Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Woodway Speedboard

I have long been a fan of the Woodway FORCE treadmill.  It is a self propelled treadmill. This has been for several reasons;
  • Encourages FOOT CONTACT under COG
  • Allows VIDEO ANALYSIS of multiple strides easily
  • Provides easier accel bounding learning and resisted bounds
  • ...and in the case of a FORCE 2.0 or 3.0 provides data on actual forces and gait analysis between left and right legs
Last year Woodway introduced the SPEEDBOARD.  We  had the chance to recently evaluate it with athletes of different calibers and experience. 

Another self propelled treadmill, this one uses a low friction belt, and curved surface so that no harness is needed.  A bit scary for many when first stepping on, it ends up being very easy to get used to.

We have done some rudimentary video analysis comparing athletes over ground and on the Speedboard.  Although  not complete, I can say that differences in most kinematics are minimal.  Below are some comparison shots.  Although limited by using 60 frames of video, their was not difference in stride frequency in this analysis.



Our coaches have generally found that athletes feel like it "makes them go faster."  In our trials and observations, it seems to encourage better recovery and step over mechanics.   This has been consistent among many different athletes.  Put them on their and we have seen residual phase get cut dramatically and a better step over action.  The step over may be encouraged by the slight angle of the tread in front, encouraging them to step up to it. 

One area where we have found we had to really coach well and watch is ground contact.  I encourage dorsi-flexed ground contact and this becomes even more important on the Speedboard.  When coached and executed, ground contact is good and many athletes have actually felt increased gastroc soreness after sessions.  This makes sense as they are making contact with slight angle and therefore potentially loading in a more stretched position.  This would also be something to consider if an athlete is returning from a foot/lower leg injury or has problems there. 

If an athlete tends to overstride and does not understand to try and footstrike under the COG they may be encouraged to overstride or even heel strike in lower level athletes.  The key was coaching.  It is very easy to hear the difference and we found even more than on the ground that if given as a cue, athletes could hear the difference themselves.

These are a bit in contrast to the FORCE treadmill.  I have found it encourages better ground prep and footstrike mechanics by its nature to require additional force production.  Any overstriding on it will not drive the belt backward. 
All in all we are finding it extremely useful. 

  • Takes up a lot less space than 60-100 yards of track/turf. 

  • It allows us to provide video feedback and analysis over multiple strides. 

  • Encourages good recovery mechanics.

  • Allows a natural running motion.

  • Allows IN/Outs indoors

  • Useful for repeat sprint intervals with active running recovery between.


Coach Drew said...

One Coaching tool you might try is to have them run with a mirror in front of them. I find with today's athlete they are such visual learners and they are able to correct themselves during the movement.

Coach Drew Heard
Athletic Republic of North Louisiana

Coaching Staff said...

Great point about visual feedback and learning. I actually prefer feedback on the kinematics from the sagittal plane so we set a camera up on the side and use dartfish.