Speed/ Plyometrics/ Conditioning

Top 9 Drills to Improve Acceleration Technique

Utah State running back, Michael Smith, performs the “Prowler march”

In honor of “Combine Training season”, I’ve decided to provide a fool-proof list of drills that have helped us produce some of the fastest football players in the country. All of these acceleration drills are “economical” exercises that are simple to teach and provide fast results! (Speaking of “fast”… I’m going to make this blog post very fast and get right to the point. As many of you know; my time is limited during this time of year :))

So without further ado; here are 9 drills that have worked time and time again with regards to improving 40-yard dash starts and overall acceleration technique & power with our athletes. Incorporate them into your speed training programming and thank me later!

Here’s my Top 9 List (in no particular order)…

#1) Prowler march: teaches proper acceleration lean (at a slow speed so athletes can “feel” it), along with positive shin angle and increases concentric strength/force application

#2) Mountain Climbers into sprint: rehearses the motor pattern of “driving one knee forward (positive shin angle) and fully extending the other leg backward”; my coaching cue for this is “splitting the thighs apart” / improves functional mobility / teaches athletes to fire out low

#3) Push-up starts: teaches athletes to fire out low / helps reinforce positive shin angle when driving out of the push-up position

*Here’s a video showing the first three exercises “in action” with our new group of NFL hopefulls this past weekend…

#4) Jump-back Acceleration Starts: teaches athletes to push off both feet during the start of a sprint

#5) Bounding: improves force application & power / improves functional mobility / reinforces “covering ground” with each foot strike (as opposed to short, choppy steps)

#6) Heavy Ass Sled Drags: teaches proper acceleration angle & force application into the ground at slower speeds (for better learning) / improves concentric strength at specific angles

#7) Prowler and/or Sled Sprints (light/moderate weight): teaches proper accleration angle / overloads specific sprint musculature at higher speeds

#8) Medicine Ball throw into sprint: “momentum” of the throw helps with forward body lean and the feeling of “falling” during the first 10 yards of a sprint / improves overall power

#9) Hill Sprints: increases hip flexor and extensor strength / improves force application during each foot strike


*For those who have been emailing and asking me about posting more videos of this years NFL Combine/Pro Day class — it’s time to start checking our youtube channel on a daily basis! Our Combine program is in full swing and I will be posting more videos and “introducing” you to this years crew in the days & weeks to come! In fact, we already posted our first video of University of Nevada All-American D-lineman, Brett Roy. Brett was the first player to contact me and reserve a spot in my Combine program this year; so I felt it was fitting to feature him in our first video. In case you missed it, here you go…

Brett Roy + DeFranco’s Training = Scary.

Once again, we have attracted an “interesting” bunch 🙂

Keep checking back to learn more about these athletes and their training as they prepare to play on Sunday’s…

‘Tis the season!!

-Joe D. 

P.S. Drop me a comment below and let me know what you think of my “TOP 9 LIST”…..or share YOUR favorite drills for improving acceleration mechanics.


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