Backward sled march is a great lower body strength exercise. We load the sled heavy and pull it backward. We cue our athletes to “push the ground away from you”. Quads and glutes are working hard!
This athlete is getting back into shape after her injury in co-ed soccer a few months ago. She’s coming along nicely and getting stronger each week. We include injury prevention exercises in every session. It’s just part of the training I do with my clients. All of them.
This session: single leg squats for hip stability and glute strength, 1-arm rows (pulling), push ups (pushing), 1/2 kneeling Inline-anti rotation for core, lateral lunges for adductor strength, 1-leg deadlifts for hamstrings and balance, rope (upper body/core…and raising heart rate!), and more. Way to go, Cassidy!
When training young athletes to sprint correctly, I like to use the Dead Leg Run exercise with the mini hurdles. One leg is “dead” and barely moves. We isolate the action on the other leg to emphasize knee drive and triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle. We coach the athlete to drive the knee up and press down hard on the ground with the ball of the foot. After we do the exercise on both legs, the athlete then goes over the hurdles with both (right video) and like “magic” his form is polished, improved, more efficient, more athletic. Good job, Matt!
I like to challenge my young clients with these ladder/hurdle combo drills. I’ve been working with these kids for a while and they definitely have “earned” the advanced drills.
Combining 2 different tools into one exercise is a fun way to change foot/leg “gait”, having to bring your knees up higher over the hurdles, and coordinating the “lead” foot changes. Also, moving laterally yet moving forward/backward is demanding…the kids really have to THINK about what their feet are doing!
When I work with young athletes to help them with their sprinting, I like to use “before/after” videos to show their improvements. So I video them before “coaching” cues, then video them after my coaching.
In the top video (prior to coaching), the athlete is sprinting on his heels. This is very common in young athletes. I tell them, “You’re foot is going “kerplunk” every time it hits the ground!” His foot is actually hitting the ground twice.
In the bottom video, the athlete is sprinting on the ball of his feet. Much better form! This was after heavy sled marching…then light sled running. Using the sled helps to create muscle memory….to “store” good form. (BTW, the athlete had to put on a hoodie toward the end of our session as it got colder!)
To run fast, an athlete needs to run on the balls of their feet. But most young athletes sprint on their heels. Using a sled weighted heavy helps to reinforce good sprint mechanics we want them to have.
By marching with the heavy sled, the athlete presses the ball of his foot forcefully into the ground. Bill Parisi, from Parisi Speed School, says: “An athlete’s ability to accelerate is summed up by their ability to “push”. Objects do not speed up, slow down, or change direction unless they are acted upon.”
Newton’s Second Law states this idea: “The acceleration of an object results from the application of a force”.
So we give the body something to react to: a heavy sled. It takes “force” to get that thing going! And we teach our athletes to “press hard into the ground” with ball of their feet.
When I work with young athletes, I begin each training session with foam rolling, activation, and stretching before we start moving. I call it “movement prep”….prepping the body for the movement to come. Foam rolling can help decrease muscle density and allow for a better warm-up so we start with rolling. Then we use bands and stretches, targeting the hips, hamstrings, quads. I stress the importance of all of this to my athletes, but most–if not all–need to “see” it to believe it.
Here is a split picture of an athlete I worked with recently. I had him do a toe touch first. Then repeated the toe touch after each movement prep exercise.
Left: prior to foam rolling. Middle: after foam rolling. Right: after foam rolling and activation/stretching.
It was a good way to show him the difference each activity makes on his body.
So the next time you exercise, first foam roll….then activate and stretch and see what a difference this “movement prep” makes on your training session.
I train athletes year round. All kinds of athletes…from baseball to soccer to football to tennis. I am even working with a HOCKEY athlete!
I have been working with hockey athlete, Cameron, for a year now. His parents came to me in Spring 2016 and asked me to help Cameron improve his speed and agility. Improving speed and agility helps tremendously with hockey fitness and strength….and overall athleticism.
But, we work on the whole body….doing exercises to increase strength in legs, core, and upper body. These contribute to increases in speed and agility.
Here is Cameron in action doing “skaters” with the ViPR.
Cameron has increased his core strength, as well. The “body saw” (below) is an advanced core exercise. It is harder than it looks!
We also work on power. Here is Cameron doing a upper body power exercise.
This hockey athlete works hard and diligently with me each week. His goal has been to make a premier hockey club team in Dallas. He just got word that he made it! I’m so proud of him! All his hard work has paid off.