Jul 2, 2013

Coaching Acceleration in Athletes PART 1

Daniel Guzman BS, CSCS

In my athletic career I have heard plenty of coaches make the following comment: "You can't coach speed. You are either fast or not." While I think these coaches were commenting on god given ability, they couldn't be more wrong. The fact is you CAN coach speed and you CAN coach your athletes to get faster. Otherwise, you are not doing your job as a movement specialist.

Acceleration is a change in velocity. In most cases this is measured from a dead stop to X distance in seconds.

WHY is acceleration important?
Simply put, if you can beat your opponent to the most optimal position, you win.

WHERE does this occur?
Practically this could be a football player getting off the line, a basketball player staying in a good defensive position, a tennis player getting across the court to return a hit, or in the most visible environment a sprinter's first 4-6 steps.

WHAT movements are we looking to coach?

If you can control your spine position while moving, you can put more force into the ground. Look for a neutral spine and head in line with the spine.  The weight room is where you strengthen these positions. Conditioning should be where you condition these positions, not just a time to run your athlete's to "increase their cardio." Every repetition is important.

When your posture is in sync, your lower body needs to create solid angles to produce the highest amount of force into the ground. Bad angles = leaked potential force. Each step we are looking for one leg to be in full triple extension (hip, ankle, knee) and the other to be in hip/knee flexion, and ankle dorsi-flexion.

BAD EXAMPLE                                                                                        GOOD EXAMPLE

I touched on it a bit in the body angle portion, but I believe it holds so much more importance. When teaching acceleration from a 2 point or 3 point stance I almost always see the same thing. A plantar flexed foot that pulls all of the weight on the athletes toes. What we want is a foot that is more dorsiflexed to create a quicker elastic response to the ground and a decreased amount of time to putting force into the ground. It all comes down to eliminating the "unnecessary movements" we don't need.

BAD EXAMPLE                                                                                                   GOOD EXAMPLE

Check in next week for PART 2 for some movement drills to teach acceleration. 

Need guidance on your own journey to better health, fitness, or performance? Contact Daniel directly or head to prevailconditioning.com to set up a free session today!

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