight line from your heels to your head.

Tip 2 – Acceleration Phase
In this phase, you want to think “powerful.” Since the acceleration phase (0-30 yards) is associated with a higher stride frequency then at maximum speed, focus on leg drive. You want to keep the feet behind your center of mass so that you can maximize leg drive.  “Head down and drive.”

Tip 3 – Relaxation 
One of the most challenging things to do is to stay relaxed while sprinting full speed. I often look at my athlete’s cheeks to see if they are running with “puppy dog” cheeks. If an athlete is too tense, their jaw will be tight and they will be tensing their entire body.

If you see an athlete with a tight face, eyes squinting, teeth clenched, elevated shoulders, and tight fists, they are actually slowing themselves down. You have to let your muscles work for you and not against to maximize your speed potential. This is a tough concept to learn and MUST be practiced if you want get the most out of our speed.

Relax and let your speed come to you!

There is an often forgot about third component to speed and agility training – and it is quickness. Let’s look at the difference.

Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change directions as quickly as possible in the shortest amount of time possible

  • Closely related to balance
  • Should be able to move forward, backwards, left, & right all very well

Quickness is the ability to react to a stimulus in the environment in the shortest amount of time possible (a whistle, clap, defender, etc.)

  • Closely related to reaction time
  • Could be foot quickness or hand-eye quickness

Factors affecting Agility & Quickness:

  • Ground Reaction Forces
  • Reaction Time
  • Acceleration & Deceleration
  • Starting quickness (1st step quickness)
  • Cutting
  • Cross-over ability

Drills/Methodologies to Influence Agility & Quickness:

  • Line Drills—runs back & forth, jumping jack feet, front hops, side hops, Ali shuffles, 1-legged lateral hops, 1-legged front hops
  • 5 dot drill
  • Mirror Drill
  • Tag Drill
  • Cone Drills (cone circles, box drill)
  • Bag Drills (shuffles, figure 8’s, shuffle & figure 8’s)
  • Agility Ladder drills (1 foot in each rung, sideways 2 feet in each rung, Ali shuffles, Icky Shuffles, NFL crossover drills)
  • BOSU foot Quickness Drills
  • Deceleration Drills
    • Sprint & stop
    • Sprint & stop and repeat
  • Super Band overspeed/resisted speed drills (running forward & backward or left & right with Super Band; works acceleration & deceleration)

* Incorporate hand-eye coordination into any of these drills for additional quickness/reaction time.

To include hand-eye coordination and reaction time, you can include drills such as:

  • Reaction ball drills (drops, rolls, into rebounder)
  • Card Catch drills
  • BOLA catches

Furthermore, if you are needing to increase your agility and quickness, you can use the same aforementioned exercises to improve your speed. Due to the fact that agility often is lateral quickness or involves cutting, it is imperative that the groins & hips are adequately worked also. The following exercises will augment the strength exercises found in the speed & acceleration section:

  • Diagonal Lunges
  • Slide Board
  • Lateral Band Walks
  • Side Lunges
  • Dirty Dogs
  • Horse-Back Riding

POWER for Speed and Agility Training

If an athlete really wants to reach full potential, they must be able to convert their strength into power. Power is defined as the ability of the neuro-muscular system to create a force rapidly. In its simplest term, power = strength + speed

  • Strength– the maximal amount of force a muscle can generate under a given set of conditions
  • Speed– the ability to move from one point to another point as fast as possible

Methodologies to improve power:

  • Olympic lifting
  • Plyometrics
  • Strength training with speed component

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to concentrate on plyometrics to improve power (along with strength). Plyometrics is a system of hopping, skipping, jumping, or running that works on developing explosive power and maximally recruiting fast-twitch muscle fiber by eccentrically loading a muscle and quickly producing a concentric force. Plyometrics are exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. The faster the eccentric movement (the loading phase), the more stored elastic energy will be released, resulting in a more explosive jump.

Benefits of plyometrics:

  • Improves power & elasticity
  • Trains the nervous system
  • Improves anaerobic conditioning
  • Transformation of muscle strength into power
  • Recruitment of most motor units and their corresponding muscle fibers
  • Develops fast twitch muscle fiber!!!

Rules of plyometrics:

  • Perform on soft surface
  • Do early in your routine
  • Land softly
  • Have adequate strength base before introducing advanced levels of plyometrics (approx. 10 weeks of resistance training)
  • No pain should be experienced in joints
  • Be attentive to form & technique
  • Be sure to stretch & work on strength & flexibility when using plyometrics as part of program
  • Use a 1:3 work/rest ratio for most plyometric exercises
  • Can be performed in many ways:
    • immediately after dynamic warm-up
    • Infuse it during your workout and perform immediately after a strength exercise (complex training)
    • Can be performed on speed days also performed as separate sessions

3 Basic Categories of Lower Body Plyometric Exercises:

  • Jumping—taking off on one or two feet; landing on 2 feet (jumping jacks, leap frogs)
  • Hopping—taking off on one foot and landing on same foot (single leg hopping over line)
  • Bounding—taking off on one foot and landing on other foot (alternate leg bounds)

3 Stages of Plyometric Program Design:

Off-Season (General Conditioning)—2 to 3 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Pre-Season (Sport Specific)—2 to 3 times per week; 100-150 foot contacts

In-Season (Sport Specific Maintenance)—1 to 2 times per week; 80-100 foot contacts

Speed and Agility Training

3 Levels of Plyometrics

Beginning

  • Jumping Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Line jumps & hops
  • Squat jumps
  • Tuck jumps
  • Skater plyos
  • Overhead Medicine Ball Tosses
  • Med Ball Chest Passes
  • Plyo Pushups on floor
  • Medicine Ball rotational ab twists into wall

 Moderate

  • Box jumps
  • Lateral box jumps
  • 1 legged jumps (front & lateral)
  • Supine medicine ball push presses (to partner)
  • 1-legged lateral bounds
  • Plyo situps
  • Med ball throws into ground (with twist)
  • Explosive pushups onto 2 steppers
  • Explosive pushups onto 1 stepper
  • Med ball push press to partner into plyo pushup & repeat
  • Abdominal leg throws
  • Med ball overhead tosses, sprint, and retrieve

Advanced

  • Depth Jumps
  • Depth Jump with multiple repeats
  • Single leg triple jumps
  • Smith Machine Bench Press Throws to partner
  • Add another exercise to upper & lower body
  • Keiser Air Runner or double leap frongs
  • Increase height of box
  • Incorporate single leg movements
  • Use weighted vests

Recovery for Speed and Agility Training

With all this focus on proper training to improve overall athleticism, it is necessary to  address one critical aspect to an athlete receiving maximum benefits from their training. It is called RECOVERY & REGENERATION. The following components play a critical role in determining how quickly an athlete can recover. The quicker the athlete can recover, the quicker they can train or perform again. Let’s take a look at a couple key components of recovery:

1) Nutrition is step one

  • Protein is step one; we want to increase protein synthesis. One should consume approximately 1 g per lb. of body weight.
  • A protein and carb drink promotes glycogen recovery faster than a carb drink alone following a workout. This helps stimulate protein synthesis.
  • Good nutrition controls insulin, glucagon, leptin, and other very important hormones.

insulin—stores nutrients into cells
leptin—follows insulin & caloric intake/deposition
glucagon—releases fat
Nutrient Timing does play a role in overall nutrition

2) Flexibility (see beginning of article)

  • Static Stretching
  • Yoga

3) Foam Roller or Massage Stick (Self-Myofascial Release)

4) Bodywork (massage, Rolfing, Optimal Performance Bodywork, etc.)

5) Infrared Saunas

6) SupplementationSpeed and Agility Training

  • Fish oils & Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM
  • Multi-vitamin & mineral Complex
  • B12

7) Sleep

During sleep, the production of growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1 are at their peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the healing of tissues throughout the body. Testosterone and IGF-1 are anabolic hormones that are important in muscle growth and assist in recovery also. It is recommended that you get at least 8 hours of sleep when trying to optimize hormone-release and recovery.

Now that you have the tools, it’s time to implement the game-plan and begin working towards improving performance and designing a great speed and agility program. If you combine training hard, the correct methodologies, along with ample recovery & regeneration techniques, it is then that you can maximize your strength, speed, and power development. GO GET IT!!!


What to learn how to teach speed mechanics like the pros?

Check out Ultimate Speed Mechanics

 


 

About the Author

Todd Durkin is an internationally-recognized strength and conditioning coach who works with numerous NFL, MLB, and NBA athletes. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, and the author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. For more information, visit www.ToddDurkin.com or follow him on Twitter at @ToddDurkin. 

Using Weighted Sleds for Acceleration Work

 

Using Weighted Sleds With Young Athletes

 

young athlete acceleration training

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

There are plenty of toys out there designed for speed development, but one of the most effective and easiest to use is a weighted sled. The research on resisted sprinting using these sleds is way behind the actual use of the device, but that’s usually how it goes. More recent information has shown that proper use of these sleds can have a positive effect on a young athletes ability to accelerate – one of the most important aspects of speed in many sports.

 

Most of the early research on resisted sprinting was focused on kinematics. They wanted to see if using a sled would change sprinting mechanics significantly enough to cause problems. Through experimentation of different loads, it turns out that using a relatively low weight (8-20% of bodyweight) will not have a significantly negative impact on mechanics.

 

The old research also focused on maximal velocity running instead of acceleration. The conclusions drawn from this research showed that resisted sprinting at maximal velocity (top speed) did not have a positive training effect and could actually have a slightly detrimental effect. Most of this was seen because the resistance caused longer ground contact times at top speed. The studies showed that maximal velocity training with no resistance may be better than using resistance.

 

A more recent study by Harrison and Bourke out of Limerick, Ireland showed that training with the weighted sled significantly improved scores on the time to 5 meters test. The study had subjects perform two resisted sprinting sessions per week for six weeks, using 13% of their bodyweight as the load. This load was based on an earlier study by Lockie et al that recommended using 12.6-13% of bodyweight. All subjects had experience with resisted sprinting and all were competitive rugby players. They weren’t using untrained individuals, making this much more useful information for sports performance coaches.

 

After warming up, subjects performed six 20-meter sprints with 4 minutes of rest between bouts. They did this twice a week for 6 weeks and had significantly positive results on their ability to accelerate.

 

This study, along with the experience of many coaches, provides evidence that use of a weighted sled may be beneficial for improving an athlete’s ability to accelerate. Of course, one of the keys to this kind of training is adequate coaching in the mechanics involved in accelerating. When training young athletes we often see them trying to accelerate without a proper forward lean or taking small, lower-power steps. The sled can be a helpful tool in the learning/coaching process because it can help an athlete get into a steeper forward lean without falling. It can also help an athlete alter his/her turnover slightly in favor of producing as much power as possible on the first 2-8 steps of a sprint.

 

An extremely important aspect of acceleration training with young athletes is the use of proper mechanics. Without quality instruction and the plenty of reps with optimal mechanics, the use of weighted sleds or any other type of acceleration training will be marginalized. A qualified youth coach who can analyze the young athletes movements and utilize individualized cues and feedback to improve mechanics is absolutely essential to this process. Lower-quality instruction will yield lower-quality results no matter what kind of apparatus, toy or method is used.

 

Knee drive is another important aspect of acceleration, and information from another study by Alcaraz et al suggests that a weighted sled may help athletes exaggerate knee drive. This could be a result of having to pull extra weight or the additional forward lean they observed. Either way, it’s a good thing and can benefit athletes who want to increase their acceleration performance.

 

Based on the scientific evidence and years of coaching experience, use of a weighted sled for improving acceleration performance is recommended as long as adequate coaching is available so mechanics are optimized during the process. I recommend focusing your efforts on the first 5-10 yards of a sprint since this is where the most benefit is seen.

 

We’re still kind of guessing in regards to the optimal load used, but you certainly want to keep it fairly low for most people. The research does not take into account the abilities of each of the young athletes, so a more powerful athlete may be able to use higher loads than 13% of bodyweight and still reap the benefits. Since the research suggests that resisted sprinting somehow strengthens the musculature at high velocities, using the heaviest weight possible without a negative effect on mechanics or joint rotational velocities seems to be the goal.

 

I also highly encourage the use of contrast training when using a sled. First, do a few reps without a sled, then perform 5-10 reps with the sled. Be sure to always perform 2-4 more reps without the sled to give the athlete the opportunity to “feel” the difference and allow the nervous system to adapt. This could simply be a trick, but it has been suggested that this kind of contrast training can actually get the nervous system to “up-regulate” with consistent training over time. When using resistance, the body is forced to fire harder on each step. Over time, using contrast training, the athlete’s nervous system may learn to fire harder all the time, not just directly after use of the weighted sled. This is still a theory, but the recent research suggests it may be exactly what is occurring.

 

Other professionals, including well-respected trainer Mike Boyle, use weighted sleds with much higher loads as more of a movement-specific strength training exercise. You can load the sled up and have athletes “march” forward, driving the knees upward, pushing backward as hard as possible and getting into a steep forward-lean position. There is no real scientific evidence that this works, but the principle of specificity would suggest that this could be a good way to add strength when the goal is to improve acceleration speed.

 

There seems to be enough evidence that a weighted sled works to warrant its use when training for improvements in acceleration speed.
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Because there is limited research available, we’re still searching for the optimal training volume and loads for young athletes, but some guidelines are being created through the literature and experience.

 

·2-3 days/week

 

·8-20% bodyweight as the load

 

·4-10 short-distance sprints (5-20 yards) per workout

 

·Relatively long rest periods between bouts (1 – 4 minutes)

 

·Utilize contrast training

 

·Possibly use the sled as a strength training exercise

 

Try using a weighted sled with your young athletes, and be sure to focus on mechanics.

 

While it is just one tool in a trainer’s toolbox, it does seem to have merit. As long as the athlete is giving high effort, using appropriate loads and practicing proper mechanics, you should enjoy the results of faster acceleration after a period of training.

 

Jim Kielbaso acceleration Training program for young athletes

 

Jim Kielbaso

 

Is Your Training Program Complete?

 

 

by Wil Fleming

 

The other day a track coach that I really respect called me to discuss an athlete that we both work with and right away I knew he was excited. I could hear in his voice that he was just fired up. I asked him what was going on and he responded,
"Coach Flem I have to tell you the coolest thing, Anthony has gotten 3 feet faster just training with you this summer and fall. (meaning his long jump approach had to be moved back 3 feet on the same number of approach steps) What kind of speed work have you been doing?"

 

 

Honestly, the answer was very little, outside of some very short acceleration work, this athlete’s focus had been on improving his explosive strength recently.

 

So what’s the point of this story?

 

(more…)

Youth Fitness Training Tug-Of-War?

Youth Fitness Training Sample program from Dr. Kwame Brown

 

Skip Tag 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Cones (and line chalk if you have it) to mark off area
  • Colored pinnies (optional)

 

Instructions

  • Split into teams at opposite corners of the area
  • The first group is “it” (pick a color for them)
  • The second group is to be chased (wearing the other color)
  • Instruct the students that they must skip only
  • If anyone is tagged or caught running, they must do 5 lunges to get back in
  • The game round is over when everyone on Team 2 is tagged.  Roles are reversed

 

Tips

  • Call out “freeze” randomly to keep it unpredictable
  • Make sure that you instruct students on proper touching
  • If the students can’t touch lightly, give them something soft like a balled up t-shirt to tag with

 

Purpose

  • Agility
  • Teamwork
  • Acceleration

 

(more…)

Youth Fitness: Inventory

Youth Fitness: Find out how to get ahead of the competition

 

youth fitness

Okay, the inventory is set and ready to move!

 

And here’s what I’ve got for you:

 

1) Closed-Door: How to Create Profitable & Effective Speed Camps

 

On the Sunday of the 2009 IYCA International Summit, I did a 4-hour closed-door presentation along with Pat Rigsby:

 

:: How to Teach Deceleration & Acceleration (6-Step Sequence)

 

:: How to Prepare Athletes for Speed Combine Camps

 

:: How to Create Programs that Are Effective in 1, 2 or 7 Day Speed Camps

 

:: How to Write & Send Press Releases So You Get in the Paper & on TV

 

:: How to Create Free Community Events that Lead to BIG BUCKS

 

This seminar was wildly successful and became an international smash hit.  Not just because of what I taught about effective Speed & Agility Training, but because I revealed my own formula for creating weekend Speed Camps that routinely generated as much as $10,000!!

 

—> Click Here Right Now for 83% Savings

 

(more…)

IYCA Tip of the Week

 

Young Athletes and speed training

Maybe this is something you don’t need to hear.

 

But then again, maybe it’s something you really need to hear.

 

I say that because we all ‘seem’ to know it, but then whenever I
have a conversation with a Coach or Trainer about the topic,
I see the same mistakes being made over and over again.

 

So here it is bluntly –

 

Speed Training should not produce fatigue in your young athletes.

 

Again, it’s a ‘fact’ that every Coach and Trainer seems to
understand from a theoretical perspective, but seldom implements
properly in a practical setting.

 

Your work-rest ratios when programming for speed must be set
in such a way that your young athletes are fully recovered before
the next set commences.

 

Anything less than complete recovery means that CNS is not
firing with optimal capacity and you are, in fact, training lactic
acid threshold instead.

 

There are two ways to ensure that your young athletes are
recovered well between sets:

 

1) Make the ‘work’ portion of your speed training days low volume.
Rather than running 100 or 200 meters, work at acceleration in
10 and 20 meter bursts. That limited work output will require a
much smaller window of recovery.

 

2) Script a work-rest relationship of roughly 1:3 in terms of time.
Recovery is largely dependent on the condition of your young
athletes but is also very individually specific. Be wary of this
individual specification and be sure to ‘watch’ your athletes in
between sets for signs of full recovery.

 

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

PS Want to learn more about proven strength and speed training with young athletes
systems for young athletes?

 

http://completeathletedevelopment.com

 

 

The Speed Training Secret

Speed Training Coaching

I received this great question from a reader earlier this week:

 

"Hi Brian. When training young athletes 8 – 12, what are the most important concepts of speed and acceleration to teach or stress?"

 

The answer, my friends, is none of them…

 

… Well not really, anyways.

 

If I were to look solely at speed training and acceleration development with pre-adolescent athletes, my suggestion would be strength. Strength is an often forgotten variable in the speed and power equation and quite a critical component to the matrix of developing young athletes.

 

But the actual answer is deceleration skills.

 

To decelerate well means that you are in a position to re-accelerate effectively.

 

It means that you are likely one of the ‘fastest’ kids on the field (remember – it’s not who runs the fastest… it’s who can change direction quickest and with the most ease).

 

It means that you are likely injury-free (a combination of strength and quality mechanical understanding are the two greatest factors I have seen in terms of reducing the likelihood of knee and ankle injuries).

 

Now when teaching proper deceleration skills, it is critical that you move from Closed to Open Habits.

 

Closed Habits – skills being executed in a static environment.

 

Open Habits – skills that are adaptable to varying conditions and situations.

 

Closed Habits remove the external concerns of adjunct movement, opponents, teammates, speed and objects like a ball or puck.

 

In essence, Closed Habit skills are taught in the beginning stages of learning a given movement or series of movements.

 

For example, with my ‘Principles of Movement’ chapter and DVD in Complete Athlete Development (www.CompleteAthleteDevelopment.com) I show how to teach both linear and lateral deceleration skills starting with repeating the motion from a static environment.

 

Eventually, you move into more advanced variations of learning and mastering these skills, such as repeating them in harmony with a random cueing from a coach or trainer.

 

At this level, the skills are known as Open Habits.

 

It is the progression of learning quality deceleration skills that make young athletes truly ‘fast’, ‘quick’ and ‘agile’.

 

Not the answer you were looking for on speed training, perhaps

 

 

Common Mistakes in Youth Speed Training

The video above is an excerpt from the Youth Speed Training’ DVD in my Complete Athlete Development system.

 

Teaching quality deceleration and acceleration skills from different
angles is the most important place to start with an effective
Youth Speed Training system.

 

Do you have a system for Youth Speed Training?

 

Complete Athlete Development will be off the market very soon, but
the speed training system I outline within it will make all the difference
in the world to the success rates of your young athletes.

 

Heath Croll down in Virginia had this to say –

 

 

“… I realized in an instance that the techniques and progressions he
was showing were going to make my athletes the fastest and most
agile in the game…. I was right!”