A very common thing heard from our athletes entering the facility (brand new or returning):
- “I want to be faster”
- “How can I improve my first 3 strides/my first 5 yards”
- “I feel a step behind at times”
Acceleration is such a vital piece of the puzzle for so many athletes, and there are many ways that we can improve this skill – specific selection of Strength, Power, Speed, and Technical Drills. But, much of what we do in the gym, or on the field boils down to CAN WE APPLY THOSE ATTRIBUTES TO THE SKILL, and CAN WE APPLY THIS SKILL TO A GAME.
What is ACCELERATING?
Simply put, ACCELERATING is picking up speed from a DEAD STOP. This can be applied to any POWER related movement (sprinting, skating, jumping, etc.) as long as it begins from a dead stop position. Great acceleration is a product of high levels of STRENGTH, POWER, and TECHNIQUE – all of these, and not just one.
If you feel that you are a strong and powerful athlete, but still missing that last step – here are 3 ways you can improve your ACCELERATION TECHNIQUE:
1) Forward Lean
Forward posture helps to overcome INERTIA (what we must act against/overcome to pick up speed) when accelerating. Keeping a strong body alignment and forward lean when picking up speed will help the body COVER MORE DISTANCE SOONER. It will also help the body produce more HORIZONTAL FORCE – have our legs drive down and back, and not just down.
2) Leg and Arm Drive
With each stride from our dead stop, we want to DRIVE our arms and legs forward and back. We DRIVE BACK to create power and forward progress; we DRIVE FORWARD to recover our free leg back underneath us efficiently and set up for another powerful DRIVE BACK.
With LEG DRIVE we look to drive the knee to approximately 90-degree angle (in line with torso, and extended leg), and the toes to a 90-degree angle in relation to the shin, whenever it is in the air. We look to extend the leg fully with each stride as we drive back, whenever the foot is on the ground. Our goal is to MAXIMIZE STRIDE LENGTH with each step.
With ARM DRIVE we move “cheek to cheek” (face and glutes) with each stride. This allows us to maximize movement about the shoulder, and mimic the same level of STRIDE LENGTH we want our legs to generate.
QUICK TIP: Your arms and legs like to work together! If you have BIG ARM DRIVE, your legs will want to have BIG LEG DRIVE – long, powerful strides = win races.
If you have SMALL ARM DRIVE, your legs will have SMALL LEG DRIVE – short, choppy, no progress = go nowhere fast.
3) INTENT and OUTPUT
If you’re looking to really improve your ACCELERATION and make changes in those first 5 yards, first 3 strides, and win those 50/50 battles and puck races – you have to train like you want to.
Your body needs to know how to MAXIMIZE its potential in training for it to translate to the game. If you never give 100% when training, it becomes much more difficult to improve your threshold and make that MAX EFFORT a thing of the past. That’s how we break thresholds and improve ability.
There is no substitute for INTENT when training, especially for high speed, high power, high pressure situations. Once you’re able to apply these technical skills to your acceleration technique, turn the notch up and apply them with FULL INTENT.
That will be the difference maker in your training.
If you’re an athlete that is looking to improve your acceleration, give these 3 tips a try. Obviously, these aren’t the end all and be all of speed training, but a nice way to get the ball rolling on improving your abilities!
And, if you’re an athlete looking to make significant improvements in your SPEED and ACCELERATION, contact myself, [email protected] to inquire about how our online and in-person training options can help set you apart from the competition for next season.
Written by: Neil Martin, Head Strength & Performance Coach