“There is a misconception that football players should only train on-field speed,” says Bryan Miller, Oregon State University’s director of strength and conditioning.
“Unfortunately, little emphasis is placed on training linear speed, but it’s necessary.”
To create a well-rounded, fully fast athlete, Oregon State trains both speeds. Here are definitions of both and three points about training each, courtesy of Miller.
Straight ahead acceleration
|From January to March [off-season], the Beavers devote one of four running days to improving linear acceleration. During May [pre season], players work linear speed development to prepare for the 40.
|All positions train linear speed with the same speed drills and using the same sprinting mechanics. However, for heavier athletes and players with poor strength-to-weight ratios, the volume of linear speed work changes [i.e., fewer reps, shorter distances, pulling less weight, less plyometric work].
|Improving linear speed requires a high level of ground force production, a high level of central nervous system production, a great strength-to-body weight ratio, and the ability to perform technical and reactive movements. Focus on tall posture; proper, powerful arm swings; relaxing your head, neck and upper body; keeping your core engaged; and, applying maximum force into the ground each step.
Ability to perform position-specific skills and functions quickly
|January through August, players focus on position specific exercises and drills to work acceleration, deceleration, lateral speed and anaerobic conditioning.
|Athletes should use running mechanics specific to his positional skill work. Due to the correlation between a player’s on-field and linear speed, he should work to improve his overall production. E.g., an OL should improve his ability to pull on run plays; a DB needs to be able to run at full speed after opening his hips and turning out of his backpedal.
|On-field, position-specific work prepares a football player’s body for the destructive forces of the sport and allows his instincts to adapt to actions and reactions of his position.