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
5-10 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
Measure 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!
About the Author: Josh Ortegon
Joshua 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.
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