Acceleration Drills for Athletes

Acceleration can be defined as the rate of change of velocity in a movement. In coaching terms, it is how quickly an athlete can increase speed over a short distance (5-10 yds). So how do we get our athletes to be able to develop improved acceleration?

We look at 3 major aspects to broadly focus on and then make smaller more specific changes as we work with athletes.

Angle of the shin/torso

A main component of acceleration is the angle at which you are driving out to accelerate. The optimal angle to be at is around 45 degrees with the shin/torso staying in a straight line.

Often athletes will be too tall during acceleration or have their shin driving too vertically into the ground, as opposed to driving backward.

Hip Projection

Hip projection is key to getting angles of acceleration to be correct. If the hips stay back too far athletes have a difficult time getting full flexion and extension during the drive acceleration phase.

Fast Twitch Ability

The athletes ability to exert force in a short period of time is a neurological adaptation that can be developed over time. By choosing exercises and periodization of training, we can target developing type 2 muscle fibers that are more conducive to powerful quick movements.

To develop these qualities there are multiple acceleration drills that can be implemented in training.

Wall Drill- VIDEO

Wall drill is a great starting point to teach acceleration mechanics. The athlete will lean against a wall with their arms out straight and feet back to achieve a 45 degree angle.

Once set at the proper angles the athlete will work on rapidly driving their knee towards the wall while maintaining the proper posture.

In this drill we can cue proper shin angles, hip projection, hip flexion/extension, proper torso posture, as well as dorsiflexion of the ankle.

Sled March/Sprint- VIDEO

Taking the techniques used during wall drill, sled march is about maintaining proper angles while driving through a given load.

Banded or Resisted Acceleration- VIDEO

With resistance from some sort of implement, whether it is a band or acceleration device with a belt/strap, the athlete will accelerate through resistance over a shorter distance.

The main goal is to get the feeling of the hips driving through the band to accentuate hip projection, as well as to maintain a 45 degree lean as they accelerate.

Partner Chase Acceleration- VIDEO

Partner chase drills are great to drive intent of acceleration by having one athlete start 2-3 yards behind another athlete, with the goal of chasing them down over the course of 10 yards.

This increases motivation to not be caught as well as increases the use of fast twitch muscle fibers in order to get off of the line faster.

Looking for more drills?

We have a whole arsenal of drills in our resources at iyca.org/store – but to properly program and apply the drills we highly recommend our Ultimate Speed Mechanics/Drills or the Certified Speed & Agility Specialist Course.


Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.

He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.

Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

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