In my ongoing quest to provide simple solutions to complex problems, I have created a video resource to help coaches and athletes develop an organized approach to improve starting and acceleration for their given sport. The result of this effort is “Start Mechanics and Training Applications.” Research has shown that how an athlete starts can greatly influence their acceleration mechanics and overall performance over short distance sprints. In sports that require athlete to move quickly over five to ten yards in order to be successful, great starts are a must. But, learning how to start properly is a complex issue that involves thousands of repetitions of good mechanics under ideal conditions. Athletes must have adequate recovery breaks between repetitions and must be reminded of the key rehearsal cues prior to executing the start. If these strict rules are adhered to every training session, the athlete will begin to assimilate the characteristics of good starts in all of their movements.
The video resource is divides starts into four main types:
1. Free Form Starts
Free form starts include all types of starts that involve no special equipment and no form of external resistance. These starts allow the athlete to express their strength and power with their own body weight, mastering the technique and their coordination in a natural manner. An athlete can focus on technique and relaxation during free form starts. Speed and efficiency of execution are the primary goal in all free form starts.
2. Medicine Ball Starts
Starts that involve the throwing of a medicine ball in advance of sprinting can be useful for developing starting strength and power through the initial starting movement. The medicine ball can be between 4 and 12 lbs providing a suitable amount of loading through the initial movement. The weight of the medicine ball should be heavy enough to provide an external load without impeding the speed of the starting movement. And, the initial push out of the start is loaded with the strides involved in the acceleration phase unloaded, allowing the athlete to focus on speed of movement and relaxation.
3. Resisted Starts
Resisted starts involve external resistance applied throughout the duration of the entire start and most, if not all, of the acceleration distance. This resistance is commonly applied through the use of a dragging sled or resistance bands. Not only do resisted starts build starting strength, but also reinforce optimal posture and drive angles through the duration of the acceleration distance. It is important to ensure that the resistance applied during these starts is not excessive, significantly changing posture, limb mechanics and ground contact time.
4. Obstacle Starts
Obstacle starts incorporate quick evasive movements with acceleration to simulate patterns of movement encountered in sporting scenarios. Vertical objects placed in the path of the athlete can necessitate horizontal deflection or vertical deflection in prior to their primary acceleration phase. These obstacles are placed in the initial vicinity of the start, requiring the athlete to perform agile movements or jumps in a very short time span. These movements are followed by a linear acceleration over a set distance. It is important to avoid over-cluttering the start with too many obstacles, resulting in an unrealistic scenario.
The intent of this video is not to provide a cookie cutter or paint-by-numbers approach to improving starts and acceleration. The idea is to provide coaches and athletes with guidelines and progressions for using various starting methods to improvement movement efficiency, starting strength, acceleration power and overall speed. Depending on the abilities of the athlete, the phase of development and the emphasis in your training program, you may decide to use different starting strategies. And, you can add some variety to help stimulate enthusiasm amongst your athletes and make your workouts a little more interesting.
This video resource is offered via digital download or as a hard copy DVD. For more information on “Start Mechanics and Training Applications” please visit www.strengthpowerspeed.com.