I have seen athletes go from having a slow first step to a FAST first step after learning this one simple technique. They can’t believe how simple it is, but it is impossible to argue with physics:)
I will tell you the main point here so you don’t have to waste time trying other stuff that may or may not work:)
When training to improve speed a common question that I get is should I do my sprints out of a two-point or three-point stance?
We have our athletes at Fast Twitch U. and our online Combine Elite prep program do many sprints starting from a 2-Point Stance.
The 2-Point Stance is more sport specific.
NOTE: Although three-point stances are common in football they don’t exactly replicate the forty-yard dash stance.
FRONT SHIN ANGLE
The angle of the front shin plays a factor in determining the athletes’ acceleration speed. The athlete’s shin angle will determine the direction in which he puts force into the ground as he starts.
An athlete can create more horizontal force with a more horizontal shin angle.
I just want to emphasize here the importance of horizontal velocity. The goal of sprinting is to cover the required distance in as short of time as possible. To accelerate fast requires the production of as much horizontal velocity as possible.
In-Depth Horizontal Velocity Graph:)
The athlete wants to be able to produce maximum horizontal force while minimizing force in all other directions.
This maximizes his/her first step and acceleration speed.
Ankle mobility is the main factor that limits shin angle because the athlete must create passive dorsiflexion to move the shin forward without improperly shifting weight over the toes.
- To set up properly in a two-point stance you want to stand tall emphasizing posture.
- Bring your back foot back so you can get a good horizontal shin angle. If you have longer legs like I do then you really don’t want to spend time thinking about keeping that back leg as close as you can to the line.
Just like with our three-point stance we want to trade inches for angles.
- Its all good to trade a couple of inches at the start to get better shin angles so we can get more horizontal velocity.
- With the athlete setting himself up to maximize horizontal velocity this is setting him up to have a Fast first step.
- An average first step makes it challenging to beat the man across from you and put up an elite score at a combine.
HOW TO MOST EFFECTIVELY MAXIMIZE HORIZONTAL VELOCITY FROM A TWO-POINT STANCE
* From a loaded two-point stance, the athlete focuses on pushing off both legs.
* Loaded means doing a small hinge at the hips.
* Tighten the core.
* Driving his forward leg aggressively behind him while punching his back leg forward as if trying to break an imaginary pane of glass with his knee. As the legs split, the arms split in the opposite direction.
HOW TO IMPROVE DORSIFLEXION USING CORRECTIVE ANKLE MOBILITY
Corrective and mobility exercises are overhyped or underhyped, depending on who you ask. The debate on the benefits or non-benefits is becoming legendary at this point.
The “The Playmaker Two-Point, On Point, Standing Ankle Mobility” exercise deserves all the hype in the World because it targets ankle dorsiflexion range of motion.
To perform this transformative exercise have the athlete lean forward and put two hands against a wall. It is important that the athlete keeps spinal integrity while doing this.
- Stiffen the core.
- Bring one foot back 6 to 10 inches, based on comfort level and limb length.
- While in this position guide the shin forward, having the knee tracking neutrally over the toes.
- Move the shin forward as far as he/she can comfortably can with the back heel remaining on the ground, the athlete will feel a stretch in the back of his front ankle and front lower leg. The ankle mobility exercise is designed to challenge the muscle and tendon without reaching the point of major discomfort.
YOUR FREE THREE WEEK SPEED TRAINING PROGRAM. Do this 2x a week.
Dan Tian Activation
20-yard Sprints from a two-point stance. Focus on getting your front knee over the toes.
Do 1 Sprint
Rest 1 minute
Repeat the above 4x
Then rest 5 minutes
You just completed 1 series
Do 4x series in total
Dynamic Cool Down
Ankle Mobility Stretch
THE POWER OF REST
Remember intensity equals output not effort so make sure to use all of the assigned rest time.
Once an athlete starts showing fatigue call it a day.
Both speed and movement skill acquisition improvements only happen based on the quality of execution so if you continue to work under fatigue, then you will begin to compromise the adaptations gained from movement training.
Recovering properly especially for football players is a gritty skill.
The reason I say “Gritty Skill:)” is that most high-level football players are savages and it can be hard to feel like a workout is complete without feeling some form of a burn.
HOW SPEED AND MOVEMENT SKILL ACQUISITION TRAINING WORKS
—> Undertraining = too little stress.
—> Overtraining = too much stress.
—> Maintenance training = stress that keeps us where we’re at.
—> Speed and Movement skill acquisition training = adaptive stress that challenges athletes to get faster and better.
Please recognize and appreciate another one of my super in-depth complicated diagrams.
THE TIME BETWEEN POINTS
Dr. Jim Loehr is a world-renowned performance psychologist, Co-Founder of the Human Performance Institute, and author of 16 books including his most recent book Leading with Character: 10 Minutes a Day to a Brilliant Legacy Set.
In Loehr’s book old-school peak performance book Toughness Training for Life he talks about how the Best of the Best maximize rest intervals.
“Much of what I understand about the importance of recovery in life evolved initially from a 2 1/2-year study of how top professional tennis players managed stress during competition. I wanted to identify the acquired habits of thinking and acting that helped mentally tough competitors manage stress so effectively.
I was convinced that if I looked closely enough, I could isolate the elements of mental toughness. However, months of intense study and analysis revealed few significant differences between
the thoughts or actions of top competitors and poor competitors while the ball was in play. This came as a surprise, to say the least.
Not until I began a rigorous study of between-point time did I discover dramatic differences. I soon saw that the top players thought and acted very differently between points.”
Did you know that 85 percent of a tennis match is between-point time?
Football is even higher, 90%. A regulation NFL game consists of four quarters of 15 minutes each, but because the typical play only lasts about four seconds, the ratio of inaction to action is approximately 10 to 1.
Between each point, tennis players are allowed 25 seconds. In a 2 hour match, the entire playing time might be as little as 20 minutes.
No one really gave this much thought but Loehr discovered that it was during this time—the RECOVERY phase—that the best competitors separated themselves from the not-so-great.
LEARN FROM THE BEST. YOU AND YOUR ATHLETES CAN APPLY THIS SAME PRINCIPLE.
Here’s how Loehr puts it: “All the data indicated that the best competitors maximized their opportunities for recovery between points. They had acquired a highly refined and precise system of trained recovery. In contrast, poor competitors were less disciplined, less exact, less ritualistic, and more varied in their actions between points. They were also much more likely to express negative emotion each time they made a mistake. When angry, frustrated, disappointed, irritated, or discouraged, they were far more likely to show it.”
PEAK PERFORMANCE CHALLENGE: My challenge to you and or your athletes when resting in between sprints is to make the decision to be disciplined, exact, and ritualistic.
A great way to maximize a rest interval is to teach athletes to change focus from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. Have the athlete lie down in corpse pose and focus on breathing in and out through the nose with the exhale being slightly longer than the inhale.
GOOD, BETTER, BEST
How can you have your athletes objectively evaluate progress and celebrate the fact that they are sprinting faster?
As a transformative tool for improving performance, have your athletes debrief their two sprint workouts this week.
Evaluate the mental, technical, and tactical aspects.
Specifically, have them ask three questions.
1) What did I do that was good?
2) What needs to get better?
3) What changes should I make to become my best?
Evaluating our performance is important. The best players in the World spend more time preparing and evaluating compared to their peers.
And… notice the order of questions.
Most athletes do not have a performance journal. Even though at this point the science is undeniable, the best athletes spend more time reviewing their practice sessions.
This is one of the big reasons the best athletes get more out of each practice than their competitors.
And the small percentage of athletes who do have a performance journal attack their review the wrong way.
Because most athletes immediately start with what they DIDN’T like about their performance. Shining a light on what needs work is important.
But effective evaluation begins only AFTER you’ve recognized what’s WORKING really well.
So, start with that.
1) What did you do that was good?” Celebrate it. Do more of that. THEN, it’s time to look at what needs work.
2) What needs to get better?” Alright. That could use some work. I can see how I can do that better. Look at this info like a scientist looks at data. Be completely unemotional about it.
3) What changes should I make to become my best? Yes. Let’s crush that.
It’s impossible to know if you are sprinting faster if you are not tracking your progress.
THE DAY YOU DEVELOPED A FASTER FIRST STEP
A big factor in Developing a Faster First Step is maximizing horizontal velocity. To maximize first step and acceleration capabilities the athlete must be able to produce maximum horizontal force while minimizing force in all other directions. Do this Free Training and develop a Faster First Step today!
If you are an athlete who wants to develop a faster first step, improve sprint speed, and develop explosive Power then you want to join Fast Twitch U. today.
I believe in your greatness,
Speed and Explosion Specialist
M. Ed (Human Potential)
MBA Leadership and Coaching
Since you’re here…
…YO, I have a small favor to ask. More people are reading The Playmaker Project article section than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage me with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. I believe in your Greatness. — CJ