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Improve Football Speed Immediately with Four Simple Drills
What is the best way to increase speed for football?
This means arriving at full speed in as little time as possible. Football requires short, intense bursts of speed, and the most successful are those that can reach maximum speed quickly. Do you remember Barry Sanders? He’s not the fastest guy on the field, but no one has accelerated better, which is why he was so hard to knock down.
However, accelerating teaching can be tricky. This forces the athlete to apply more force into the ground during the push to achieve a longer stride and cover more ground. Explaining this concept to any athlete, especially younger ones, makes them think too much. This is where simple obstacle drills can make it infinitely easier by making technical improvements more automatic.
The hurdles used for these exercises are only 6 and 12 inches tall, but spaced well apart will force a longer stride length. Athletes should be instructed to push harder rather than reach over obstacles. Proper spacing will also force the athlete to sit lower and lean forward more to give the hips and legs a greater mechanical advantage to push off. It also forces a more powerful arm swing.
By adding a plyometric component to these drills, athletes will also learn how to land properly. Just by timing them through the drills, they quickly learn how to land correctly with good body control, as it dramatically improves their times. A hard landing with stiff legs will slow them down, compared to a soft, quiet landing which results in greater acceleration and reduced times.
Here are four exercises guaranteed to improve acceleration:
1) Beginnings of obstacles – these are ten meter sprints using 1-3 hurdles (6″ tall). Space the hurdles far enough apart that the athlete has to push hard to clear each one. Use a hurdle first to improve the first step and eliminate stuttering, then progress to three.Start from a standing position or from a three point.
2) 12″ Hurdle Jump to Sprint over 2 hurdles – jump two feet over a 12 inch hurdle, land on two, then accelerate over the next two hurdles for a total of 10 yards. Again, obstacles should be spaced out gradually to force more thrust.
3) 12″ Hurdle Jump to Sprint Sideways over 2 hurdles – same idea as #2, but move the hurdles to the side to force a cut then sprint. Start with the hedges at a 45 degree angle to the 12 inch hedges, then move to a 90 degree cut.
4) single leg jumps to sprint – install three six-inch hedges equidistant from each other. Jump over each obstacle using the same leg, then sprint 10 meters. Begin by having the athlete stick the landing in a single leg squat position between the first two obstacles to force good landing technique. When they land over the third hurdle, immediately push off the landing leg in the sprint portion of the exercise. Progress by accelerating the jumps between the hurdles.
tips for success
- The hurdles should be properly spaced to force the athlete to push harder. If they are too far away, they will try to approach to overcome them. The difference between pushing and reaching is obvious to coach and athlete.
- Do these exercises by position or with children of similar ability. Skilled players tend to be faster on the line and can handle more spacing between obstacles. Taller athletes tend to need less spacing, too much will cause jerky steps.
- Be creative. There are several ways to modify these exercises to make them more difficult. Incorporate different jumps or change the direction of sprints. Have your lineman shoot them, throw to the receivers during the jump, then speed over the hurdles, etc.
- Just so you know it works, time the 10 meter dash without the obstacles. Add 3 properly spaced hurdles and run again. Times will drop immediately in most cases. Some kids will need a few reps to learn, but all of my athletes improve in three tries.
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