Sunday, February 15, 2009

40 Yd Dash Training Tools

Over this coming week I'll be posting about how we prepare our guys for the 40yd dash at the Scouting Combine. I'll be in Indianapolis with our guys for 8 days so I should be able to find the time.

One of the greatest challenges of preparing athletes for the NFL Combine is that we have such a short time. We need to find those places where we can have the most impact and which drills will be most effective.

One of the areas we can impact the most is the start. We are going to try and build power and impart some basic technique. I say basic because most of the guys never ran track. The mechanics of acceleration in football are generally in contrast to those that are best for the 40yd dash.

One of the common movement strategies is to stay low and to take quick, choppy steps. Great if you are a running back hitting the hole, or a lineman who needs to apply leverage against another 300lb guy, but really ineffective if you need to go straight ahead as fast as possible.

Acceleration bounds are a great tool for these guys. It helps then develop specific leg power and rate of force development. It reinforces applying them in a proper direction and often can help improve the range of motion.

We actually progress those short. choppy step guys using some 3pt starts directly into an acceleration bound. Though its an exaggeration, it helps them learn about building a drive phase. We do this as a contrast drill and progress towards an optimal 3pt start and first ten yards.

Some guys struggle with achieving a technically proficient bound however from a motor control standpoint. This is especially true for many of our "big uglies", the 300 lb linemen.

We have the FORCE treadmill from Woodway and its a great tool to help this. As you can see in the video below, it takes away some of the challenges and lets the athlete focus on 3 of our 4 main points; Big Force, Proper Direction, and Optimal Range of Motion.

We can add a significant load if the athlete can handle it since the FORCE has adjustable resistance. To facilitate motor learning we use it in a contrast method, where we go and do 10 yard starts after a few reps, and repeat this several times.

I find it very effective. We see instant improvements in fewer steps over ten yards, faster times, and a better drive action in the initial 1-4 steps. Then we have to keep reinforcing it and make sure they do it when the pressure is on.