Getting off the block and acceleration

An athlete with good top-end speed and speed endurance who is lagging a bit at the start likely is lacking some of the following:

Reaction time
Strength in the quads
Poor start mechanics

Question: Assuming that lack of strength is the area needing the most work, which of the following (or other) are the best ways to improve starting power? Rank if you like…

  1. Practicing starts.
  2. Using isorobic exerciser.
  3. Step ups with heavy load.
  4. Plyometrics. Bounding, hopping, etc.
  5. Squats.
  6. Short hills, shallow grade.
  7. Lunges.
  8. Hurdle hops.

I think all of these are good, just wondering about which are best, how much of one vs. another, volume, frequency, etc, based on your experience. How much attention would you give it in GPP, SPP and in season?

I would think this should get a fair amount of attention in GPP with higher volumes and frequency for this type of work and then backing off gradually in SPP and in season once the improved strength and starting capability is in place, aiming more at max v and speed endurance.

Thanks for your thoughts.

There are drills like medball throw very usefull for the purpose of improving the start.
At the same time you can change his starting position in a larger angles direction (closer angle need more strength).
Maybe, assuming he is really lacking in quadriceps strength,and that’s limiting his start performance a way to train quite as before without changing much would be prefer front squats instead of back squats.
I tried back not deep squat with an isometric hold at about my knee angle in the start position…i improved a little,but i am not sure the improvement were beacuse the squat or because the overall training(in fact in that mesocycle i improved also in bench & powerclean).
In fact i think that strength at a certain angle is something “neurological”.

But,how are you sure that are quadriceps strength his limiting factor?

If the athlete does not posses the strength to start correctly, then it seems to me that having them practice more starts (#1) would be an exercise in frustration at best.

Get the strength levels up and start mechanics may miraculously improve! Since strength is a general, not specific quality, I would probably use squats and deadlifts, maybe power cleans if the athlete can do them correctly.

I have found simply having a good schedule in SPP1 that emphasises progressive acceleration over longer and longer distances (e.g. short to long) really helps in this respect. For my athletes it has helped massively. I managed to get 0.4s improvement from 7.4-7s 60m this year from a 17yr old female by simply being progressive. The medacine ball work is also essential - see GPP dvd.

Correct setting of the blocks and starting mechanics is also key here. While I didn’t have all the technical knowledge this season, in the last 2 weeks I have managed to get a consistant 0.1 improvement in my own block starts over 30m from following CFs advice. Before this I simply did not understand how to start and could not do so constantly. Simply following Charlie’s tips about clearing the hand first has made a massive improvement.

It is discussed in detail in the new Speed and Strength DVD. Look for my review in the Reviews Section.

Thanks for the suggestions. I forgot about the med ball work and have used that in past.

I can’t say for sure it’s a quad deficiency. I’m just basing that on a process of elimination where other starting factors (reaction, mechanics, block setting, etc.) appear to be OK.

I always work short to long, which helps.

I’ve read some of CF’s material on starts and we emphasize those mechanics. Are there any aspects in particular that you’ve emphasized that seem most helpful?

Looking to shave about tenth over the first 10 meters. (Isn’t everyone?)