Hey everyone, so in the previous article I wrote about the different set positions/acceleration phases and what to look out for. This is important because the athletes ability to produce an optimal performance is based on the acceleration phase. If you get this phase wrong you debilitate the athletes ability to express themselves over 60m/100m/200m and even 400m sprints. In Part 2 I want to look into and discuss how we teach acceleration to our athletes, how we may progress or regress drills to develop the correct and optimal acceleration patterns we are looking to instill in our athletes.

The great Dan Pfaff and Donavan Bailey

The great Dan Pfaff and Donavan Bailey

Teaching acceleration:

We explain how we currently use different methods to teach acceleration through the progression and regression models. Rephrasing that sentence, how we use different methods to draw out the information from the athlete. As they often know what they need to do but don’t  know how  access that information. I feel as coaches that is our role. We either teach the methods or show the athlete how they can use what they already know.

The Wall Drill:

Without Switch:

With Switch:

The wall drill allows the athlete to feel the correct body position while working on correct heel recovery. The athlete starts with slow movement to ingrain the correct movement pattern. Once the athlete has it, we  then look to add a switch to the drill, adding speed to the movement just learnt.

The main difference in our approach to some others, is the drill is of executed standing too upright. Instead,  we encourage a low 45 degree angle and drive. Matching the shins to the body. If movement is sacrificed, I would recommended regressing to slower movement once again.

The Push Up into acceleration:

The athlete starts in a push up position and jumps up, accelerating away when commanded. We use this to teach athlete to strike back and away from the body and encourage lower body angles. Once the athlete know what we are looking for, in terms of feeling, we let them express it in a roll in start. A useful tool with young athletes as it feels just like a game.

Quadruped stance into acceleration:

This is a variant/progression to the above plank stance with a slightly easier exit. It adds variety and can make acceleration a little bit less boring and monotonous. Again useful tool with young athletes as it feels like a game.

Loaded Starts:

Loaded starts

Like the push up start this drill gets the athlete to push away from the body immediately and teaches the athlete good body positions from exit. However, it places more emphasis on the front leg and driving that leg when explosively driving the back leg forward.

Jump Back Acceleration:

This drill allows the athlete to “feel” what it is like loading and pushing off the back foot. Many athletes have no idea how to pre tense the ankle joint in order to explode out of acceleration. When we use this drill the recovery leg seems to come through nice and low, we hardly get a looping foot. Another trick we have learnt is during many of the drills you can tap the back of athletes ankle in order to cue tension( sub cutaneous reactions).

Transition Box:

This a coned out section where the athlete hits step 12-15 steps. We create a box and then allow the athlete to practice that transition in the box. We prefer this method of teaching the transition phase because it is athlete dependent and not distance specific. A 10 year old will cover a different amount of ground compared to a 18 year old. Also some athletes transition slightly sooner. We tend to see stronger athletes transition later. We need to remember that if the phases pre-transition are not good enough, then our athletes transitions aren’t going to look good.

Hill training for Acceleration:

run-hill11-620x305Adjusts the athletes body position, shin angles and strike positions through changing the environment rather than the athletes body.  We use this form of training in winter and allows for an environment in which greater adaptations and improvements in general capacity can occur without increased injury risk. Lower impact and injury risk based on soft surface(grass), body position and strike positions (gradient of hill), allow us to use greater volumes. Hill sessions do not match acceleration mechanics exactly, as the athlete strikes ahead of the body slightly more than they would on the track. However, you can still teach “climbing the ladder” with hills.

The Sled, Prowlers and Band Accelerations:


By pushing or pulling an object like sleds ,prowlers, band accelerations, you allow the athlete to make adjustments in body position, shin angles and strike positions. These tool are great because they allow us to load an athlete specifically to the sport compared to more general loading like say a squat or dead lift.  These tools cane be used as transference exercise and can be a great teaching tool for positions we want to see during acceleration.

The Roll in Start:

Roll in start position

The great thing about roll ins are that they allow the athlete to put into practice and express everything they have learnt, while being in a position that they feel comfortable and safe in. Allowing us to solidify skill acquisition. It can also be used as a tool that allows athletes to get more reps in a session if you are working with big groups.

The 3 point Start:


I see these as part of a continuum towards block starts. They put athletes into a more sport specific position, similar to that of coming out the blocks. However, they are harder than roll ins and if athletes struggling, either allow them to learn or if you feel that the process is being hindered then regress. The 3 point allows athlete express what they have learnt in a new set up and exit position.

The 4 point Start and Blocks:


Used in competition phase and the most sport specific position for a track athlete. The hardest variation of starts because of the positions that the body and limbs are put in. Not to mention the amount of force that needs to be exerted when accelerating out of them. This means that you wont get as many reps out of blocks as you may get out of roll ins or 3 points and will need to allow for greater recovery between reps. See part 3 if you enjoyed this article.

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