National high school signing day was February 4, 2009. After listening to all
the “gurus” discuss recruiting, one thing stood out—speed. Every high school
coach in America is looking for the edge in developing speed this off-season,
and I hate to say it, but most are missing the boat. A lot of money is being
spent on stupid gadgets that won’t do anything more than exacerbate an already
In part one of this article series, I’ll address two of the four fundamental
qualities—relative body strength, hip stability (pelvic girdle),
elasticity/reactivity, and rate of force development—that need to be improved in
order to maximize the development of your high school athlete.
Relative body strength
Everything—and I mean everything—is dependent on maximum force development.
However, your maximum must be in excess of your current body weight. If you
can’t develop enough force to rapidly overcome your body weight, you’re in
serious trouble. You will never be able to express speed-strength to your
maximum capability without a higher degree of relative body strength. In
addition, it’s impossible to quickly achieve hip hyperextension without
appropriate force production.
The following are relative strength norms for the squat exercise. Note that
these numbers are position specific:
· Lineman—2 X body weight
· Mid skill (linebackers, tight ends, fullbacks)—2–2.25 X body weight
· Skill (wide receivers, defensive backs, running backs,
quarterbacks)—2.25 X body weight
Because force is applied one limb at a time during most movements, it’s
absolutely vital to train unilaterally. Closed-chain activities such as step-ups
and reverse lunges are great for developing strength that improves acceleration
mechanics. However, I believe that Prowler pushes are even more effective at
developing unilateral strength.
The following pictures demonstrate a type of Prowler push that I use when
working on acceleration mechanics. The key is to hyperextend the hip before
allowing the next foot to contact the ground. This is also a great exercise for
developing hip stability.
High bar position
Low bar position}
Hip stability determines how you control your center of gravity. Run in a
straight line for 40 yards. Videotape yourself from the front and from the back.
You’ll be shocked at how much time you lose due to excessive rotation in the
hips. Not only are your hips rotating in the transverse plane, but they are also
rotating in the sagittal plane.
Picture a plate that is rotating on a table on its bottom edges right before
it stabilizes. These rotary actions are constantly destabilizing your center of
gravity and preventing you from maximizing force application. As a result, you
aren’t moving in a straight line. Instead, you’re deviating from side to side or
up and down instead of moving in a straight line.
What we commonly refer to as the “hips” is really the articulation between
the spine, pelvis, and hips. During the support phase of linear movement, the
hips allow for medial rotation, extension, and abduction of the stance leg.
During the swing phase, the hips allow for lateral rotation, flexion, and
adduction of the swing leg.
Movements of the hips are translated into movements of the pelvis:
forward tilt à flexion of the thigh and backward tilt à backward
flexion of the thigh
The pelvis articulates with the spine at the sacroiliac joint. The spine acts
as a lever with long lever arms. Even small degrees of movement can have large
effects on the total locomotor system. In addition, it is the meeting point of
various trajectory forces (Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology
Applied in Practice by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klom).
As you can see, this is a complex system wherein control is key. I highly
recommend the book, Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Applied in
Practice by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp.
Isometrics and what I call dynamic isometrics is the key to developing hip
stability. Start by holding an isometric lunge position for an extended period
of time. Once you can hold an isometric lunge for over a minute, it’s time to
progress to a dynamic isometric. A dynamic isometric lunge is performed by
either dropping into the lunge or jumping into the lunge and holding the
position. In addition, you can perform dynamic upper body movements while
maintaining an isometric position with the hips (great tip I picked up from Jeff
By developing hip stability, you’ll be able to apply maximum force
application into the ground without losing force production due to excessive
rotation. In addition, you will have much greater control of your center of
gravity when moving in multiple planes.
Starting position before drop}
Isometric lunge position (post
In my next article, I’ll go into greater detail on how to develop
strength/power through hip hyperextension. Until then, read as much as you can,
apply as much as you can, and dare to be creative!
Erik Korem is a speed development consultant for world-class sprinters,
including Veronica Campbell and Tyson Gay. He is also a speed
development/performance coach at Pro Performance in Rome, Georgia. In addition,
Erik is the co-founder of High School Strength and Speed. You can check out his
latest product, Football 360, at
www.highschoolstrengthandspeed.com or email him at
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