D.C. United's breakaway drill

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By Randy Rocha

After a 10-minute warm-up, try stationary, sport-cord sprinting. This exercise, which can be performed inside or out, helps athletes who have the ability to get from point A to B efficiently, but who struggle in the open field—for example, running backs and soccer forwards. Designed to functionally increase muscle and cardiovascular endurance, sport-cord training provides resistance, which helps athletes gain the strength necessary to fight off shirt tugs and arm pulls in the open field.

To perform sport-cord sprints, you need a bungee cord that is 7 to 10 feet long when stretched. Attach one end to a stationary object and the other around your waist. Place a tapeline or cone about seven feet from the object.

Get into a track start position and rise into a forward sprint. The low start encourages a quick, explosive takeoff, while the upright position simulates sprinting in the open field. Once you cross the tapeline, continue with an explosive running motion to make sure you remain beyond the line. Focus on high knees and opposite arm/leg movements.

Perform three 30-second intervals with 90 seconds of rest every other day. (As your fitness level increases, perform five.) Make the drill harder by adding five-second, semi-lateral bounds in the middle. Bound from one leg to the other, from 10 o'clock with your left leg to 2 o'clock with your right leg. These improve your ability to cut laterally or pivot, since most game-time runs are not directly forward.

With bounding, the 30 seconds break down like this:

• Explosive start and sprint through the tapeline for the first 10 seconds
• Bound for 5 seconds
• Sprint for 5 seconds
• Bound for 5 seconds
• Finish the last five seconds strong with an all-out sprint

Randy Rocha is the head strength and conditioning coach for D.C. United. He is also the director of the Sports Performance Academy in Maryland.

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