Author Topic: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness  (Read 6920 times)

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Offline coachgregory

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Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:14:01 PM »
Probably the biggest thing you can do for your team is to work on their athletic development.  In simple terms making them better athletes...it is good for them, good for the team, and good for you as a coach.  You want players, and more importantly parents, to buy into what you are selling as a coach then making their kids better on an individual level is one way of doing it.

I am going to go over how I work on improving a kid's general speed and quickness.  Bear in mind this is for childern, not kids that are in our hitting puberty as things change at that point.  This is all form, pattern development, and focus.

1st thing - upper body form - young kids hardly ever use good upper body form and this is one of the biggest factors affecting poor running with kids below the age of 11.  They often run stiff and don't learn to relax their body, especially their upper body.

2nd thing - proper stride and foot placement - most kids short stride/chop their strides down, don't lean into their runs, and their feet land incorrect causing breaking as they strike the deck.

3rd thing - knee and elbow pattern drive...this is fixable issue and most kids once they learn how to drive their knees and elbows towards the finish point really began to understand how to explode to their finish.

4th thing - starting...most kids have poor, sloppy, slow starts.  They need to learn how to get into an explosive starting position and then how to explode out of that start with good lean and fast cranking of arms and legs.

I will discuss all four of these things in this thread in the next few days.

Jack

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Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2014, 03:41:12 PM »
1st Thing - easiest thing to fix and see an immediate gain is upper body form.   Fix this issue and a kid's speed can increase based on how bad their form really is.  If a kid has really bad form then the increase is going to be big...small flaws in upper body form then you will see a small gain. 

NOTE:  If you are looking at a kid for draft purpose/eval purposes if you are looking at a FAST KID with bad upper body form...draft him.  Once you fix those issues he will be even faster...  Often times coaches draft kids that are fast and assume there is nothing to fix find a kid that is fast and as some flaws get them fixed and you have a faster kid.  Often times in drafts I will draft size/athletic abililty first knowing there are several kids that are fast with flaws that I can draft in later rounds.

If I recall correctly a good deal of this is posted in DC's 46 manual under his speed section.  This information has been modified a bit over time as I have improved on it but the core of it is still the same. 

This all falls under RUNNING FORM:

Upper Body Form:

We do a RUNNING FORM SEGEMENT in our practice at the beginning of pre season/conditioning and we also include at least one RUNNING FORM SEGMENT each week in season as well that we swap out with another segment.. 

For this age group we do ARMS (upper body),

Start with ARM FORM
1) Have them sit down with their legs straight out in front of them and feet together and facing straight up. Back and head need to be straight but relaxed. Shoulders need to be back and both arms should start with the hands out, elbows in to side, hands relaxed, thumbs flat, fingers slightly curled (not straight but not clenched). Both forearms are parallel (90 degrees) to the ground at this point. Now at your pace (you will be standing in front of them), have one arm drive up so that your finger tips break above the nose line and the opposite hand drives behind the hip. You need to stress that they do both too...most kids will do one and not the other. Go slow and go through the rotation. Stop, shake their arms out, and then repeat it again. This is a very slow pace so that they can feel the arm swing.

Coaching que - thumb to nose - finger to hip
Coaching note - you want them to drive the elbow up and towards their finish point - the elbow when up should not be pointed downward but at the finish mark.

Make sure they keep their bicep against their sides, arms don't cross the body (line from the belly button to the nose)...some kids will have their arms go inside the torso and that is fine as long as they go in and up and never cross the line (Right hand to left shoulder and vice-versa.).  By having the bicep stay against the side and brush the side it ensures they are not crossing over.  The reason you don't want the arms crossing the centerline is it causes breaking from the body twisting.  A lot of kids run using a crossover arm movement.  Fixing this stops the breaking which increases their speed (by a lot).  A kid that runs fast and is crossing over is probably a very strong kid as he is overcoming his own breaking...fix the breaking increase the speed!

Make sure they fully extend to the nose and past the hip... This drill is to teach the basic pattern, create muscle memory and for you to see exactly what they doing wrong.  The upper body and lower body operates in sync with each other and the stride length of the arms as well as the form of the arms affects the stride length and form of the legs.  If you fix the arm form often you also fix a lot of problems with the stride length and form.  In this case if the are not turning over their arms fullly it will cause the stride length to shorten as well.  On that note excessive crossover can cause the lower body specifically the feet to turn in and if the runner is running with those crazy gorilla swinging arms that go outward that can cause the toe to turn outward as well. 

Make sure they relax their body when they run..  Tell them to drop their jaw and let it hang.  Relax the hands, neck and shoulders.  If they stiffen the jaw it causes the neck and shoulders to stiffen..  If they run stiff they actually have to work harder and their turnover and stride will be robotic and stiff.  They must learn to breath and relax when they run.

2) Now have them do the same thing, but they will go at slow pace on their own as you watch them. 20 seconds of cranking stop them, correct them, repeat it.

3) Now have them do it hard and fast for 20 seconds. As if they are sprinting to check it at full speed. Some kids will do it right in slow motion and do it wrong at full speed.  That is fine that is their body needing to learn the movement pattern and adapt so slow them down to the point they can do it right and work up to full speed.

4) Now have them stand up so that their feet are under their arm pits with good posture.  What you now are checking for is excesses twisting. Again they need to relax their upper body, relax their face and hands.  Any twisting that is easily noticable/not smooth I would consider excessive.

Repeat steps 1 to 2. Then have them do a 3rd set but this time you have them go slow and on CRANK they crank their arms as if sprinting until you say JOG. Crank them for about 3 to 5 seconds. Go for 1 minute and get about 3 to 5 cranks into the segment.

That is how we work on upper body and arm form.

Jack

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY-eLrbvbxg
« Last Edit: December 29, 2014, 12:11:19 AM by coachgregory »
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Offline Dimson

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2014, 04:00:26 PM »
Awesome. This should help my kids, especially my son. I think he inherrited walking/running form. :(

Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2014, 08:23:55 AM »
2nd thing - proper stride and foot placement

Once you improve and fix arm movement and upper body flaws that will often fix a lot of issues with the lower body but that is not always the case if there are biological flaws in the lower body caused by variations in growth and development.

If you watch a kid sprint down a straight line from the back and the side you should see a clean, smooth gate with very little bouncing or irregular ground contact.

This is caused because the arm and foot stride are in sync and they are driving with full rotation.  The feet are clawing the ground with the ball of the foot and there is no heel contact being made due to proper dorsi-flexion of the foot (lifting the toe as you claw the ground).  The big toe should be in line with the instep as the foot strikes the ground making a line to the finish mark.  Bear in mind that when you are sprinting you are often taking on about 6 to 8 times your weight in force on your lower body.  WHen you are sprinting through the balls of your feet you are helping your lowerbody absorb the shock/force through the entire joint complex of each leg..  If you are making contact through the heel you basically eliminate the ankle joint as the first and primary shock absorber forcing the knee and hip to consume a larger volume of force in an manner that the body is not used to absorbing.  So not does it increase your ability to gain maximum speed and sustain that speed it also helps to reduce injuries to the lower body.

If the heel is hitting the ground or the runner doesn't have toe to instep alignment on contact this will cause breaking which will slow the runner each time he makes contact.  Meaning he will never get to full speed due to improper foot to ground contact.  This can happen during growth spurts when the bones start to grow which causes the muscles and connective tissue to be stretched often causing the foot to turn inward or outward.  This is easy to fix by doing some passive stretching when relaxing if you suspect it is a growth spurt issue.  When they are seated or when lying down on your back simply turn the leg/foot inward (if it is a outward issue) or outward (if an inward issue).  This will help to stretch the connective tissue, muscles, and fascia and realign the leg.

Lower body Drills -

Everything is done at 20 yards with a form run back (50% speed).  On all of these drills make sure you stress proper dorsi-flexion, foot to ground contact, and toe to instep alignment.

Slow motion run - form run focusing on proper arm/leg turnover, ball of toe strike, and toe to instep placement.
 
High Knee - focusing on knee/elbow drive to finish point, ball of toe strike, and toe to instep placement.
School Yard Skip - a fast short skip focusing on  focusing on knee/elbow drive to finish point, ball of toe strike, and toe to instep placement.

High Skip - focus on driving the knee and elbow to the finish mark as you propel yourself upwards through your entire joint complex on each leg.  Contact is ball of foot with good toe-instep alignment

Long Skip - focus on driving the knee and eblow to the finish mark as you propel yourself as far as possible through your etnire joint complex on each leg.  Contact is ball of foot with good toe-instep alignment

Skip Kick - focus on knee and elbow drive as you drive the knee up and drive the foot straight out.  Stay on the balls of your feet with good toe to instep alignment.

Form Run there and back four times.
 
This works out to be 8 reps.

This will help to improve elbow/opposite knee rotation/sync.  Help to develop proper stride length, stride frequency, proper ground contact.

Jack
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 08:43:43 AM by coachgregory »
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Offline Ronin

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2014, 04:13:07 PM »
Coach,

Are you going to add the 3rd and 4th things?

Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2014, 12:30:14 AM »
Coach,

Are you going to add the 3rd and 4th things?

Sure.

Let me get them posted.  I got really busy and forgot to get these up.

Jack
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Offline Coach_O

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2014, 01:34:36 AM »
Jack,

On the ball to toe,  is their a video you can show on how the feet lands?  A coach told the twins to make sure all cleats hit the ground. Ball to toe to heel. I'm a bit confused on that. Everything else I get.

Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2014, 12:47:57 AM »
3rd thing - knee and elbow pattern drive...this is fixable issue and most kids once they learn how to drive their knees and elbows towards the finish point really began to understand how to explode to their finish.


The knee and elbow shoud always be driving towards the finish point.  There is a misconception that the knees should drive upward.  This is not the case they should drive towards the finish point.  If you look at a sprinter the knees and elbows drive towards the finish point as the rotate.

The other issue is full extention on the front and back side of the rotation.  If you drive the left knee forward it goes upward naturally and the right elbow drives towards the finish point.  The problem I often see is full extension on the front side and partial extension on the backside of the rotation.  Meaning that in the example above the right knee/foot is not fully extending away from the finish point (opposite direction/full rotation).   The same is often the case in the arm the elbow does not fully extend backwards/opposite direction.  If that is the case this causes the sprinter to shorten his stride length on the backside and it reduces his ability to generate forces as the full extension ont he backside is creating the pushing force as your front side is creating pulling force.  That means your causing rotational breaking...

Lets walk through it...

The sprinter drives his left knee and right elbow fully forward creating pulling force while the the right knee and left elbow drive back creating pushing force.  If the runner doesn't fully extend his back leg and elbow he is going to create breaking because the push/pull effect is not balanced or equal.  It is very common in childern to see them fully extend on the front side and not on the backside...  The other key is arm and leg extension at the same time on both the push (backside) and pull (frontside). 

you can fix this with a variety of wall drills and acceleration drills:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNLxumVRviU  wall drills
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuV9LxlhaU0  form (start and run form breakdown on a linear sprint)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCAY6CjF-o0

Jack
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Offline Ronin

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2014, 08:18:53 AM »
Thank you Coach!  I'm a huge fan, and I appreciate all that you do for youth football!

Offline Ronin

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2015, 05:47:29 PM »
Any chance you can post the "4th thing - starting"?

Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2015, 11:23:51 PM »
Any chance you can post the "4th thing - starting"?

Sure here is the last thing and often the defining moment if a kid will be an impact player on your team when it comes to quickness.

4th thing - starting...most kids have poor, sloppy, slow starts.  They need to learn how to get into an explosive starting position and then how to explode out of that start with good lean and fast cranking of arms and legs.

work starts and work them from a variety of positions. 
1) 2 point sprinter stance - this is the basic stance to start.  Think receiver stance in football.
2) 3 point sprinter stance - at first it sounds like I am getting to technical but I am not...kids need to learn how to come off the ground and into a sprint...especially linemen and defenders who can often find themselves on the ground.
3) prone position to 3 point get off.
4) line backer 2 point stance into a 2 point sprinter stance facing forward and laterally. 
5) anything else you can think of...work the get offs all the the time.

1) FORWARD LEG is the push off leg.  It is the leg that extends the sprinter forward into the sprint. As he does the opposite arm cranks forward explosively (at first I teach them to drive the elbow to the target).  After their arm crank improves I leave it alone.
2) REAR LEG is the drive leg.   It is the leg that drives the knee towards the intended target (not up but to the target).  The opposite arm cranks backwards explosively.
3) The arm crank is like hitting the gas out of the start....crank them fast and crank them correctly (hit the gas!!!(
4) Lean into the start...the eyes should be looking out at ground in front of him as he starts the body should have a slight lean from head to toe as he starts...  As he accelerates the body will stand up.
5) RELAX THE NECK AND SHOULDERS AND LET THE CHIN HANG...will relax the arms for explosive crank.

Jack
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Offline Ronin

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 09:25:43 AM »
Many thanks!  I'm using this information in my Spring Training program.  We had one practice so far and I can honestly say that most of the kids improved their speed on day one by using only the information from your "First Thing" (upper body form). 


Offline ZACH

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 10:22:48 AM »
I spoke the a coach from JMU at AC glazier.

He said its hillarious that coaches teach running form with out equipment on or even with a ball and call it specificity.

There is a time and place... and over all is great for every athlete.  However inconsistent movement patterns due to equipment (off vs pre/inseason) doesnt help.
"Some athletes have division 1 dreams and jv work ethic" - random

Offline coachgregory

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Re: Increasing a young athlete's speed and quickness
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 11:59:11 AM »
I spoke the a coach from JMU at AC glazier.

He said its hillarious that coaches teach running form with out equipment on or even with a ball and call it specificity.

There is a time and place... and over all is great for every athlete.  However inconsistent movement patterns due to equipment (off vs pre/inseason) doesnt help.

young kids need to work on form running simply to improve athletic ability.  I think when you work with them in the specific sport you can also focus on movement with their gear on.
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