Work smarter, not harder. That’s the speed secret of the NFL’s fastest man, DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles [not that we at STACK condemn hard work]. Enhancing his game speed is Jackson's goal each and every off-season. His focus on refining minor details of his sprint mechanics is what makes the All-Pro wide receiver and return man such a big-time threat every time he touches the football.
“I’m constantly reminding myself of certain techniques,” Jackson says. “You always know, but you can always enhance your speed to another level. So I work hard at that, but at the same time, keep things simple for the off-season.”
Jackson’s sprint training starts with a warm-up routine that goes beyond simply preparing his muscles for activity. Comprising movement prep exercises such as Straight-Leg Skip to High Knees and Rhythmic Bounding, the warm-up emphasizes the development and synchronization of Jackson’s speed muscles, making sure they fire explosively and in the right sequence.
“He’s wired correctly, and the reason is because of these warm-up drills,” says Jackson’s speed coach, Gary Cablayan. “With these exercises, we’re making sure everything is warmed up, his timing is good, and he’s ready to fire.”
Once Jackson is firing on all cylinders, he applies his refined sprint mechanics to agility drills and route-running. As he points out, you need more than speed alone to beat the top cover corners in the NFL. It is Jackson’s ability to stop instantly and transfer his energy explosively that keeps defending secondaries off balance and produces his separation speed.
“It’s good to stop on a dime, especially with how fast I’m running, and still be productive, as far as running the route,” Jackson says. “When I’m running at a defender and I’m able to stop automatically, that defender thinks I’m running by him, so that gives me separation to create room to do what I need to do as a wide receiver.”
The result of Jackson’s simple summer speed training: “Basically getting me from the starting point to the end zone. Point me to the end zone and I’m gone.”
Get up to speed with Jackson's training in the videos above, which feature his speed warm-up followed by his Five-Cone Zigzag Drill and route-running routine.
Photo: German Alegria