I utilize a notecard system to help me organize similar material I come across from various resources. My intent over the next few years is to share and continually update these notecards with you.

This notecard is all about building the essential quality of acceleration.

Acceleration Mechanics

Effective acceleration relies positioning the body to maximize force application into the ground.
“The ground is the well from which you draw speed” ~Dan Pfaff
There are three keys to acceleration:
  1. Rhythm – pace and steps should follow a crescendo (like a slow clap).
  2. Rise – There should be an incremental rise in center of mass (like an airplane taking off)
  3. Projection – the system continues to go forward1

Trunk Mechanics

The most important key to accelerating well is a fast and large first step2. It is this first step, and the distance gained from the first step, that initiates the desirable acceleration crescendo.

Keeping the body and shin angle at 45 degrees allows horizontal and vertical forces to merge in a manner that is necessary for acceleration2,3. If short, choppy steps are performed during this phase, then less force is applied into the ground.

Notice the body lean, the shin angle at 45. Yohan can accelerate, fam.

Lower Extremity Mechanics

The leg and toe should stay low to generate push-off in the first few steps, though this is not something we wish to cue4. Some sprint coaches will cue dragging the toe to reinforce position, but this strategy is undesirable. Toe drag increases friction and slows the athlete down2.

Equally problematic is staying too low. If below 45 degrees, the athlete will step laterally instead of forward, simply because staying too low minimizes hip flexion range of motion2.

The feet ought to stay relatively underneath the body during acceleration. If legs begin to reach out in front of the athlete, the athlete will then slow down. Feet under the hips are accelerators, whereas feet in front of the body are brakes5

Upper Extremity and Neck Mechanics

From an upper body standpoint, the head and shoulders ought to also stay low, or the body will upright too early4.  As the upper body rises, the chest should be visible before the chin1.

Upper body is in a relatively straight line with the rest of the body. Arms are pushed forward and out

Early uprighting is typically related to reduced power output, sport-skill induced (e.g. a football lineman), or a potentially a neck issue6,7.

Arms ought to reach forward and out with each step. These mechanics are called frontside mechanics. This arm action reduces excessive backside mechanics (i.e. arms fall too much behind the body, driving extension) from occurring, which will prematurely upright the body7. Moving the hands first and fast can help create push-off from the backside leg4.

Eyes ought to fixate on a ground point 2-3m ahead of where the individual ought is going. If looking further forward, neck extension will prematurely uprights the individual, diminishing time spent in acceleration3.

Acceleration Energy Systems

Maximum acceleration is alactic in nature, and the longer time we can spend accelerating, the better.
The zone of acceleration is the distance over which one is able to accelerate prior to reaching maximum velocity. In elite 100m runners, this typically constitutes the first 60-80m of the race for males, 40-60m for females; with the bulk of acceleration occurring within the first 30m3.
If one can make their zone of acceleration longer and faster, we can prolong shifting to lactic metabolism as the primary energy system. Glycolysis, the reaction of lactic metabolism, is a slower energy reaction than the ATP-CP reaction of alactic metabolism. Longer time to produce energy begets slower outputs and likely fatigue3. As fatigue sets in, increases occur in ground contact time, amortization, and flight times2.

Measuring Acceleration

 Fully automatic timing (FAT) is recommended as a measure when training acceleration, simply because the margins for improvement of this quality are minor3.
An example of a FAT camera
The error for which hand timing creates is astronomical. You roughly have to add 0.4s to each run to account for this error; 0.24s for basic error, and 0.13-0.16 for reaction time on the start/stop3.

Acceleration in Sport

When not starting from the blocks, an individual still positions oneself in a manner that emphasizes acceleration angles. This maneuver is called a repositioning step. The repositioning step is not a true step, but a drop into a position that allows for effective acceleration6.

 As you can see in the above video, these athletes utilize a repositioning step to drop their center of mass at an angle that allows them to effectively propel themselves into the desired direction.

Training Acceleration

There are many modalities that can be used to drive acceleration mechanics. Here are some of the common methods espoused by various coaches.

Hill sprints

Keep the incline at 5-10%3.
Here is a video of the Jamican sprinter Yohan Blake hitting these up

 Sled Sprints

Resistance allows you to remain in acceleration longer, thus can be a useful modality to train this quality4.
Adding resistance cannot conflict with decreasing ground contact time or increased flight time that occurs with progressive acceleration, thus only add as much weight as form allows2,5.
Sled pulls offer the edge of allowing arm actions to drive proper acceleration mechanics
Whereas pushing a prowler maintains the acceleration angle throughout.

 Prone Starts

 The step up from prone allows for emphasis on acceleration push-off3.
Though the guy above doesn’t get as much forward arm reach as I’d like, his first step into the acceleration position is money.

 Supine Starts

Supine sprint starts are another great method to train acceleration, and may be especially useful in team sports for recovery after a fall3.
With this cat in the above video, I would like a larger first step, but he maintains a good acceleration angle without too early of a rise.

External Cue Sprint

Placing an object in front of the client that he or she must aim to sprint through can help create a larger first step. Ball drop activities can be useful in this case6.

 Falling Starts

This technique can be utilized to encourage a large first step. A large first step is a reactive action that occurs to prevent the fall.

Typically, this drill was done being from an upright start, but the tendency for early rise and backside mechanics is much higher with this starting position. A better drive angle can occur if the client starts in a low position7:

Acceleration Technique Drills

If you want to improve specific aspects of acceleration that cannot be achieved with coaching or training, implementing drills can be a useful way to break the acceleration skill down into its specific components.
For lower extremity mechanics, a wall drill is commonly used. Here are the components necessary to perform the wall drill successfully:
  • Start at shoulder height with the wrists
  • Body is in a straight line
  • 90 degrees hip flexion
  • heel under hamstring
  • Piston up/down emphasis6

That said, cleaning up arm mechanics oftentimes takes care of any inefficient leg mechanics, and is much easier to coach7. Since the wall drill fixes the arms onto the wall, the transfer amount to acceleration is questionable.

A perhaps better alternative could be a low box drill, which both allows for arm drive and places the athlete at an appropriate angle6.

Programming Acceleration

Acceleration can be addressed daily because it is a skill. Volume must be modulated accordingly to prevent overtraining and maintain power output8.
A typical session could be 3 series of 5 sets of 10 m (3x5x10m) with 60-120s of recovery; keeping a total volume of 150-350m pending the sport7. Building up volume over time, especially in team sports athletes, may allow for better sport skill performance come end-game7.
Since acceleration is an alactic endeavor, distances trained ought to reflect the point where maximum velocity is hit. Once maximum velocity is hit, acceleration is over2. Capping the durations at 6 seconds is a prudent way to achieve this goal3.

In an overall progression of things, many coaches favor the short to long method. That is, starting with shorter runs, then slowly increasing the distance of one run over time. A recommended acceleration-focused example of this would be starting at 5m and working up to 20m accelerations3.

Supportive Exercises for Acceleration

Quarter squats at submaximal load and/or Olympic lifts are effective exercises to incorporate when performing acceleration training. Single leg jumps and throws with a similar (<80 degree) knee bend are also effective3.
In regards to weight amounts, absolute strength (>90% 1 repetition max) will help with improving the first two steps, whereas power training (fast accelerations, 20-50% 1 repetition max) helps with the first eight steps2.

Sum Up

While far from exhaustive, the references that I have had the pleasure of learning from have taught me a great deal in regards to training and improving acceleration, and have helped me quite a bit with improving these qualities in my clients.

To summarize:

  • Effective acceleration relies on force application into the ground
  • Acceleration stops once maximum velocity is attained
  • Maintain a slow, low rise upon increasing velocity
  • Cueing arm forward and out arms actions is a simple and effective way to fix most acceleration errors
  • Distances and durations for training acceleration ought to be short

Which techniques and resources do you draw from to cue acceleration? Comment below and I can add to this notecard.


  1. Stu Mcmillan. Altis Apprenticeship Coaching Program. 2016
  2. Dan Pfaff. Altis Apprenticeship Coaching Program. 2016.
  3. James Smith. Applied Sprint Training, 2014
  4. Lee Taft. Physical Preparation Summit. 2012.
  5. Mike Boyle. New Functional Training for Sports. 2nd edition.  2016.
  6. Lee Taft. Certified Speed and Agility Coach. Online. 2016
  7. Derek Hansen. Private Seminar. 2017.
  8. Buddy Morris on the Physical Preparation Podcast. 2015. 

Photo & Video Credits

Nick Webb 

Darren Wilkenson

Andrew Hecker

Mart Muru

Original B&E

Barbell Shrugged

Mountain Tactical Institute 

Melina Karamitros

Kevin Carr

September in Review

Every week, my newsletter subscribers get links to some of the goodies that I’ve come across on the internets.

Here were the goodies that my peeps got their learn on from this past August.

If you want to get a copy of my weekend learning goodies every Friday, fill out the form below.  That way you can brag to all your friends about the cool things you’ve learned over the weekend.

Biggest Lesson of the Month

Much of our successes and failures can be linked back to the habits we have. I noticed many times this past month that ineffective habits I had picked up were hampering my progress and productivity. One simple change (eliminating a to-do list, blocking out time to do things) was a complete game changer for me.

If you are doing something you don’t like, how do your habits keep you falling into that trap?

Quote of the Month

“Quality is not an act. It is a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Very much linked to the above lesson. We need quality to become automatic, and who better to illustrate this than an O.G. like Aristotle.

Hike of the Month

Pictures never do these things justice.

This was a tough decision to make on multiple fronts. This month I hiked four National Parks, saw a National Monument, and did all types of ill stuff.

Though Sequoia National Park will forever hold a dear place in my heart, Yosemite was hands down one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. The variety of terrain, the challenge of the 18+ miles I hiked, and the #views are hard to beat. I go back and forth on if I liked Yosemite or Zion better. But regardless, you should probably check it out.


Quick Hit: Sprinting Tip

Here I discuss my favorite sprinting cue that I learned from my boy Derek Hansen. If there is one cue you could give to make your peeps faster, this is it.

Podcast: 20 Tips for Young Coaches

I wish I had this podcast when I was first starting out. My boi Mike Robertson lists several high quality tips that young coaches should apply to get the most out of many things–internships, networking, life. These tips are really good for anyone to apply in any situation.

Quick Hit: How to Lateral Shuffle

The lateral shuffle is a fundamental move that most any athlete ought to perform effectively. Here I provide my how-to’s and favorite cues…all in under 60 seconds #niccagestyle

Not to be confused with the equally impressive truffle shuffle

Article: ‘Science’ and the Barbell Hip Thrust

Doug Kechijian just continues to destroy the internet. In this article, he uses recent research on the hip thrust to critique a larger problem in science and performance–transfer-ability. Many times we argue about minutiae, when we really need to validate broader scope problems more effectively. Who better to discuss this issue than my buddy Douglas.

Quick Hit: Landing Mechanics 101

This past week’s quick hit goes into detail on how I coach landing mechanics, perhaps the most important piece to jumping safely and effectively. There are three keys to effective landing. What are those? Well, check out the vid.

Podcast: Bill Hartman on Building a Powerful and Pain-free Body After 40 

There is a reason why Daddy-o pops is such a huge part of my life. Besides being an incredible human being, every time I listen to him I pick up something new. In this podcast Bill goes into detail on the importance of routines, and he gives a sneak preview of his new book (out September 15th), going into detail on the principles he employs to building fitness post-injury. Also, if you want his book, click here.

 Quick Hit: Modifying Exercise Tip

If you hurt, the thing to do is to stop all movement right?!? WRONG.  A more prudent method is to find a different variation of a movement that gets the goal you want but doesn’t hurt. Here is an example


Research: On the (f)Utility of Pain

After I finished this article I was like “damn.” I think so many times as clinicians we chase pain relief for pain relief’s sake, without considering if the patient is truly suffering. I think about how many times I’ve been a part of the problem, even when trying to provide the solution. This one will definitely make you think.

Blog: How to Read and Understand Scientific Research

Chris Kresser again with another gem (long road trips tend to have me consume a lot of info from one source). Here CK goes over many practical tips towards being an effective consumer and appraiser of the research. If you think research is tough to understand in rehab and performance, don’t even think about looking at nutrition. Yuck.

Podcast: Trever Rappa and Greg Spatz on Streamlining Rehab and Performance 

My two baby boys have grown up so fast! It is so refreshing to hear two well-respected physical therapists discuss expanding the PT scope into aggressive fitness. I love how both of these guys espouse not making injured people seem fragile, but always pushing intensity. The more you can expose someone to intensity, the easier return to performance becomes. We can’t just stop at success on the table.

You can see the family resemblance

Research: Nociception Affects Motor Output – A Review on Sensory Motor Interaction with Focus on Clinical Implications

This article was just absolutely awesome. In it the authors explain how nociception, both acute and chronic, impacts motor control both short and long term. They also sprinkle in some really cool things with the sympathetic nervous system and movement variability. These are all reasons why we cannot ignore nociceptive drive in chronic pain states.

Blog: Travel PT 101 – What is Travel Therapy

If you are a PT, unattached, have a crap ton of student loans, and like adventures, you should strongly consider travel PT. Traveling makes it feel like you are on vacation the entire time you are on assignment, and it feels good to actually make a dent on student loans. Here are all your questions, answered.

Health & Wellness

Podcast: RHR: All About Coffee

For those of us who are coffee lovers; you are welcome. In this podcast my man Chris Kresser discusses all the amazing health benefits of drinking copious amounts of coffee. Wait until you here him compare the antioxidant values to some of those highly touted antioxidant fruits. #mindblown.

Quick Hit: Travel Tips

While we can often talk about how to time sleep, supplementation, and such with travel, one thing often not discussed is what equipment you should bring when you travel. Having the right stuff can make travel much less stressful. What stuff? Check out the vid to find out.

E-Book: Genetics – The Universe Within

I’m excited for this read, as I recently got some genetic testing done. Going through this one to get some clarification as to what the results mean, but the folks at PN always do some good work.

Personal Development

Blog: 5 Time-Saving Productivity Hacks, Reviewed

This is a blog I’ve just been getting into, but they came through with a clutch post on ways to be more productive. Amazing how effective meditation was; something I may have to revisit.

Pointy hat a must

Podcast: Setting Goals, Making Money, and Overcoming Tough Times – Phil Hellmuth

This podcast took me back to the days I was obsessed with poker. In this wonderful Tim Ferriss podcast, world class poker player Phil Hellmuth discusses many of the trial, tribulations, successes, and failures he has come across in his life. Many words of wisdom were had. Making my goal sheet now!

Blog: Don’t Forget the Second Step

Seth Godin writes daily little blurbs that are often quite profound and helpful in terms of all things marketing, business, and life.

This post is no different. Here Seth talks about step one, which is learning how to do something. Most people get only that far, and never hit step two. What’s step two? Read to find out.

Blog: The Success is in the Struggle

This blog really hit home for me. After getting let go from my NBA gig, I spent a great deal of time evaluating things I needed to change about myself. This is a hard conversation to have with yourself, but can often by life changing. Here Eric Cressey talks about his life changing conversation that made him the great coach that he is.

Book: I Will Teach You to be Rich

Ramit Sethi does an excellent job providing simple, yet effective financial device. I’ve been reading this book a bit slow, but applying every single lesson he’s recommended in each chapter with outstanding results. I was able to convince my credit card company to up my limit, give me 0% APR for a year, and doubled my interest rate on my savings account just by following these steps. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Blog: The Top 5 Reasons to Be a Jack of All Trades

Tim Ferriss has really impressed upon me the importance of having a broad skillset. Mastery, or even competency, doesn’t take that long to achieve. A bit of focused study, and you will have most of what you need to be successful at your craft. This is why I am expanding my learning into areas such as sleep, nutrition, and more.

Blog: These 55 Productivity Tips Will Save You 1,000 Hours

Insidehook is a site I’ve been checking out for a good while, as it contains a lot of good things ranging from style to productivity. Many good gems in this post, especially the email stuff.


Music: Incubus “8”

Incubus is one of my favorite rock bands, as I just love how diverse their sound is. And it seems like they rarely fail with their experiments.

This album goes a little back to some rock roots, and man does it have some heft to it. I trained to this when I first heard it, and I’m pretty sure my arm circumference increased by 3 inches…even though I was training legs!

Give “No Fun” and “Nimble Bastard” a listen

Which goodies did you find useful? Comment below and let me know what you think.


Photo Credits

Matt Brown


The Derek Hansen Speed Seminar

It turns out the Hamptons isn’t just a place to live large.

It’s also a place where great learning can take place.

That is exactly what recently happened when me and my boizzz arranged a 1-day seminar with sprint coach extraordinaire, Derek Hansen.

and it was a total bro-down

For those who don’t know, Derek is one of the best sprint coaches in Canada, and had spent 10 years learning from THE Charlie Francis.

He is a wealth of knowledge in many areas, but the course focus was on all things sprinting, speed, acceleration, and periodization.

The setup we arranged was very unique. We watched Derek coach three different athletes on sprint mechanics, and watching the man work was quite remarkable. His ability to find the right cue, verbiage, and drill to attain improved sprint mechanics was remarkable. He is definitely an artist at his craft.

Point being, if you get a chance to hear the man speak, do so. You won’t regret it.

Without further ado, here are the notes.

[Note – I am not the best sprinter in the world, so bear with me on the videos]

Continue reading “The Derek Hansen Speed Seminar”

Impingement, Trusting Your Assessment, Noncompliance, and the Off-Switch – Movement Debrief Episode 15

If you are beyond sad that you missed last night’s Movement Debrief, number 15, I got your back. This time both audio and video are available #growing up.

Here’s what we talked about:

  • What impingement is
  • How to treat impingement at any joint
  • When do local inputs matter?
  • Trusting your assessment process
  • When to go beyond your assessment process
  • Why context matters
  • Making the most of noncompliant people
  • Dealing with bad situations
  • The importance of having an “off switch”

If you want to watch these live, add me on Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube. They air every Wednesday at 8:30pm CST.



Here were some of the links I mentioned in this Debrief.

The 3 Biggest Basketball Conditioning Mistakes

Practical Basketball Conditioning

How to Treat Pain with Sitting – A Case Study