Lean Into Speed: Mastering the 45-Degree Body and Shin Angle for Acceleration
Some might refer to it as "quick-burst," or "first step explosiveness."
We often hear, "my athlete is fast when they get going, it's the start or the first few steps that they struggle with."
First, the definition of Acceleration: To reach the maximum #speed in the shortest distance and time possible.
There's 4 main focal points that we coach when teaching Acceleration. This blog post will highlight one of them: getting into a 45 degree body and shin angle.
Being that we work with athletes as young as 7, we don't expect them to get into the 45 degree angle right away. In fact, this process can take years. However, our first goal is to teach them this focal point and make them aware of the value of the forward lean when first accelerating.
We begin by getting the athlete into a 45 degree position. Repeatedly getting the athlete's body angle into a forward lean helps to reinforce the pattern that the athlete needs to learn. From there, we begin to add speed.
Exercises that we use to help athletes get into a 45 degree lean:
1) Wall Drive series
2) Resisted A Skip & March
3) Resisted Thigh Drive
4) Sled Drags
5) Variety of starts
6) Ohm Run starts
7) Short hill sprints
We often notice that while athletes and coaches are aware of acceleration based drills, the exercises are not integrated into a recipe or program or a system of coaching acceleration.
To help the athlete effectively learn this skill, sessions are broken up into 4 quarters.
After our Active Dynamic Warm, athletes begin by performing an anchor drill, for eg - Wall Drives, they then progress into the application phase to reinforce the 45 degree angle.
At the application phase, they might perform a variety of starts. For eg, falling or 2 or 3 point starts for 10 yards.
Athletes then go into Q4, to further reinforce this focal point by applying what they've learned by doing timed 10 yard sprints or play a game/challenge that highlights acceleration such as Ball Drop or Cat and Mouse.
As the athlete progresses, we start to do a deeper dive into exercises that improve Pure v Overall acceleration. We add video analysis so that athletes can visually learn and improve. We then provide age-appropriate strength drills based on athlete's development.
Acceleration, just like speed is a skill that can be learned. It's a matter of staying consistent with perfecting the focal points of acceleration.