Sprint Drill Progressions

Go to your local track meets, your state’s meet, and various high school and college combines and pro days to see these drills taken to the extreme. I feel like I am watching So you thing you can dance? Or some other freestyle running competition.

These drills are great to get an athlete ready and in the right mindset for speed work. I like that they can learn extension relaxation rhythmn etc then try and duplicate those qualities in the actual training session. A question for number 2, if your moving at 1m/s during A skip/A run would heel contact with over emphasized dorsifelxion serve a purpose? I understand this does not happen at 10,11,12 m/s but do these prepatory movements expose the athlete to various foot contacts and durability? I am a big fan of the rolling hops that CF shows in some videos as it feels very smooth and effortless. It also seems to deload the knee and load the hip to a great extent. Thoughts

If the drills are done properly (stepping down and just in front of the center of mass) you should be landing on the ball of the foot and utilizing the stretch reflex in the foot arch/achilles tendon. Dorsiflexion should be emphasized on the upward swing of the leg, but not overemphasized on the downward step. The foot will do what it is supposed to do. An overemphasis on dorsiflexion on the downward stroke can be problematic. Remember those devices that Seagrave promoted (the Dorsiflexor) that secured around your ankle and pulled your shoelaces up. What a load of horseshit that was (I’m channelling Charlie).

Kids should do the drills correctly and should be able to sustain the technique at the intensities you suggest. They may fall apart in their actual running, but that is why we are using the drills. Charlie described drills as either:

  1. Active - Used to teach athletes skills and develop the necessary strength to run.
  2. Reactive - Used to correct errors in running (i.e. fix your arm swing, emphasize stiffness during stance phase keeping the hip high, etc.).

In the case of kids, drills are primarily “Active” in application. As they get older and stronger, they will likely become more “Reactive” in nature.

Ok guys correct me if Im wrong but my old coach, I should say my last coach taught us not to to do B skips cause he said it caused a BRAKING ACTION. They way he explained it to me made sense. I’d love to hear you guys thoughts

I would say false - only if you do them the way most people do them.

Sounds a lot like what Seagrave said at the clinic I went to.

I brought half a dozen of the footflexr’s late around 1986 and used them at training, all the athletes said when they took them off they could feel how they were dorsiflexing the foot while it was in the air.

I have the Complete Speed Video from Latif Thomas, your feedback on his technique is appreciated, is it correct as Mach would have wanted? I tried to upload the video with this but it seems like only if the video is on the web will it be possible.

Looks like it finally made it to youtube-


Great find, thanks!
Who’s the lady? Angela, is that you?

This is a great video. Keep in mind that the Lions athletes had probably never done these drills before. Placed in that context, I think many of them look quite good considering their probable level of experience- it takes a while to learn to do these drills correctly as we all know.

Here’s some food for thought, and it’s a situation I ran into very recently. Let’s say you train someone and they pick up an injury that doesn’t allow them to sprint for a short period of time. If you don’t teach them A skips, B skips, butt kicks, Running A’s, straight leg bounds, and a variety of other drills, you are subtracting a LOT of options from your bag of potential alternative exercises. This to me is a HUGE reason to teach these drills slowly over time. I had to learn this the hard way as even though we have always done the key drills, having a few more options would have been helpful. I have re-dedicated myself to investigating all drills fully. In this particular case, the athlete’s physiology limits the variety of lifts he can do, which makes drills doubly important as an alternative stimulus when he can’t run.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on them in each practice, but if you teach them and they are in there, they remain part of your bag of tricks to pull out when athletes can’t do what you would ideally like them to. You can still get a nervous system stimulation from having them do drills so that your athlete doesn’t end up detrained. Without drills, my athletes minor setback could have turned into a more serious one!

I agree for the most part with most assessments here of sprint drills in the training inventory. They are an important part of T&F conditioning and, when performed correctly, support good musclo-skeletal balance in prep with most training units.

Though I don’t include much of it in our specific speed development sessions, I can understand and see where many perhaps do.

Whoever she is, she’s hot.

Bert took this video a long time ago and I don’t remember if the guys had done the drills but based on the comments from Charlie I don’t think they had.
We were there for 2 weeks and what has always impressed me with the professional football players and basketball players I was around , was how easily each person was able to pick up the drills.
I did drills including A skip, B skips, Running A’s , almost every day for the past 20 plus years. I continue to do drills even if that is as far as my training allows. Drills for me generally are a priority in my training both personally and when I teach and or coach are person.
Everything you say T’Slow is bang on about drills.

Thanks for the video. In regard to T-Slow, most of my contemporaries have been brought up on Seagrave version of drills, what are good sources of drills that Charlie (and you guys) like(d)?

[QUOTE=AJP;245322]Great find, thanks!
Who’s the lady? Angela, is that you?[/QUOTE

Al Vermeil gave me a copy of this upon my request in the past year but I could not post it as I did not have permission to do so.
I was trying to find a way to give it away as it’s an excellent example of Coach Charlie Francis teaching professional football players track and field drills.
The video also has the important comments for everyone to hear and see first hand.
One thing I would like to point out about my own running A’s at the time which was very early on in my serious training for track. I want to say ~ 1991 but I have to check my books and double check the dates. I was not using my arms enough. I was too weak at that point and not able to pump my arms the way I was able to do so later on when my strength improved. This is something you can not rush in program as many of you will know. As a coach you are not able to emphasize all things all the time. This does not mean I stopped doing the drill because doing the drill over time is one way you get better at that drill. In the spring and in the fall we used to do our drills up a small incline ( hill) to encourage better use of the arms.
Yes AJP. The lady in the video is me :wink:
this is the camp where I did a push up sit up workout ( 2 sets of 100 meter with 25 sit ups and 10 push ups on either end of the 100 meters) with one of the quarter backs and beat him on every run. Goes to show you how specific certain workouts can be. I was used to doing that workout but he had never done it. ( big ego boost for me at the time as I actually thought it meant something … all it meant was I had done that workout many times before and he had not. :wink:


Those were pretty fast looking for tempo runs. Certainly good fitness then.


Cf mentioned something to this effect several times in the DVDs that some things will take a season or two to achieve certain goals. It simply takes time to develop the proper qualities.

kinda relates-

I couldn’t help but remember this article as well- http://speedendurance.com/2012/10/04/interview-with-andreas-behm-by-mike-young/

Andreas Behm (Coach of Aries Merritt):
“It took us two or even three years to get to this point.” re: 8 step to 7 step approach to the 1st hurdle.
“The work on this started two seasons ago when we were still using an 8 step approach. On acceleration days Aries would alternate his front feet on each rep, so as to get used to having his unaccustomed foot forward in the blocks.”

We all have for the most part heard about the horror stories of trying to change things in training at the last minute…including starts/blocks (even at the Olympic games).


Videos like this are really helpful, to see athletes at varying stages in their mastery, along with comments on what’s good and what needs to be worked on. You can only learn so much from watching the elite, and while they might be nice examples of what to aspire to in terms of form, it certainly doesn’t tell you how they developed that form. When the athletes you work with are more akin to those featured in this video, videos like this one and the SA series are really valuable practical tools.

Oh, and nice outfit Angela!


I used this correction for a weaker female today and it improved her times quite a bit. Thanks for sharing this tip! I was trying to get into a position she obviously couldn’t handle. We are working on strength with throws, weights, jumps, hills. It will be interesting to see how she progresses.

Yes, thanks for this. As someone without a formal track background, this is a great way to see what Charlie was looking for in some of these drills and starts. I really appreciate this, and it is easy enough to show my non-track athletes this!

Videos like this are really helpful, to see athletes at varying stages in their mastery, along with comments on what’s good and what needs to be worked on. You can only learn so much from watching the elite, and while they might be nice examples of what to aspire to in terms of form, it certainly doesn’t tell you how they developed that form. When the athletes you work with are more akin to those featured in this video, videos like this one and the SA series are really valuable practical tools.

I think there is a lot of valuable info watching the coaching of others as you say.
I have been at a few tracks recently watching people do random drills with no one watching or coaching. I do not understand this.
Until you are strong enough and experienced enough it’s important to have a coach watching the training to point out what is going on.