There is something that high level athletes have that seems to be missing in the majority.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no science behind this, just what I have seen.
Highly successful athletes are able to give all out efforts on demand. They do not need any tricks, they just perform.
This can be seen in a sprint, jump, agility drill, or during conditioning. They just leave nothing behind.
Most athletes are not like this. Getting them into that mindset can be very difficult but not impossible. I like to try and find “tricks” to help my athletes perform at a high level.
I have even joked that if a new athlete came in to test his or her 20 yd dash, I could probably cut .1-.2 off it without actually changing anything in the sprint. I do not say that to be cocky because anyone can do it.
The strategy is to find a way for the athletes to outperform their previous effort. Sometimes it can be as simple as telling the athlete to jump higher or run faster. Some will be able to and others will not.
I like the following three things to help an athlete run, jump, and change direction better.
Run through the High Grass
Telling an athlete to run through high grass is a simple way to improve knee drive and minimize contact time on the ground. Both of those qualities will help their speed.
A good knee drive lengthens out an athlete’s stride. A longer stride results in a faster sprint.
The second half of the running speed equation is stride frequency. Spending less time on the ground will improve frequency.
Speed= stride length x stride frequency and running through the high grass hits on both of those.
Load and Explode
When changing direction, an athlete must absorb their momentum and then gain ground going in the other direction.
Two big mistakes that happen during agility drills are jabbing a foot into the ground and twisting in place.
An athlete should not just stick their foot in the ground to stop. instead, they should bend at the knees and hips, getting lower to the ground. This sets up the next step.
You must also gain ground when coming out of a turn. Too often a pivot takes place. The goal should be to use that deceleration to push and get some distance the other way. You can save yourself many steps by gaining ground.
The load is slowing down and explode uses it to get going the other way.
Jump and Touch the Ceiling
If you want an athlete to jump higher/further, give them something to go for.
We have cables going down our turf for batting cages. They are out of reach but appear attainable. When doing a vertical jump test, I ask the athlete to reach for the cable. 9/10 times this will improve the jump.
I have had an athlete improve his broad jump close to 10 inches by picking a spot further than he would normally jump. There was no way he was going to reach the far spot, but it took the parking brake off of his mind.
These 3 hacks are supposed to help the athlete make quick, if not instant, progress. Just like getting someone to improve their speed by telling them to run faster, these hacks will help change the mindset.