If you yearn for the kind of speed and acceleration that burns rubber on the turf, look to the teachings of 18th Century physicist Sir Isaac Newton. The god of gravity is the foremost innovator of acceleration theory—look up his Second Law of Motion. Newton never tossed a pigskin, but his influence is all over the speed routine of Baltimore Ravens hard-hitting safety Tommy Zbikowski.
“Whatever you may have problems with, or whatever you struggle with, you always want to turn your weaknesses into strengths,” Zbikowski says. Recognizing his deficiency in acceleration, the former Notre Dame All-American enlisted the help of speed coach Kevin Kasper before the 2008 NFL Combine. “[With this drill], he’s working on his reaction time…and it’s a great exercise for overall speed and quickness,” states Kasper, a former NFL speed demon himself, for six seasons.
Below, Kasper offers his Reactive Starts Drill, which helped Zbikowski become a third-round selection in the ’08 NFL Draft.
Reactive Starts Drill
• Lie with chest and stomach on ground and arms in push-up position
• On verbal command, explode out of start position and sprint 10 yards
• Jog back to start and get ready for next rep
Sets/Reps/Rest: 1×15 with minimal rest time
Adaptation: Lengthen sprint distance to 15 yards
Coaching Points: Stretch before attempting drill // Get up quickly out of start position and stay low or you’ll lose your balance // Drive your legs and maintain roughly a 45-degree body angle throughout sprint // Perform drill at end of a workout