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Speed Training Program for High School Football Players

Abstract

The objective of this program was to improve the 40-yard sprint time in junior varsity  and varsity high school football players. A 4-½ week speed-training program was designed for  38 high school athletes. The athletes participated 3 days per week in the program. The program consisted of specific form running on a 40-yard course at various downhill degrees of slope in addition to the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training. Each participant was timed on a flat track prior to the start of the training program and upon its completion. The overall results showed an average decrease in time in the 40-yard sprint of 0.188 seconds (range +0.01 to -0.9). All but 5 participants demonstrated an improved time.  These results suggest that a standardized training program emphasizing acceleration, starting ability, stride rate, speed endurance, and stride length can improve performance in the 40-yard sprint.

Speed Training Program for High School Football Players

Football is a game that requires skill and speed. Speed is the ability to perform a movement within a short period of time (Neiman, 1995). Speed training is an important football related skill related component of physical fitness which enables a player to move from one point to another with faster response time. It has been shown that to improve speed each athlete needs to work on acceleration, starting ability, stride rate, speed endurance, and stride length (Mackenzie, 2001).  To measure the affect of structured training on young athletes, a training program was carried out over 4 ½ weeks.  A seven-step model developed by Dintiman, Ward, and Tellez (1998) was adapted for this program. The steps in this model are listed in Table 1. These steps were incorporated through stretching, downhill running, and agility exercises. (See Table 3)

Methods

Participants

This training program was tested on 38 young male high school  players who played junior varsity and/or varsity football.

Procedures

At the start of the training program, each player was timed running a 40-yard sprint on a straight flat track.  Each player's time was measured and recorded using a manual stop watch.

During Week One, in addition to the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training,

twelve 40-yard sprints were ran on a straight flat surface on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

During Week Two, participants ran twelve 40-yard sprints downhill at an 8 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training, keeping to the 3 day a week training schedule.

The third week involved running the twelve 40-yard sprints downhill at a 16 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training on Monday and Wednesday. On Friday and the following Monday of  the fourth week, the players ran the 40-yard sprint downhill at a 24 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training.   On Wednesday and Friday of the fourth week, the players ran the 40-yard sprints downhill at a 32 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training. On the last day of training, prior to timing the players progress, they ran  downhill 40-yard sprint with a 40 degree slope.

Results

On the next training day, the participants were timed running the 40-yard sprint on a flat surface. Each time was measured using a manual stop watch. Their overall time improved by 0.188 seconds (range +0.01 to -0.9 seconds). The results are listed in Table 2.

Discussion

This program incorporated the  ideas from Secrets of Russian Sprint Training (Occhipinti, 2001). The program's focus was to train the body beyond its normal capacity. The overall goal was to improve speed. This program was carried out over an eight week program. The speed work was performed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the weight training days being scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It was important that the athlete  warm - up and work on flexibility to reduce the chance of injury throughout the program.

The football program was incorporated into this format with a shorter training cycle. As a result, the football program demonstrates that downhill sprints help improve leg speed. The participating athletes improved their stride rate, stride length, and speed endurance over the 4 ½ week training program as measured by their improved times in the 40-yard sprint. This indicates that this type of speed training program will be successful in reducing times in the 40 yard sprint. 

 

Table 1.
Speed Training Steps

STEP 1: Basic training. this step develops all qualities of human movement to a level that provide a solid base on which to build each successive step. It includes programs to increase body control, strength, muscle endurance, and sustained effect.

STEP 2: Functional strength and explosive movements against medium to heavy resistance. Maximum power is trained by working in an intensity range of 55 to 85 percent of your maximum intensity (1RM).

STEP 3: ballistics. This step focuses on high speed sending and receiving movements.

STEP 4: Plyometrics. This rep focuses on explosive hoping, jumping, bounding, hitting, and kicking.

STEP 5: Sport loading. This step focuses on precision loading at high speed. The intensity is  85 to 100 percent of maximum speed.

STEP 6: Sprinting form and speed endurance. This step focuses on sprinting technique and improving the length of time you are abler to maintain your speed.

STEP 7: Over speed training. This step involves systematic application of sporting speed that exceeds maximum speed by 5 to 10 percent through the use of various over speed training techniques.

Table 3.
Speed Improvement Drills

1.     50-yard progressions: begin with a light jog, progressing up to 40 percent of maximum speed for the first 25 yards; then progress up to 60 percent of maximum the last 25 yards. Repeat the previous exercise four times, progressing as follows:

                                       First 25 Yards...Second 25 Yards

            Second run:        50% max speed..70% max speed

            Third run:           60% max speed..80% max speed

             Fourth run:        70% max speed..90% max speed

            Fifth run:            80% max speed..100% max speed                                     

2.       High knees: upright body position, good running form, emphasis on exaggerated knee lift at least parallel to the ground, Drill: Distance of 25 yards, 3 reputations, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

3.     Butt Kicks: kick heels to buttocks in rapid secession using lower leg action only for the recommended distance. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

4.     Crazy legs: Straddle on imaginary line and step laterally (sideways) right foot over left, left over right, etc. while moving in place. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

5.     Power Slides: stand erect, feet together. With left foot, step to your left, really stretching out. Now slide the right foot to the left foot, maintaining contact with the ground. Repeat drill starting with the right foot. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 4 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

6.     Carioca: shoulders square, bring feet together and move laterally using a cross over step for the recommended distance. Drill: distance of 25 yards 4 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

7.     Quick feet: quick feet drills are just fast carioca. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

8.     Jumping: stand erect; jump up and touch your chest with your knees. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

9.     Bounding: keeping your feet together, make giant forward hops. The emphasis in bounding  to gain maximum height as well as horizontal distance. Pump your arms as you bound forward. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

10.    Power skipping: high knee skip. Use exaggerated forward skipping motion. Left knee, right arm up. Right knee, left arm up. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

11.    Sprinting: all out sprints. Drill: distance of 50 yards, 5 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

Adapted from Phelps, Scott 2000, Speed Training.

By:

Michael Gray, Ed.D.
Jessica A. Sauerbeck, B.A.
Northern Kentucky University

 

Squatting Technique

In disproving the more persistent myths about squats, we’ve exposed some of the more important points off proper technique. For example, it’s clear that there are several ways to perform the squat, but you must identify your training objectives for the cycle you’re in before choosing the technique.

Powerlifters, for instance, use a technique during competition that in no way resembles the one bodybuilders or athletes should use in training. But non-powerlifters are often guilty of mimicking that contest technique because more weight can be hoisted. The feet are spread beyond shoulder width, and the thighs barely break parallel when the lift is completed. The bar is carried as far down the back as rules permit, just below the deltoid muscles, and a considerable amount of forward lean is used to allow the legs to share the load with the gluteus and hamstring muscles. The weight distribution and better leverage afforded by the bar position and wider stance allow the powerlifter to squat with as much as 20 percent more weight than the upright technique allows.

Athletes have their own particular way of squatting, although the difference is not so much in position as it is in speed of movement. Athletes interested in developing explosive power (for jumping, running, kicking, tackling and the like) typically use explosive movements in their weight training, particularly in squatting.

This is referred to as compensatory acceleration training, and it requires that maximum effort be exerted against the bar throughout the entire range of motion. For example, near the top of a squat movement, the weight is easier to move because of improved leverage. Athletes compensate for the improved leverage by accelerating the bar, thereby applying maximum overload in the full range of motion. Such explosiveness also leaves you with an amount of learning-- training explosively literally teaches the athlete to be more explosive.

So what constitutes good squatting technique? This booklet sets down the important points of proper squatting form for athletes in all sports. But the theory behind the technique tips isn’t all that simple. For example, what about the isolation principle? This important theory states that it will be easier to apply adaptive overload if a muscle is isolated. Implicit is the notion that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Relating this analogy to anatomical terms, if a group of muscles act to move a weight, the strength of the movement can be measured by the strength of the weakest muscle in the group. While the stronger muscles in the group may get some benefit, the overall gain to the group will be minimal.

This would appear to be a strong argument in favor of the leg curl and leg extension exercises over squats for overall leg development. But is it really? Because of the peculiar arrangement of the leg muscles’ insertion and origin points (three of the quadriceps and 2 of the hamstrings span two joints, the hip and knee), it’s impossible to get sufficient intensity of effort during maximum isolation movements, such as leg curls and leg extensions. The leverages involved in squatting generate more intensity of effort than do the isolation movements, and overload is more easily achieved. It takes both intensity and isolation to maximize the benefits of overload. The squat’s efficient mix of isolation and intensity will yield improvements in both size as well as strength much faster than will any other leg exercises.

Source: Frederick C. Hatfield PhD. MSS International Sports Science Association

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