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Speed Report – The Off-Season is Back – Time for Foundation Speed Drills

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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If you’re not moving forward each year, you’re standing still. If you wish to grow, you need to review what you’ve been doing and challenge yourself to do more. I’ve spent 32 years adding something that improves my program to better levels than they were the year before. Sometimes it’s a new system or just tweaking the old one a certain way. Whatever your situation might be, it can always be better, especially when it comes to speed.
    I will give you a few thoughts that can get you started in the right direction to begin this off- season in a productive way. I’ve included some drills and theories for beginning the off-season in a strong, positive manner. Let’s move forward and see if there may be a wrinkle or two that will make 2012 a better year for speed development with your team than last year was.


    The season’s over and a lot of your energy goes into looking at what happened and what could have been better. I work with programs every year, some 0-10, some state champions yearly and many others in-between. Many coaches felt they were just a game or two away from a great season and they still are eager to hit the trail in the off-season and make next year better. That’s the spirit of a champion, no doubt. Remember, being a champion brings a price tag with it. You become the weekly target for everyone you play all year long. Regardless of which situation matches yours, you need to continue to squeeze the grape for more speed juice.


    Speed development must rely on a solid foundation package that stresses basics first, then relies on a progressive plan to move forward systematically. Moving toward high-intense speed and movement training will be productive only if the preceding elements are in place.
    Too often, at the beginning of the season, coaches are in a hurry to get to the speed phase quickly and willing to bypass technical accuracy. If you start with the theory of picking up where you left off, your program will suffer. Mechanics suffer during the season. Every athlete is trying to be aggressive on the field and without a good technical foundation, mechanical function erodes rapidly.
    By starting the off-season with base drill work, you are covering the new athletes and reviewing and sharpening the skills that have dissipated throughout the season. By stressing basics first, you are setting the foundation for the advanced speed development to be introduced later. What amazes me about speed training is that the body is traveling at a high rate of velocity and the limb frequency is at an extremely fast rate of turnover. The frequencies and velocities that you’ll be encountering later when sprinting aggressively are going to be revealing. If you have poor results, you leave too much juice in the speed grape. A very minor mechanical malfunction will alter an athlete’s velocity dramatically. Starting with the basics will monitor the low end of speed movement activity and help prevent this problem.
    Biomechanical movements must be foundationally sound. If they are correct, you’re in business. If not, effort becomes greater than performance. This is why motor patterns must be established at lower frequencies. Remember, high intense speed offers more breakdown issues mechanically because the rate of turnover is off the chart. Conscious thought process can’t control the rapid movement aspects fast enough to provide synchronization and rotational rhythm necessary for maximum efficiency. All this stems back to the beginning. It takes time to be effective and you have the entire off-season to do that. Be patient and thorough and dividends will abound. 

The Real Deal for Foundation Training 

    Here are the major principles of movement that serve as a biomechanical premise for human movement. There are three basic principles: line, synchronization, and foot strike to center.

Line is the leg, torso, and head staying vertically aligned during all running phases.

Synchronization is merely arms and legs synchronizing front to back with correct angles applied by the arm at 90 degrees which will establish the proper synchronization. Then, synchronized upper and lower limb activity allows for better force application.

Foot Strike to Center - When the leg descends towards the ground it must land on the ball of the foot and slightly in front of the hip position. This action gets the leg and foot to come downward to meet the surface as soon as possible. This puts the contact of the foot strike to the ground more often on each stride. This provides for force production more often and establishes greater body control as well.
    These three factors must be executed collectively. Each full stride is taken front to back. All drills must include these biomechanical principles on every step and in the right perspective in order to create opportunity for high frequency to be induced. These functions are performed slower rather than faster over time. Slow teaches placement and control which is being recorded and processed into the neural pattern functionality. If you slowly activate the limb speed with drills week to week and month to month progressively, your players will be mechanically sound. The key is to be a stickler on doing it right every time.

Drills For Foundational Training

    The three core principles previously described, Line, Synchronization, and Foot Strike must be in place on each rotation taken front to back. The drills are in an order and must be executed as they are indicated. Remember, your focus is on Line – Synch – Strike for each drill performed. This series is the foundation drills only, not speed work. Technical application should be what you begin with in January and February. Then, periodization work follows with moving the athletes faster with step 2 - Advanced Velocity Series. 

(20-Yd. Zone from cone to cone) x 3 reps

•  This is a walking procedure, not running.
•  Set position, stand tall, eyes level, split arm front to back, arm 90-degree angle.
•  Release rotating arm action front to back, knee lift slightly below belt.
•  Knee lift up and down, piston action, slow rhythm throughout zone, foot strike down.
•  Focus on 3-principles each rotation taken.

(Same zone set up as above) x 3 reps

•  Same set positioning stance as before.
•  Short high knee run with arms rotating short from the shoulder, rhythmically.
•  Knee lift below the belt, straight up – straight down line, tall and over the knee lift.
•  No leaning back or over rotating arm rotation, eyes remain level.

(Same zone set as before) x 3 reps

•  At the release, your athlete must rotate the arm-leg cycle quick and short immediately.
•  It’s very aggressive turnover, short with locked-in rhythm that maintains through the zone.
•  Eyes stay level, line stays tall – hips up and sustained rhythm is the key.

(Same zone as before)

•  Same set position, release into a high knee run as in drill 2.
•  At 6-7 yds. out, the athlete moves slowly into a stride with easy arm action.
•  The arm action becomes faster each stride after the transition occurs.
•  Same 3 principles remain in place at all times, high knee and strides.

(Same zone as before)

•  Same set position as usual. Release to short quick cycle as before.
•  At 6-7 yds., you’ll make a transition into a stride mode again, slowly activating arm action each stride.
•  Eyes stay level, hips must be up, line straight and tall, arms locked at 90 degrees.
•  Arm turns faster every stride after transition.

Zones - 10/10/15 yds.

    This drill has all three drills incorporated that we’ve already done.
    First zone is high knee run. On the transition to short cycle arm action, become short quick immediately without any change to line – synch. Foot strike will not be an issue because you will be on the balls of your feet.
    Transition to stride, be careful not to over rotate too fast or too long. Arm needs to be the control factor while all other principles hold fast in place.

    These drills should be used one-two times per week. Remember, these drills are designed for mechanical control, foundationally. Be consistent with correct application with all your players.
    Please contact me if you would like more information or if I  can be of help to your program in any way. 

Visit my new web site to learn more about football speed training. A member-based organization, the web site includes many resources you can use to train your athletes –

Dale Baskett began his career as a football speed specialist in 1979. Over the last 32 years he has worked with hundreds of coaches and thousands of players nationwide. He has also trained over 100 NFL players representing every NFL team. Baskett has consulted with the football staffs of numerous colleges throughout the country and has worked with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association and numerous NFL organizations. You can contact him at 858-568-3751 or at


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