Athletes Nation: Accelerating For Speed
Coach Dan Lajoie of Athleties-Nation.com presents this video download on developing acceleration and linear speed for teams sports. The video follows a typical acceleration workout consisting of warm up, plyometrics, explosive medicine ball and sprint based running exercises with three developing team sports athletes.
The video begins with a segment on PNF stretching where Dan explains the purpose of the stretches and when and how to use them. Following this the athletes move into dynamic stretches with a specific focus on relaxation, which plays a major theme in the movie. In my experience many lower level athletes underestimate the importance of smooth fluid movement while running and it is good to see a coach trying to incorporate these aspects of high performance training into the work of developing athletes.
Several power speed drills from the Mach drill series are then demonstrated including A and B skips as well as running As. During these exercises Dan expands on some of the finer technical aspects of these drills. The next phase of the warm up is simple accelerations from a press up position over 10 yards and progresses to 20 yards once the athletes are fully warmed up. The accelerations are shot from several different angles and Dan spends a great deal of time going over the key coaching cues.
Having completed the warm up the workout moves to top speed work, which is often overlooked in team sports. A rise in maximal speed increases “speed reserve” which means that everything slower than this pace becomes easier. This is similar to the idea that if an athlete improves from squatting 100lbs to 200lbs, when they return to lifting 100lbs it is now much easier. These simple exercises also help to work on “pick up” following the initial acceleration from a stationary position and are performed over a total distance of 60 yards, with a different emphasis on each section of the run.
Having completed the running part of the workout the athletes move to plyometrics and medicine ball activities which help to support certain aspects of the sprint workout. The first half of this section covers explosive medicine ball work such as overhead and forward tosses as well as several novel forward throws. The video then moves onto some basic plyometrics progressions working from various forms of box jumps, towards multiple hops and hurdle jumps. Throughout the progressions Dan talks through the important technical aspects and explains how each exercise helps develop qualities necessary for explosive acceleration. Overall this section is invaluable for athletes training on their own or for coaches who need ideas for such drills. I’ve been using similar exercises for years and the development of these qualities is vital to aid progression in sprint and power based activities.
The second part of the video is a commentary by top speed coach Charlie Francis from CharlieFrancis.com. In this Charlie gives his own comments, and a touch of humour, on the workout and picks out those areas where he feels further information is necessary. Charlie has worked with many of the world’s top sprinters and team sports athletes and consults with numerous pro teams in North America. His ideas also form the basis for much of the Athletes-Nation material so this commentary is very worthwhile and adds a different perspective to the activities. To echo the comment at the start of this review, Charlie closes the video with a few words on the importance of relaxation and the way it drives everything that is good in performance sport.
The running time of this download is just over 50min and at around 90Mb it won’t be eating into precious hard disk space. Overall this is a good overview of sprint training for team sports and would be especially beneficial to athletes training on their own as well as strength and conditioning professionals who want to start incorporating field based speed work into their programs.