I am a big fan of resisted sprints when they are loaded properly. (I prefer weighted sleds over “tubing” because they provide a much more “even” resistance.) Resisted sprints have always gotten a bad rap amongst “speed experts” because all it takes is one popular coach to say he doesn’t like them and then all the other coaches will blindly follow him. I used to be one of the “blind followers”. Then – one day – I decided to experiment with some college athletes (and myself) and draw my own conclusion! The first time I had my athletes perform weighted sled sprints, I couldn’t believe how much they helped when we went back to unresisted sprints. After experimenting with a couple dozen other groups of athletes and experiencing the same results, I was sold! I’ve now been incorporating sled sprints into my programs for about 10 years now.
Anyone who has read my website knows that I place a tremendous amount of importance on the start and acceleration portion of sprints. (Remember that in most sports, athletes spend most of their time in acceleration…they almost never reach top speed!) Here are the three main reasons that I love properly resisted weighted sprints:
- Having weight behind you enables you to lean forward and maintain a proper acceleration lean. Resisted sprints have helped many of my athletes break the habit of popping UP when they fire out of their stance. The weighted sled requires them to fire OUT of their stance (which enables them to cover more ground on their first step).
- The forward body lean that is required to sprint with the sled forces the shins to be in the proper angle during each foot strike. This “positive shin angle” (knee in front of the toe) enables the athlete to apply force BACK into the ground during the acceleration phase; this helps the athlete cover more ground with each step and breaks the habit of overstriding during acceleration.
- Weighted sled sprints overload and strengthen the hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves in a very specific manner. I feel that this strength helps “bridge the gap” from weightroom strength to the specific strength required to overcome your bodyweight and accelerate into a sprint.
*Also note, if you load the sled properly, your athlete’s sprinting form will NOT be compromised! Check out the video below of three of our athletes from this years Combine class. The video shows Syracuse fullback, Tony Fiammetta; USC linebacker, Brian Cushing; and West Virginia guard, Greg Isdaner performing a 20-yard sprint with 45 pounds on the sled. Has the sled drastically hindered their sprinting form??
I will keep everyone posted on the progress of this years NFL Combine/Pro Day class. (We’ve been working around the clock to make sure that this year’s results are the best ever!) In the meantime, check out the below video link; it’s an interesting segment that the NFL Network did on Brian Cushing. It shows you how grueling this process is for these young athletes….and it also shows you what a meat market it is!
‘Tis the season!
Stay tuned for more Combine training news and athlete profiles!