Acceleration is everything in sports. It’s the difference between making and not making the play. Knowing proper acceleration technique can turn your 4.6-second 40-Yard Dash into a 4.4.
Trainers and coaches use several acceleration drills to increase an athlete’s speed, but are they all appropriate? A lot of resisted drills require you to have a certain level of strength and maintain correct body position. Younger athletes often have a hard time with this. Below, I go over five simple acceleration drills that build off each other, with each progression more difficult than the previous one.
Wall Drills are a great way to get athletes in the proper forward-lean position for acceleration. This drill allows them to work on the piston action technique before they get on the line and run.
- Lean into a wall or sled from the balls of your feet, not your toes.
- Fully extend at the knees and hips. Brace your abdominals and keep your back flat.
- Punch one knee forward while keeping the foot in a dorsiflexed position (toes pulled up towards your shin).
- March in place, punching your knees forward and driving your foot back behind your hips.
- For a 1 count, start with one leg up; when your coach or partner claps, switch to the other leg up.
- For a 2 count, start with one leg up; when your coach or partner claps, punch your other leg forward, drive that leg back and then punch the start leg forward and hold until the next clap.
- For a 3 count, start with one leg up; when your coach or partner claps, switch three times and finish with your opposite leg up.
- March – 3×15 seconds
- 1 count – 3×10
- 2 count – 3×10 each leg
- 3 count – 3×10
A-March and A-Skip
These drills take the piston action of the Wall Drill and teach driving the foot down to the ground. The skip and march patterns help athletes understand the cross extensor reflex system with opposite arm/leg drive. These drills work on ball-of-foot contact on the ground along with tempo and coordination during the skip.
The A-March is a basic march tempo, which works on getting the knee, heel and toe up. Punch your knee up and drive your foot back down, then switch to the other leg. Make sure to have a good arm drive with that reinforcing opposite arm, opposite leg.
The A-Skip takes the march pattern into a skip with a double bounce and keeps the knee up, heel up and toe up. It can be done forward and backward, reinforcing the ball-of-foot contact on the ground. You want a good arm drive action, driving the elbow back. Check out the video player above to see a demonstration.
- A-March – 3×4 for 5 yards
- A-Skip – 3×4 for 5 yards
Resisted A-March and A-Skip
These drills take the mechanics of the Wall Drills and put you in a harness to go through the piston action of acceleration on the turf. You get to practice the mechanics without a wall. Do the resisted work after you understand the piston leg action needed for acceleration and have developed a good arm drive with the A-March and A-Skip drills.
- For the Resisted March and Run, keep your foot dorsiflexed (toes pulled up towards shin).
- Strike the ground with the ball of your foot and keep your calf muscles on a stretch.
- For the Resisted March, start with your feet together in a forward lean position on the balls of your feet, not the toes.
- Lean from the ground and not the hips. This position mimics the Wall Drill start position.
- March forward, punching your knee forward and driving your foot back behind your hips and landing on the ball of your foot.
- For the Resisted Run, start in the same lean position as the March.
- Perform a more rapid knee punch, then a march, focusing on driving your foot back behind your hips and landing on the ball of your foot.
- Drive your elbow back.
- Resisted March – 3×4 for 5 yards
- Resisted Run – 3×4 for 10 yards