Hey everyone, so in the previous article I wrote about the different set positions/acceleration phases and what to look out for with in each position. This is important because the athletes ability to produce an optimal performance is based on the acceleration phase. If you get this phase wrong you debilitate the athletes ability to express themselves over 60m/100m/200m and even 400m sprints. In Part 2 I want to look into and discuss how we teach acceleration to our athletes, how we may progress or regress drills to develop the correct and optimal acceleration patterns we are looking to instill in our athletes.
I explain how we currently use different methods to teach acceleration through the progression and regression models that we have. If I slightly rephrase that sentence, how we use different methods to draw out the information from the athlete. As they often know what they need to do but don’t know how access that information. I feel as coaches that is our role. We either teach the methods or show the athlete how they can use what they already know. I would like to add that the drills used and my ideas/thoughts and phillosophys change over time as I learn more and evolve as a coach/teacher/friend.
The Wall Drill:
I like the wall drill because it allows the athlete to feel the correct body position while working on correct heel recovery. The athlete starts with very slow movement to allow for learning and ingrain the correct movement pattern. Once the athlete has it, you can then look to add a switch to the drill, allowing the athlete to add speed to the movement just learnt.
The main difference I see in our drills compared to other coaches, especially on youtube, is that I feel they do this drill standing to upright. Instead, try and keep a low 45 degree angle and drive. If movement is sacrificed then I would recommended regressing to slower movement once again.
The Push Up into acceleration:
The athlete will start in a push up position and then jump up and accelerate away when commanded. I use this to teach athlete how strike back and away from the body and it often get the athlete coming out at great body angles. Once the athlete know what I am looking for in terms of feeling I let them express it in a roll in start. Very useful tool with young athletes as it feels just like a game.
Quadruped stance into acceleration:
I use this as a different variant/progression to the above plank stance with a slightly easier exit. It also adds variety and can make acceleration a little bit less boring and monotonous. Again very useful tool with young athletes as it feels like a game.
Like the quadruped start or push up start I like this drill because it gets the athlete to push away from the body immediately and teaches them good body positions from exit. However it places more emphasis on the front leg and driving/stabilizing that leg when explosively moving/driving the back leg forward.
Jump Back Acceleration:
This drill allows the athlete to “feel” what it is like loading and pushing off the back foot. I find that a lot of athletes have no idea how to pre tense the ankle joint (or load the ankle) in order to explode out of acceleration. I have noticed whenever I use this drill that the recovery leg seems to always come through nice and low. I hardly get a looping foot. Another trick I have learnt is during other drills you can tap the back of athletes ankle in order to cue tension. There is also some nerdy stuff about sub cutaneous reactions but I wont go into that.
This a coned out section where the athlete hits step 10/12-15 steps. We create a box and then allow the athlete to practice that transition in the box. I prefer this method of teaching the transition phase because it is athlete dependent and not distance specific. A 10 year old will cover a different amount of ground compared to a 18 year old. Also some athletes transition slightly sooner and I tend to see stronger athletes transition later. I have to add that we need to always remember that if the phases pre-transition are not good enough then our athletes transitions just aren’t going to look good.
Hill training for Acceleration:
Adjusts the athletes body position, shin angles and strike positions through changing the environment rather than the athletes body. We mostly use this form of training in winter. This allows for an environment in which greater adaptations and improvements in general capacity can occur without the increased injury risk. Lower impact and injury risk based on soft surface(grass), body position and strike positions (gradient of hill) allows us to use greater volumes. I would like to state that hill sessions do not match acceleration mechanics exactly due to the athlete striking ahead of the body a little more than they would otherwise on the track but you can still teach “climbing the ladder” with hills.
The Sled, Prowlers and Band Accelerations:
By pushing or pulling an object like sleds ,prowlers, band accelerations, you allow the athlete to make adjustments in body position, shin angles and strike positions. These tool are great because they allow us to load an athlete specifically to the sport compared to more general loading like say a squat or dead lift. You can also use these tools as a transference exercise and can also be a great teaching tool for positions we want to see during acceleration (will be discussed in a separate article).
The Roll in Start:
The great thing about roll ins are that they allow the athlete to put into practice and express everything they have learnt, while being in a position that they feel comfortable and safe in. Allowing us to solidify skill acquisition. It can also be used as a tool that allows athletes to get more reps in a session if you are working with groups.
The 3 point Start:
I see these as part of a continuum towards block starts. They put athletes into a more sport specific position, similar to that of coming out the blocks. However, I would like to remind you that they are harder than roll ins and if athlete is struggling, either accept it allow them to learn or if you feel that the process is being hindered then regress. The 3 point allows athlete express what they have learnt in a new set up and exit position.
The 4 point Start and Blocks:
Used in competition phase and the most sport specific position for a track athlete. The hardest variation of starts because of the positions that the body and limbs are put in. Not to mention the amount of force that needs to be exerted when accelerating out of them. This means that you wont get as many reps out of blocks as you may get out of roll ins or 3 points and will need to allow for greater recovery between reps.