How To Run Faster | Linear Acceleration Drill
The drill demonstrated in this video, called the Linear Acceleration Drill, can help athletes develop explosive speed during the dig phase of the sprint, and can develop the muscles of the legs and core that contribute to balance and stability during high speed runs. This drill will be supported by the assistance of the Reactive Stretch Cord. Athletes who engage in any sport that involves linear sprinting will benefit from this drill, and since this session only takes a few minutes and very little equipment, it can be worked into the beginning, middle or end of any regular practice session.
The Linear Acceleration Drill: Setting Up the Drill
The most important equipment for the Linear Acceleration Drill is the Reactive Stretch Cord, a long flexible cord that will be clipped to an Adjustable Belt around the athlete’s torso using the D-ring. The Adjustable Belt should not be positioned too loosely. If the Adjustable Belt and the Stretch Cord are properly in place, the D-ring will be at the very front and center of the athlete’s torso. If the D-ring and the Stretch Cord are centered, the resistance will directly target the athlete’s center of gravity.
Athletes should also secure the Anchor Strap to the Reactive Stretch Cord. The Anchor Strap can then be utilized to provide enough weight and resistance to maintain stability as the athlete extends the cord to a distance of 20 feet.
This drill will also require three speed and agility cones set in a line just over ten feet apart. For safety, the Reactive Stretch Cord should not be stretched beyond this distance, but to maximize the benefits of the drill, the two cones at either end of the row should be placed at the full 20 feet.
How to Run Faster and Improve Linear Acceleration: Executing the Drill
Once the Reactive Stretch Cord is clipped in place and the athlete’s partner is holding the Anchor Strap and standing at the end of the line of cones, the drill can begin. At the starting signal, the athlete will dig down and sprint at full speed from the first cone to the second. After reaching the second cone, the athlete will stop and backpedal back to the first cone.
After backpedalling all the way back to the first cone, the athlete will change direction again and sprint all the way to the third cone. Then finally, the athlete will backpedal all the way back to the first cone again.
The execution of this first phase is simple, but close attention to technique will help runners maximize the value of the drill. During the dig phase, runners should keep the center of gravity low and the chest forward. The knees should drive toward the cones, and the arms should stay engaged and in full motion during the entire length of the sprint.
Athletes should complete three to six resisted sets of the first modification before moving onto the second phase of the drill.
The Linear Acceleration Drill: Second Phase
The second phase of the Linear Acceleration Drill will involve a similar sprint pattern, but in this modified version, the runner will backpedal toward the first cone, then sprint in a forward motion back to the starting point. At the starting cone, the athlete will switch direction again and backpedal at full speed toward the third cone. Once he reaches the cone, he will lean forward and dig into the forward sprint one more time, working with the resistance of the Reactive Stretch Cord on the sprint back to the first cone.
In this second modified version of the drill, the athlete will be maximizing the benefits of the Reactive Stretch Cord. The Reactive Stretch Cord will allow the player to leverage overspeed technique and training, in which the athlete accelerates forward and focuses on stride frequency.
The Linear Acceleration Drill: Active Anchoring
Much of the value of this Linear Acceleration Drill will come from having an active anchor, so the role of the partner holding the Reactive Stretch Cord Anchor Strap will be very important. If the anchored partner sees the sprinting athlete over-striding or putting on the brakes because the resistance of the Reactive Stretch Cord is too strong, the partner can react and accommodate. In order to increase the value of both Reactive Stretch Cord and the drill, it will necessary to loosen the resistance by maintaining a flexible foundation and taking a few steps toward the runner. The partner shouldn’t move so close that the resistance is completely diminished, but there should be an element of reactivity and flexibility in this role.
For less advanced sprinters who are learning how to run faster, partners can be more flexible and the cones can also be placed closer together. For more advanced runners, the partner can maintain a slightly more stable position and provide a greater degree of steady opposition. Both advanced and beginning sprinters should focus a high level of attention on the beginning of the backpedal or return sprint, when the resistance is at its highest. This is when the dig phase will be the most important and stride frequency will be the most challenging.
As with the first phase of the Linear Acceleration Drill, the modification should involve three to six resisted sets in a continuous round, with no rest breaks in between each rep.