The 11 BEST Acceleration Drills For Athletes
Acceleration is critical whether you want to dash past your competition, or gain an explosive first step. Hoopers, football players, baseball players, soccer athletes, and more can ALL benefit from acceleration.
Today, I want to reveal the 11 BEST acceleration drills for athletes, so you can get better. Faster. More explosive. Keep in mind, these are the drills I program for my most elite athletes. Guys in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and more. So there’s no doubt they’ll work for you.
The 11 best acceleration drills for athletes are:
- Wall Drill
- Two Point Starts
- Falling Starts
- Jump Back Starts
- Ground Starts
- Kick Up Starts
- Half Kneeling Starts
- Sled Push
- Sled Pull
- Partner Release Starts
- Banded Piston Starts
Each drill has its own specific purpose that I’ll specify below. That way, you can almost plug & play into your workout based on your specific weaknesses.
Acceleration Drills to Raise the Threshold
Raising the threshold refers to increasing the velocity, or amount of force behind each drill. This will allow you to perform each drill with more intensity, and can ultimately help increase the speed at which you accelerate.
In other words, if you’re lacking force production, or moving slowly during the first couple of steps, these acceleration drills could help you out immensely.
Below I’m going to share four acceleration drills that will help you raise the threshold:
1. The Wall Drill
The Wall Drill is one of my go-to’s for raising the threshold of a sprint. This movement is less about working the mechanics of sprint (although there is some carry over), and more about training the sprinting motion at a higher velocity.
This drill works by making the athlete produce force into the wall. That ultimately means that he will be fighting more resistance then he would when he performs a normal sprint. This will help him recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers in this position, and allow him to be more explosive in a normal sprint.
How to Perform the Wall Drill:
Start with your arms extended in front of you slightly below shoulder level. Lean into the wall and walk your feet back until your hands are level with your shoulders. From there pop one thigh up so it is perpendicular to your torso with the foot of that leg dorsiflexed. Perform a quick hip switch where you pop the opposite thigh up then return to your starting position.
Repeat this for your desired reps.
2. Two Point Starts
Two point starts are a standard start. But, if you perform a two point start after performing the wall drill, you can amplify the benefits you receive from this drill.
Let me explain:
After you’ve raised the threshold with the fall drill, and you have the fast twitch muscle fibers excited, you can perform a two point start. The stimulus from the wall drill should “excite” the nervous system and have an acute increase in muscular performance.
You can then use that increase in muscular performance to perform a two point start with more velocity.
How to Perform Two Point Starts
Start in a staggered stance with your power leg in front. If you’re left handed, your power leg is usually your right leg, and vice versa. From there push the hips back and bend the knees slightly. Lean forward and get onto the balls of your feet. Extend the hips pushing off both legs simultaneously pop the rear thigh and throw the arms.
3. Falling Starts
Falling Starts are another drill that will increase the velocity by which you accelerate at. The way this drills works is the athlete uses his reactive power to react to the forces of gravity tipping him forward. This allows for a more powerful first step than could be done with a standard two point start.
How to Perform Falling Starts:
Start with your feet hip width apart, hands by your sides. Get up onto the balls of your feet and tip forward until your about to fall. Catch yourself before you fall and quickly react off the ground and explode into a sprint.
4. Jump Back Starts
Jump Back Starts are another acceleration drill that allows the athlete to use their reactive power as a crutch to move faster in their acceleration phase. Again, this is not a bad thing. It will teach your body to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers and essentially condition your body to move at high speeds.
How to Perform Jump Back Starts:
Start with your feet hip width, arms by your sides. Jump back, keeping your shoulders in the same place and landing with your feet staggered. You should be in a forward lean position. From here, react off the ground and proceed into an explosive sprint.
Acceleration Drills to Sharpen Your Mechanics
The next three drills I’m going to share with you are more mechanical in nature. They take a bottom up approach in that they place the athlete in positions where they have a positive shin angle and torso angles. These are mechanically advantageous positions that will allow you to apply high amounts of force into the ground and move at higher speeds.
5. Ground Starts
Ground Starts will work wonders if you have trouble maintaining the forward lean and forward shin angle while accelerating. This drill essentially forces you into the mechanically advantageous position to apply force into the ground when you perform it correctly. It’s extremely basic, easy to grasp, but hands out powerful benefits.
How to Perform Ground Starts:
Begin on your stomach, hands flat on the ground. Pop up out of this position and get into a staggered stance with your hands still flat on the ground. Extend both hips simultaneously and explode out into a powerful sprint.
6. Kick Up Starts
Kick Up Starts are similar in nature to ground starts. The difference is that there’s an added element of reactivity that will allow you to move at higher velocities than you would with ground starts alone. This is “raise the threshold” effect I spoke of in the previous section combined with a bottom-up mechanical drill.
How to Perform Kick Up Starts:
Start on your hands and feet in a staggered position. Your chin should be tucked and your knees should be slightly bent. Perform a hop with your legs while keeping contact on the ground with the hands. Once the feet make contact with the ground again, react and explode out horizontally.
7. Half Kneeling Starts
Half Kneeling Starts are one of my favorite acceleration movements these days. The main reason for this is that it builds the athlete’s ability to accelerate through an extended range of motion. It also builds power in both legs and puts the athlete in a mechanically advantageous position.
Half kneeling starts produce wins all around.
How to Perform Half Kneeling Starts:
Start in a half kneeling position. The foot that’s flat on the floor should be your power foot. From there, start with your opposite arm by your cheek and drive the knee over the toe. From there, explode off the balls of the feet into an explosive sprint.
Acceleration Drills for Hip Extension
One of the most critical biomechanical mechanisms for acceleration is hip extension. Hip extension uses the muscles of the gluteals to propel the athlete down the field, turf, or field of play. One of my favorite ways to improve the amount of force an athlete produces through hip extensions is with resisted sprints.
Resisted sprints force the athlete into a positive shin angle and forward lean position, and will help improve your force production during acceleration. Below, I’m going to share a two of my favorite acceleration drills that work hip extension.
8. Sled Push
Sled pushes put you in a forward body angle that is critical for acceleration. You’re also working full hip extension to push the sled down the turf. Additionally, sled pushes help your mechanics.
When you’re pushing a sled, you’re not swooping your leg back to prepare for your next stride. You’re stepping over the ankle and driving the knee up.
How to Perform Sled Pushes:
Place your hands on the hand of your sled. Lean forward slightly and try to keep your back flat the best that you can. Extend both hips then flex one hip as you would during your sprint. Place that foot down and repeat as you push the sled for the programmed distance.
9. Sled Pull
The sled pull is similar to the sled push in that it places the athlete in an advantageous position to produce force. Sled pulls also force the athlete to optimize their mechanics to move the weight of the sled efficiently.
Again, these drills are designed to increase your acceleration-specific force production.
How to Perform Sled Pulls:
Place the strap of the sled in your hands and across your lower back. Lean forward slightly letting the weight of the sled keep you in a forward lean position. Flex one hip then place that foot down and step over the ankle with the other leg. Repeat for your programmed distance.
Acceleration Drills for Hip Flexion
Hip flexion is another important mechanism for acceleration. In a sprint, as one hip extends, the other flexes. This hip flexion can be seen in the punching of the knee.
I like to work hip flexion in two ways. The first is to raise the velocity at which hip extension occurs. This will increase fast-twitch activity in the hip flexors.
The next way is to work the mechanics that come along with hip flexion. I do this by placing the athlete into the natural position in which hip flexion will occur.
10. Partner Release Starts
Partner release starts work the velocity of your hip flexion. As your partner holds you in place, you will “rev up” then proceed into an explosive sprint. This will ultimately raise the threshold at which you can accelerate, and in turn, improve your sprinting speed.
How To Perform Partner Release Starts:
Begin with a partners hands on your upper chest. Lean into their hands with them supporting your weight. From there, begin to sprint while he resists you. After three seconds, he should release you, and you will explode down the field into a sprint.
11. Banded Piston Starts
Banded Piston starts are another acceleration drill that will raise the threshold AND work your mechanics. The resistance of the band allows you, the athlete, to stay in your acceleration for a much longer duration than you could without the resistance. So, banded piston starts make you accustomed to being in the proper acceleration position. They also allow you to master the leg action of your acceleration phase.
How to Perform Banded Piston Starts:
Place a band round your waist and have your partner hold it. Your partner should walk back with the band until there’s a good amount of tension on the band. You should then lean slightly into the band and begin to propel yourself down the field as your partner follows behind you, keeping the same amount of tension on the band. Do this for five yards, then have your partner release the band as you decelerate.
See These Acceleration Drills In Action
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