I recently read an article describing the methods of speed and conditioning coach, Tom Shaw. He is apparently the conditioning coach for the New England Patriots. I wanted to post a few things from the article to illicit responses from the experts on this forum.
“The fastest people on earth aren’t those running from Geraldo. They’re those with optimum stride length and frequency–that is, the length of your step and how quickly you get from one foot to the other. Everything is about those two things, Shaw says. But you can’t just have one or the other. If it was just about stride length, Manute Bol would be the fastest guy in the world. If it was about stride frequency, Mini-Me would be. It’s got to be a combination. That’s why Dejon Sanders is so fast. Shaw uses this drill he got from German sprint coaches in the late 1970’s to develop both at the same time. STRIDE-CHECKERS
You’ll need about 30 wooden paint sticks (free or very inexpensive at any hardware store) and a grass field, arranging the sticks on the ground like rungs on a ladder. Lay the first stick on the ground. Place the next two sticks at 18-inch intervals, then increase the distance by 4 inches with every subsequent pair of sticks–so there will be 22 inches between sticks three and four and sticks four and five, 26 inches between sticks five and six and six and seven, and so on. Thirty one sticks will take you past 38 yards, and your last two strides will be more than 6 feet apart.
Start where the sticks are close together. In a 90 to 100 percent sprint, step in between the sticks, keeping your knees high, with your toes landing right before each stick. Throughout the sprint, you’ll crescendo from short, quick, powerful steps to long, driving strides. You’re teaching your body to move fast, Shaw says. Do four to six sets of the sprint with a complete recovery in between. The payoff? If we can get a player’s stride length to increase by 2 inches, Shaw explains, they increase their stride by 40 inches over the 40-yard dash–that’s the difference between a 4.6- and a 4.4- second 40.”
Form and Power
“When it comes to speed, the two most important body parts are your hamstrings and your elbows-- yeah, we said elbows.
Here’s a quick self-test. Stand in place and put your hands to your side. Jog in place at a medium pace, keeping your arms still. Now, move your elbows as fast as you can. What happens? Your step frequency skyrockets–all because your elbows are powering the engine. In any speed drill, bend your elbows at 90 degrees and pump them hard–so your upper arm comes parallel to the ground on the front-stroke and sweeps past your hip on the back-stroke. The faster you move your elbows, the faster you’ll run.”
With regard to “Stride Checkers”, this is neither original nor an “ultimate” gain, IMHO. With respect to Tom Shaw, this method might be better demonstrated from Frye and/or Anderson’s sessions.
We have utilized these extensively in the past with either no SL/SF gains or simply fouling up an athlete’s natural acceleration pattern.
On the other hand, using fewer sticks (3-4), we were able to make some pattern corrections for a few developmental athletes. In each case, the problems were initially analyzed and stick placement based upon anthropometric parameters. Once adaptation took place, the sticks were removed from the session.
There are better upper body routines on this site, including specific med ball work, that enable proper arm movement. We have used devices such as Arm Power for kinesthetic purposes. Once objectives are achieved, they are completely removed from the program.
I might add, these activities were most effective when integrated with the base of CFTS.
This all from the same guy who described PNF as “partner stretching”. That’s a pretty vague, no scratch that dammit, that’s a total load of bullshitzu. Shaw has a habit of taking very simple, and general, methods and making them seem “cutting edge”. Thank goodness for Deion’s big damn mouth.