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Resisted Sprinting for Game Changing Speed
When looking at speed training we can break it down into two categories. The two most impactful categories are: Technique and Power.
It is hard to argue the best way to develop power is through traditional strength training, but we can also develop Power and Technique through different forms of resisted sprinting.
As we take a look technique there I focus on two areas that an athlete can control the most, body awareness and acceleration. Acceleration effects many factors of technique. This includes posture, placement of arms and where the foot strikes the ground. This is best illustrated by the controlled fall.
On the strength training side for developing power, some of the best ways to develop lower body strength through heaven squatting, deadlifting, sled pulling and pushing (I use with high school athletes and advanced middle school athletes), Olympic lifts and single leg squatting and hinging variations. The biggest game changer I have found and produces quick gains in speed is resisted sprinting with resistance bands.
Here are a few reasons you should use resisted sprinting to improve an athletes acceleration.
1. During resisted sprinting hip muscle recruitment goes up (1), leading to higher force output in unloaded sprinting.
2. Increases in lower body power have been shown to improve ground reaction forces (2) AKA Push Harder = Run Faster
3. Increased loads during resisted sprinting help improve the athletes arm action during sprinting. A serious arm action can improve leg movement and improve stride length (3)(Technical bonus!!!)
Here are 3 types of resisted sprinting I commonly use in my facility.
Sprinting against the resistance of bands is similar to that of towing a sled, but the force is greater on each subsequent stride. Benefits of sprinting against band resistance are easy increase or decrease in resistance without the loading and unloading of plates, and the extreme portability of the implement.
There are other types of resisted sprinting that are unavailable to us in our facility (parachutes, self powered treadmills, etc) those tools can be useful as well to improve an athlete’s ability to produce power in acceleration.
With the athlete hooked to a sled behind them this form of resisted acceleration has been shown to improve the fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment, while not having a great impact on the form associated with acceleration (1). In this form of training athletes’ arms are free to swing in the proper patterns and athletes are able to get the great benefit of increased arm action.
Based on where the load is attached to the athlete (a harness, or belt) you may see differences in the body lean during acceleration for athletes using this technique. I prefer a harness as it encourages a large body lean and a drive phase where the shoulders lead the action.
Sled pushing is typically done against a Prowler or other drive sled. In this use of a sled, the athletes’ arms are not free to swing and there is no involvement in the upper body.
The biggest benefit to this type of sprinting is that the body position (lean) can be pre-determined by you as the coach. Immediate feedback as to the nature of the ground strike is also available from this type of sprinting. If an athlete’s upper body begins to rise quickly, or their hips rise (from a break in posture) you can determine that their foot strike is likely happening in front of their body in acceleration and you can make adjustments accordingly to prevent this braking motion.
1. Lockie, R. Murphy A. and Spinks C Effects of resisted sled towing on sprint kinematics in Field-Sport Athletes. J. of S&C Research. 17 (4), 760-767. 2003.
2. YOUNG, W., B. MCLEAN, AND J. ARDAGNA. Relationship between strength qualities and sprinting performance. J. Sport
Med. Phys. Fit. 35:13–19. 1995.
3. BHOWMICK, S., AND A.K. Bhattacharyya Kinematic analysis of
arm movements in sprint start. J. Sport Med. Phys. Fit. 28:315–
By Danial Blunk
As a parent we never want to see our kids struggle with anything they do. Especially in sports they play and when they do it tugs at our emotions just as it does theirs.
Do you ever feel as if they are not playing at their full potential?
Are they always in the middle of the pack or always finishing last?
During their team huddles do you find them in the back of the group or have pulled themselves out of practice completely?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, don't worry, your not alone. Many parents have the same struggle. They have found the solution and now you can too. You are probably asking yourself, or your computer, well what is the solution? I will guide you through the process on how to develop your child's confidence, self-esteem, mental and physical strength. It is very likely they lack in one or more of these areas. Once accepted to our program your child will participate in a Long Term Athletic Development program that will give them an EDGE above the competition and catapult their athletic potential.
This program is LIMITED to a hand full of new athletes each year. I know as a parent I want my kids to see their full athletic potential and I'm sure you do as well. If you are click apply now button below.
Imagine what it will feel like when you know the decision you made to get STARTED , will help your child reach their full potential and give them the confidence they deserve. Don't hesitate a minute longer.
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If you have ever tried to ignore a box of doughnuts at work, you know how hard it is to keep your hands to yourself and walk on by. And once you walk on by, the battle isn’t over. Even if you are in a different room and down the hall, you can’t stop thinking about those doughnuts.
Why is it so hard to resist something as small and seemingly innocent as a doughnut? It has to do with habit—and mind set.
The draw you feel from that doughnut goes way beyond just a mild interest: you are wired to want it, and resistance is hard. In his book, The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler MD explains the breakdown:
When you taste foods that are highly palatable (such as foods containing excess sugar, fat and salt), your brain releases opioids into your blood stream. Opioids are brain chemicals that cause you to have intense feelings of reward and pleasure, as well as relieving pain and stress. The pleasurable effect is similar to the feelings that morphine and heroin users experience. The desire may be so intense that you keep taking one bite after another: it can be hard to stop.
That explains why you keep eating. But why do you give in and approach that doughnut box in the first place? Why not just refuse to take that first bite?
The answer is another brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for motivating you to seek out the doughnut so you can get the opioid release. You remember how good it tasted and how great it made you feel. Dopamine energizes you to work for that doughnut. It causes you to concentrate on it and drives you to seek it out.
Once this process happens a few times, the whole cycle becomes a habit that is very reward focused, very ingrained and very hard to break. Your brain’s circuitry has become mapped and wired to want the doughnut. And you don’t even have to be near the doughnut for this process to start--the dopamine can kick in even when there are no doughnuts in site: ever made a run to the store for a treat that you just had to have right then?
Over one-third of all adults in our country are obese. We live in a society in which we are surrounded by highly-palatable foods (think restaurant foods and processed foods). The deeply ingrained habit of eating unhealthy food and too much of it is widespread. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded not only with unhealthy food, but also with a neural circuitry that drives us to pursue that unhealthy food.
Remap your brain with mindset
And now the good news: you can start right now to change the trajectory that you are on. You can rewire your brain and begin reducing the power that those opioid-producing foods have over you. You can draw a new map in your mind that will have you passing by the doughnuts on your way to better pleasures.
The secret is mindset. You must want something else more than you want those fleeting moments of pleasure that the doughnuts bring you. What is it? What do want? Maybe you want to drop a couple of jeans sizes. Maybe you want to be off your blood pressure medication. Maybe you want to be known as an ‘athletic’ type person. Maybe you want to keep disease at bay. Or maybe you just want the immense satisfaction of being in control of yourself! People who can’t resist a doughnut have given away power over their own lives!
Once you know what you want, go after it with the following strategies:
1. Stop. There is no other way to say this: you must stop eating foods that are not in your plan. In the beginning, this will be difficult. When everyone around you is tossing back pizza and soft drinks, you will struggle. You will smell the pizza, you will be in the emotionally charged atmosphere and dopamine will be flowing in your bloodstream. Think about what you want more than that doughnut; think about what you can only have by resisting the doughnut. Sheer will-power is what you have to use at this point.
2. Savor the victory. Once you come out on the other side having successfully won the battle within your own mind, you will have accomplished much more than just saying no to a piece of pizza. You will have begun ‘cooling’ the stimulus, as Dr. Kessler puts it. You have taken the first step toward weakening the circuitry in your brain that drives you to habitual patterns of behavior. The next time, it will be easier. And after that, even easier.
3. Focus on new rewards. As you remap your brain, you are creating new neural pathways that in time will be stronger than the weakening, “doughnut-centered” pathways. Make sure these new rewards are life-giving and energy-producing, such as the thrill you get when you can run a 5K or set a PR in your weight-lifting.
You can have power over habits: it’s all about mindset. You can do this!
So how do you get your players closer to becoming a Total Athlete by developing their speed? Here’s my top five ways to develop speed and quickness in a player.
1. Teach proper speed mechanics
I rarely see a softball player that has great speed mechanics, which is too bad, because it’s the easiest way to develop a speed in any player, regardless of their natural speed.
What do proper speed mechanics consist of? The player has the ability to quickly transition from one speed skill to another, for example a shuffle to a sprint. Proper speed mechanics also regulate a correct sprinting form; a good forward lean, shoulders and hips square, knee drive at a 60% angle and a great stride.
Lastly, players need an accelerated first step quickness which allows them to react quickly within the first two steps rather than a lazy acceleration then slowly picking up speed.
2. Strength Training
One of the best ways to increase speed is to increase a player’s strength capacity. Players should and need to be on a well-developed strength program that is designed to create strength in the muscle groups involved in the running motion. Some of these exercises involved should be; squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, lateral lunges. I could go on forever but those are some great standards to develop strength in the quads, hips, glutes and hamstrings. As you choose a strength program please make sure your strength coach is well educated in designing a safe and productive program.
3. Sprint work
Yes, to become a faster player you must run sprints. Players need to start developing fast twitch muscle groups and increase their speed skills. I have seen coaches and even some trainers have their players run a mile or two to get in shape, that’s a big NO, NO. The topic here is getting faster and running miles at a time or even one mile will slow a player down. The longest I ever have player run for is two minutes, and its usually pitchers to work on endurance.
4. Agility skills
I really believe that creating the skills in a player to make a player more explosive will translate into a faster player. For example, jumping knee tucks may not seem like they would help develop speed but they absolutely do. This movement is developing initiation of the same muscle groups and fast twitch power systems used in sprinting. I also think that ladder drills are good if performed correctly, same with cones drills. The player must have a clear understanding of how to perform the drills correctly.
5. Flexibility and Mobility skills
This seems to be one of the least popular skills developed for players, though it is one of the most necessary. Mobility skills like; dynamic stretching, active dynamic, foam rolling is all piece of the speed puzzle. These skills not only prepare muscle groups and the neurological system for speed but they prevent injury, open up and lengthen muscles, and mentally prepare a player for speed work.
If you notice your teams time to first are slow, they move slowly to a ball, they don’t react quickly or are consistently getting thrown out stealing try incorporating these skills into your players development program.
Myth #4: Athlete X didn’t do LTAD, so mine shouldn’t either.
This is a classic one: A great athlete someplace recounts how they started playing sport X when they were 8 years old, and only played that sport along the way. He or she never played anything else, trained with extreme specialization all along the way, or never hit a weight room ever, and now he or she is the greatest player on earth. Logically, the young athlete you are working with could follow the same path.
Wrong. These athletes are outliers. They truly are the best in the world and have the genetics to prove it. A better argument might be, “Can you imagine how good he or she would have been if he or she had been a part of an LTAD model?”
Now that’s a scary thought!
LTAD is the only true model that we can follow if we want to train our athletes the right way. Don’t fall prey to the outliers, misconceptions, and myths that surround proper training.
Myth #2: LTAD says sport specialization is bad.Specialization will happen; the age at which it happens is the part that we must be concerned with. Even classic models of LTAD recognize that sport specialization must occur and even in some cases at an early age (figure skating and gymnastics are the best examples) for an athlete to reach an elite or world-class level.
In most sports, however, the best case is for late specialization with an early introduction. This means athletes are first introduced to the rules and concepts then to the skills used to participate at an early age. Later in life, they choose to specialize only after participating in other sports and in general physical preparation-type training.
Over the next 4 weeks I will be covering the topic of LTAD or better known as Long Term Athletic Development. You may be asking what LTAD is. Human Kinetics describes it as: LTAD is a model that people must fully understand all seven stages before implementing. Administrators, coaches, and parents should also remember that moving from one stage to another is based on the athlete’s development and not just chronological age; however, chronological age can be used as a guide. Some stages also identify a developmental age. For example, the beginning of the growth spurt identifies a specific developmental age, which occurs at widely varying chronological ages. Males and females develop at different rates, and their ages differ through the stages. LTAD, therefore, requires the identification of early, average, and late maturers to design training and competition programs that match athletes’ trainability and readiness. You can read the full article by clicking HERE.
The next 4 weeks will be covered as follows:
Week 1: Not for elite level athletes
Week 2 : Sport Specialization
Week 3: Multiple Sports
Week 4: They did't, so why should mine
Now lets dive into our week one topic
Myth #1: Not for elite level athletes.
The thinking goes that to be elite level, you have to start at a young age and continue on in a linear path to reach the highest levels. Something along the lines of if you are the best at 8 years old, 10 years old, and so on, you will also be the best at 27 years old. This is simply not true.
The correctly applied model of LTAD provides athletes with growth at every stage: Birth-6, 6-9, 10-13, 14-18, 19+.
At each of these stages, the fundamentals must be mastered, and then the athlete can be progressed; it is through this model of continuous, small improvements that an athlete can potentially become an elite level athlete.
Until next time...
Myth #3: Playing multiple sports is what LTAD is.
Much of the data that we have regarding LTAD refers solely to the number of sports that athletes play during their development. While this is a large part of a properly implemented LTAD program, it is not the only part. In fact, year-round sport participation can actually lead to a higher chance of burnout.
I think we could agree that 10-year-olds playing on travel teams year-round in basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc., would create the conditions that lead to burnout.
A properly designed LTAD program must also include general physical preparation that focuses on the development of physical literacy in all aspects (run, jump, throw, skip, catch, swim, balance, and more). We cannot only rely on multiple sport participation.
I have eavesdropped on quite a few conversation at youth sporting events and heard many topics being discussed among the parents. One recurring topic is “How early is too early for my child to strength training or lift weight?” and “What are the benefits?”
When the question of what age is too young, I like to reference this research article done by ACSM that states, “Generally speaking, if children are ready for participation in organized sports or activities — such as Little League baseball, soccer, or gymnastics — then they are ready for some type of strength training.”(1) All sports require a degree of strength to be able to participate. When you increase strength you are helping prevent future injuries.
Often times the parents are also concerned about injuries. In a study done by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), strength training caused 0.7% of injuries, while football was at 19%, basketball was at 15%, and soccer at 2%.(2) To limit the possibility of an injury to a youth athlete, it would be recommended to have a qualified instructor or coach with an athlete to coach ratio of 10:1. As for me personally, I like to lower the ratio to no more than 4:1. By doing this, I can focus on proper form and lifting technique.
In a 2012 article, published by the Mayo Clinic it listed the following benefits:
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when training our younger population.
Most of these came from the NSCA “Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.”
These are some basic guidelines. Once the young athletes is comfortable with training we will gradually increase their training load. Slowly transitioning young athletes from basic movements to advance is key to a LTAD (Long Term Athletic Development) program. Being a coaching youth athletes is about helping them reach their full potential.
The popularity of youth sports has grown tremendously over the last few years. It is imperative now more than ever before that we teach the parents and our young athletes the benefits of a strength and conditioning. Our young athletes many not understand why they are strength training and will participate only because their parent or coach told them to. In time the child will see improvements in their performance along with their parents and peers praising them on how much they have improved in their sport. Being able to change kid’s life with training is a blessing.
1.Faigenbaum, Avery, and Lyle Micheli. "Youth Strength Training." American College of Sports Medicine. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/youthstrengthtraining.pdf>.
2. Howard, Rick. "Why Youth Strength and Conditioning Matters." NSCA. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nsca.com/education/articles/why-youth-strength-and-conditioning-matters/>.
3. "Tween and Teen Health." Strength Training: OK for Kids? Mayo Clinic, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2014. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/strength-training/art-20047758>.