Coaching Field Movement Patterns

ACCELERATION

Training Acceleration

ACCELERATION VS MAX VELOCITY?
Sprinting can be broken up into two distinct phases of running: The acceleration, and maximum velocity. Acceleration is the phase where an athlete is accelerating and building towards their top speed. The factors responsible for good acceleration performance are similar but not identical to maximum velocity performance, additionally the technical aspects of each are also significantly different. Hence in this module we will focus specifically on acceleration, while the next module will focus on maximum velocity.

WHY IS ACCELERATION IMPORTANT?
Acceleration is ​an essential aspect of nearly all sports where getting from point A to B as quickly as possible is important. This is especially true in sports where the distance from A to B is quite short and you're unable to reach maximum velocity. Having a good acceleration ability will allow an athlete to close down these shorter distances faster than an athlete with poor acceleration ability. In most sports, being able to accelerate faster will put the athlete in an advantageous position with either a) more time in that position to make a decision or complete an action without opposition pressure, or b) a greater likelihood of beating an opponent to the ball or other event and therefore controlling the ball or event.

WHAT PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS ARE REQUIRED FOR GOOD ACCELERATION PERFORMANCE?
During elite acceleration, an athlete's ground contact times are usually around 200-300ms, hence an athlete needs to be able to apply sufficient force to accelerate themselves during this time period. Hence an athlete needs to be able to produce as much whole body extension force as possible in 200-300ms, whilst also being able to reposition their swinging leg and arms in anticipation of the next step. To be able to produce this extension force, significant hip/knee/ankle extension power is required, which is produced by the glutes, quads, and calves respectively. Strong hip flexors are also required to reposition the swinging leg in front of the body ready for the next step. Arm/shoulder/core power is also essential, however rarely is shoulder/arm/core power a limiting factor of acceleration performance.

​WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS REQUIRED FOR GOOD ACCELERATION PERFORMANCE?
#1 Forward lean
- To ensure our athletes to apply force horizontally​
#2 Big arm/thigh separation
- To ensure a complete push and complete knee drive​
#3 Near-complete whole body extension
- To ​ensure a complete push​

HOW IS ACCELERATION PERFORMANCE TRAINED?
Basic acceleration runs MUST always be included. Running fast is the best way to get better at running fast! Accessory work can include:
- Resisted sprinting​
- Hill runs
- "Slow" Plyometrics
Technical development (described below) is also important to ensure that athletes are applying forces as "optimally" as possible, however this is no small task and requires considerable skill and effort!

HOW CAN WE ADDRESS TECHNICAL ISSUES?
A challenging question, and one that takes a lot of experience to get good at. As with everything though, we can use cueing and constraints to influence athlete's movement patterns. A VERY brief summary of how this can be done is as follows:
A) Lack of forward lean
- Cues relating to projecting their hips forward
- Falling starts​ or 3pt starts
- Resisted or hill sprints
B) Lack of arm/thigh separation
- Cues relating to knee/arm drive
- Limb switching drills​
- Bounding drills
C) Lack of complete extension
- ​Cues relating to pushing the ground away
- Bounding drills​
- Resisted or hill sprints

It is beyond the scope of your placement at Rise to become proficient at identifying good/bad technique, and then trying to fix it. However, as with everything the sooner you start looking at technique and experimenting with different cues/constraints the sooner you'll become successful at this task!

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