By Loren Seagrave, Head of Speed Training, Athletic & Personal Development program
No matter how much sports have changed, one element remains the same – the most powerful and agile players dominate on the field. Here are three exercises to improve your overall speed (check out part 1 with the power exercises here)
Wall Drill – Rapid Fire
Purpose: This drill is designed to teach proper mechanics for linear acceleration. The drill also teaches bilateral integration of simultaneous triple flexion and triple extension.
Stance: The feet are position hip-width apart. Stand facing the wall, a distance equal to the leg length of the athlete. This will allow an approximately 45-degree angle when the athlete places their hands on the wall at shoulder level with arms outstretched. Draw in and brace the abs and get the pelvis to look up (stomach tight, back flat and butt tucked under).
Ready Position: With the hands on wall at shoulder height, fingers pointing upward, punch one knee forward so that the thigh is at a right angle to the body. Simultaneously unlock the knee and flex the ankle joint. Position the body so the pelvis is looking up. An imaginary power line should run from the ankle through the knee, hip and shoulder at 45 degrees to the ground. The shin angle of the flexed leg is almost perpendicular to the ground. Ankle is flexed, so that the sole of foot is facing toward the ground.
Initiation: The action begins by aggressively punching the thigh forward so the thigh flex so the hip reaches 90 degrees. The legs work like scissors, as the thigh extends actively back and the foot lands with the ankle flexed even with the stance position. The sole of the shoe remains facing the ground and the shin angle increases to approximate the ready position angle.
Completion: Rapidly alternate popping the thighs forward for 4 to 6 seconds.
Weighted Sled Charge
Purpose: This drill is designed to facilitate proper linear acceleration mechanics and the player to generate greater power using specific resistance training. By reprogramming the nervous system the player synchronously recruits more muscle fiber during acceleration motor pattern.
Stance: Feet are hip-width apart, pointed straight ahead. Place feet in two point staggered start position. Sled is attached to shoulder harness with appropriate resistance so as not to decrease the time to 20 yards by more than 20 percent.
Ready Position: With tension on the resistance cord, load pressure onto the rear foot by contracting the gluts and hamstrings to apply extension force at the hip joint. Simultaneously bend the front leg knee so that the knee shifts in from of the foot and the shin angle is reduced.
Initiation: Aggressively split the arms with a simultaneous double-foot push, the anterior shin drops toward ground while extending through both hips.
Execution: Pop the rear leg thigh forward, while recovering the foot low to the ground to minimize air time. The ankle is flexed with the sole of the foot facing the ground. Maintain body position and power line. Extend hip then knee actively contacting the ground on the ball of foot underneath hip joint.
Completion: Continue process for desired distance while maintaining proper body position and acceleration mechanics.
Purpose: This drill is designed to teach the athlete how to express a big force in a shorter amount of time. Initially the focus is to improve neuromuscular coordination and then progresses to allow greater power development. The initial space between the first two steps is 18 inches and with an increase in spacing of six inches.
Ready Position: Position the feet hip width apart in two point staggered start position with the front foot just in front of the first rung on the ladder. Load the rear heel, draw in and brace with the abs and have the pelvis looking up.
Initiation: Split the arms and execute a double-foot force application. Forcefully extend the hip joint and project the center of mass past the next rung on the ladder. Simultaneously, pop the thigh forward while recovering the foot low to the ground. The ankle is dorsi-flexed, sole of the foot down, toe under or behind knee.
Execution: Drive the shin actively back, so the ball of the foot lands just in front of the next rung on the ladder. The hips should be projected past the next rung, shin angle is positive.
Completion: Continue to project center of mass past each successive rung on the ladder. Emphasis on thigh pop and hip drive, continue acceleration for 10 yards past the end of the ladder.
Progression: Start a timer with the first foot fall (landing of the rear foot on the ground) and stop the timer four foot contacts later. When the athlete plateaus in their time, move the athlete to start at the next rung and repeat the evaluation process.