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Lineal Speed with Velocity Changes - A Necessary Football Acquisition

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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Lineal speed has a value to football speed. In fact learning to run properly for football speed must begin with lineal work. Once the lineal performance is sound then you can begin displacing momentum for football speed requirements. Lineal speed can be applied in certain ways on every play. When coaches look at lineal sprint speed they think of longer distances at maximum velocity rather than shorter bursts of acceleration. To reach maximum velocity it takes 40 - 50 yards for most young athletes. For elite athletes who can sprint well, it will take 55 - 70 yards. Lineal in football is usually channeled to the forty measurement. Itís not a flawless measurement by any means since the short distance doesnít allow for maximum speed capacity. It does, however, provide timed speed comparisons to one another, and numerous years of testing have quantified it as a normal standard system for comparison purposes.

Football Requires More
than Pure Lineal Velocity

Just pure acceleration over 40 - 50 yards is not a common application for most plays during a game. Varying bouts of burst, deceleration and reacceleration are more common. The distances most utilized are 5, 10, 15 yards predominately. The forty doesnít address these concerns which is why, in my opinion, it is a poor indicator of football speed. Some universities, like Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State and others, are now interested in the hundred meter times for skill position athletes.
The testing of lineal speed over the last forty years leaves us with statistics that indicate how we start and accelerate at a given distance. The game and the forty are not totally synonymous when performing velocity changes. Lineal velocity changes require technical skill adaptations that demand movement control capability. Anytime an athlete changes velocity the mechanical functions at the moment of change will vary immediately.

Lineal Speed Must Contain
Variable Skills

Lineal speed work should be focused on quickness, burst and short-range acceleration at varying lengths. Categorize your lineal speed and speed changes for bouts of speed work specific to game usage. The forty training is perhaps test comparable but not field-speed accurate for making speed change variations. Lineal speed skills should be comparable to game skills. When velocity changes occur, the first thing to be disturbed is the ability to reproduce maximum force again. Secondly, upper and lower limb synchronization most often declines at the beginning of force generation. All speed changes have to rely on cyclic rhythm. The lineal speed changes are the easiest compared to angle changes. When you sprint lineally, everything tracks straight forward. When momentum is displaced, mechanical execution takes a hit. The reason is simple. Limb rotation and synchronization require sustained frequency during velocity displacement. If the limb frequency is altered the velocity will also change. Arm rotation controls leg cycle, if it changes so will the velocity. The result is a disruption to mechanical efficiency. One must train to counter innate reactions that are ingrained. They will reduce the ability to maximize transitional speed.

Key Ingredient for Lineally
Velocity Changes

Although we can develop power, which is paramount to force application, itís a major key for movement and transitional velocity on the field. Technical position of the bodyís center of mass to foot strike during deceleration and acceleration is the foundation for controlling velocity changes. Arm rotation controls leg cycle function but synchronization suffers if upper and lower rotation donít remain synchronized when lineal speed changes vary. Drills and diagrams have been provided to help with skills on this subject.

Pedal to the Metal or Not?

Yes on certain training aspects, no on others. We must run fast, although we must pick our battles wisely. First, we must understand that less is more and more is less. Last month a PAC 10 university conducted a football clinic for coaches. During the course of events the head coach and his strength coach indicated in the beginning of their sessions that less was more. It is good to see coaches understanding the important characteristics of correct training applications for quality not quantity.


Diagram #1

Burst five yards at 100%, decel for five yards by decelerating the arm rotation. Continue the aforementioned process as described every five yards.
The key is to keep the eyes forward at all times and decel the arm rotation and re-activate at the next cone, which indicates a new behavioral physical application.

Diagram #2

80% to 100% as indicated in the diagram. On decel phase, shorten arm rotation to control decel and leg activity.

Diagram #3

As is described, (shoulder rotation aggressive), 100% sprint, (sprint), to lateral and then back to sprint. Continue this action until series is successfully completed.

Diagram #4

Sprint ten yards at 100%, decel for five yards, burst accelerate 100% again for ten yards. Repeat once again. Key focus is to turn over frequency with intensity on sprint burst phases.

Diagram #5

Burst accelerate ten yards. Donít use the word explode when talking speed and acceleration. Explosion suggest a one time activity with zero succession or continuation. Running is a non-stop activity of cyclic power and force. Words contaminate pictures. Decel for five yards, and then switch to lateral run for five yards, plant burst to a 100% speed increase sprint through fifteen yards.

Diagram #6

Forty-five degree angles three yards in length, (60%), plant and accelerate to 80% for five yards. Plant again at CME and burst to 100% for ten yards. Decel straight five yards, burst three plants, continue five, plant, ten hard again. u


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