Years ago, the University of Nebraska did a study to determine which physical tests were most highly correlated to on-field success. The 10-yard dash was the top drill, illustrating very clearly how important the ability to accelerate is to the game of football. Most coaches will tell you that the athlete who can dominate their opposition in the first ten yards will win the battle. If you’re creating a football speed training program, acceleration should be the first thing you address.
Acceleration is often talked about, but very few coaches understand or are able to teach proper mechanics. Many of the fastest athletes in football have figured it out on their own, but I still see a lot of really fast players struggle to demonstrate their speed because they simply don’t accelerate well. They have great top-end speed, but they just can’t get started with a burst. That burst is often the difference between making a play or getting beat.
As I was teaching him acceleration techniques, Phoenix Cardinals LB Paris Lenon stopped me and said “This makes so much sense, why hasn’t anyone ever shown me this? I’ve been playing ball for years, and nobody ever taught me this.”
This is not uncommon. Most athletes get a little instruction on sprinting mechanics, but teaching acceleration is much more evasive. Sure, it takes work and coaching skill to get athletes to do it correctly, but if it’s that important, you’d think it would be the emphasis of every team in the world. Unfortunately, it’s simply not being done very well.
This video breaks down exactly how I teach acceleration mechanics to football players when they start training with me. I use these same cues and the same instruction when I train players for the NFL Combine or NFL Pro Days. I use the same stuff when I teach young athletes, high school athletes, college athletes or NFL vets. They all need to accelerate faster, and if I’m going to correct their mechanics, this is where I start.
I hope the video helps you understand the basic principles of acceleration for football speed.