Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Harness Drills

A tool I like to employ like many other coaches is harness drills. As I was watching some coaches use these recently I was reminded of the importance of not losing sight of the forest for the trees.

We use various harness drills for acceleration such as marching, skips and runs. The harness is a great tool because the resistance can help teach body position, focus on the drive angle, and even work a little on ground reaction forces.

To effectively teach a good powerline with the body around a 45 degree angle, the partner holding the harness must apply enough force to hold the training athlete steady. Too little resistance and the athlete can't lean.

Unfortunately as I was watching the other day, the athletes were making a common mistake. They were all trying to prove how strong they were and resist when holding with all their might. This often leads to the in the harness trying to overpower them in return using long ground contact times to generate more force.

I also saw another problem whicvh was uneven force. Whether it was kids with arms bent (which causes the arms to straighten and lengthen as the athlete makes ground contact) or the holders were in bad body positions, the amount of resistance was uneven. This makes it very hard for the training athlete to get the right kinesthetic feedback or generate a consistent force pattern themselves.

These are common errors, but the real error was the coaches. Some were actually trying to encourage the resistance to gain a big force production. True, there was a lot of force applied. Unfortunately the rest of the technical model went out the window. The old adage of the 10% rule tries to emphasize the idea of not adding too muich resistance. I disagree with this for acceleration(that's another post), but regardless you can never compromise the basic technical model.

As a coach you have to make sure this is done right. The harness is great beacuse you can have differnet athletes easily focus on different aspects. Force production, contact time, body position, range of motion, direction of force application, etc... but no matter what you can't sacrifice technique for huge force overloads.