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AFM Magazine

Speed Report – Useful or Useless Speed and Movement Applications

by: Dale Baskett
Football Speed Specialist
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To bridge the gap between knowledge and application begins with having knowledge on the subject. Many football coaches have a limited knowledge of football speed. That’s not a positive for the athletes they train. However, that can be changed. I’m not trying to be negative or flippant, but I’m offering a challenge. A challenge to spend more time looking outside the box with the methods you’re providing. They may look fine to the untrained eye, but are they really sound for addressing what players need to play fast?

To begin with, you must acknowledge that football speed is reliant upon knowledge and execution application of variable fast movement changes. More specifically, this is biomechanical and physiological knowledge being applied through a sound application system by design. Factual information for determining what is right and what may be incorrect scientifically is most important. The first step is to spend some time studying the factors of proven science. The gap can begin to close if the knowledge that’s acquired through science is being applied well.


Effective techniques provide effective movement results. Many football coaches generally use technical applications they think work for football movement but from a sports science standpoint they are often inappropriate.

Teaching football movements usually referred to as ‘agilities’ can be a loose cannon when movements are multiplicity oriented. Why would I term it in this manner? Football coaches are not supposed to be human movement professors. Therefore, the agility applications are created with football-specific movements in mind in most cases. The shortfall is that a great deal of the technical know-how is from what they perceive as the best way to practice a given drill set using conventional thinking. What happens is the mechanical applications are skewed. That is, fundamental knowledge of how a human creates movement properly with force, power and limb control unfortunately just isn’t there. The reasoning for poor application is football-centered and not science based.

Speed of movement is usually the goal and cloning football specific-movement influences the creative thinking process. Movement patterns used (agilities), are given to you by other colleagues at the major college levels that provide the so-called latest drills ideas that they use. The most common applications are using what your old school did years ago. Now we have the hand-me-down training format which perpetuates the transition of movements that are not useful nor accurate. Once again, another example of how technical ineptness is passed on over time. The sad news is that we have a huge number of football agilities being performed nationally teaching psychomotor learning patterns that are inefficient and incorrect. The major problem with this is that it’s not necessary. Every time I watch practices at schools I’m working with across the nation, I cringe. Players try to move fast but get into poor position that negates maximum transition speed. Transition angles can make the difference for game speed effectiveness.


We must plan out the proper organization of movement skills. Which way is the right way? Once precise patterns of movements are decided on, they are going to be controlled by several factors. Number one is perception. That is, the thoughts and visual pictures employed that trigger the use of an original plan of action to perform the task at hand. The demands of the tasks are usually established by you, the coach, when you design the movement series. Apply easier challenges earlier and then escalate the degree of difficulty week by week. The athletes can then have success while they move forward and get a grip on the foundation of the movements technically. Too often, we want to move our athletes through an agility drill too fast and the learning curve is passed by. You need to move slower for the athlete to feel the control of torso and limb function. The faster an athlete moves, the process of mechanical function dissipates. The mind cannot consciously organize the moving parts rapidly enough to keep the technical application and rhythm sequences of moving parts in an effectively efficient order. Go slow and organize the plan for successful processing of motor skills and not just the cloning of movements. Mechanical methods are always first and foremost and then the speed of playing faster will be rewarded.


When I talk about ‘transition’, I mean the point at which the athlete begins to displace velocity of movement to a new angle. He also might lean slightly away from the trajectory he is using, as well. The prior position the athlete uses before initial transitional movement occurred is critical to the success of the transition itself. For example, the center of body mass must be over the foot strike that’s descending downward to the surface on the last step prior to transition. If the body mass is slightly behind the step as it descends downward, the weight has to shift over the foot strike contact point. This is in order to apply maximal force directly. If that takes place, there will be a slight breaking action of the forces for each step, creating a consistent loss in velocity for each stride.

When we refer to transitions in running, we must first refer to the c/m(center of mass) which becomes the key focus for controlling mechanical execution with velocity. Even though the limbs are moving at high frequency levels, the center of control must be in place for maximal frequency and arm-leg synchronization to take place successfully. The line, (leg, torso, and head) must be aligned as force is applied to the ground on each step. This will allow the athlete an opportunity to utilize arm-leg control more effectively. The line and center of mass is the foundation for all movement. If not placed properly, expect mediocre movement results.


The key to football speed and movement is executing movement activities with sound technical and mechanical applications. To improve your ability to teach the product, you must make the effort to learn more about what creates human movement. Make a point to apply the technical aspects before you just run your players through a series of schematics that emulate some type of football movement. Position specific is fine if you don’t ignore the mechanical details required. This will take effort on your part to learn something new that requires time. Challenge yourself to spend time learning the aspects important for speed and movement. Take your time in learning – I can provide you with a list of coaches that have learned from by input as it relates to understanding technical movement for speed. Most of you have my number and email.

The following coaching points will provide some guidance with what to look for that’s useful as you teach football speed and movement to your players:


•  Be sure your athletes don’t drop their hips low. This puts the hips in a position that will not allow leg cycle frequency to turn fast.

•  The rule is that the hips are up, torso upright and two degrees forward. It is not straight up from the ground. This puts the center (c/m) just slightly behind the foot- positioned in the static positioned stance. Two degrees puts the center of mass where it needs to be before releasing.

•  Raised implements must not be more than four-five inches high. If higher, the knee lift will be too high which processes an insufficient motor response and is contrary to correct cyclic form.

•  The eyes must remain level at all time. Use peripheral vision to see the implements placed.


•  The first rule for separation speed from one angle to the next is to keep the hips up. Extend the lower leg forcefully downward to the surface while not dropping the  hips.

•  Planting is not accomplished by dropping the hips which is contrary to popular belief. If you drop the hips, you decelerate the velocity. You make ground contact longer and less reactive to quick impulse of the transition speed required to be fast.

•  If the hips drop to plant, they have to rise again to have maximum leg cycle frequency. An easy test for this is to drop your hips and keep them down and try to sprint. Now raise them to full standing height and sprint again. You cannot rotate the leg cycle fast when the hips are down. 
To learn more contact me at my e-mail address.


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