The Need for Speed… Linear Acceleration – Part 3

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)


In Part 3 of this series on Speed Development, we’re going to get moving (click here for Part 2 and here for Part 1)… literally by starting with linear acceleration (forward). This means getting our center of mass moving as quickly as possible. Linear acceleration relates to all sports, but is best put to use on the baseball field in the form of base running, stealing and in the outfield.


Today, I’m going to break it down into three phases and explain how we train each phase separately and eventually connecting them into one fluid movement.

Phase 1- Posture – Correct running mechanics begin with good static posture. We start every session with Glute / Wall Iso Holds to help simulate what good posture looks like in mid-run.

Some of our cues are:

  • Feet approximately 3 feet away from wall (distance can vary based upon height of the athlete)
  • Wrists at shoulder height or slightly below – It’s important not to bring the hands and arms up too high due to the fact that we want to make sure the core can handle the body posture and stabilize the pelvis based on where the hands are.
  • Straight line from ankle to shoulders.

Check it out.

(Glute / Wall Iso Holds)

Phase 2 – Starting Phase (Power) – The initial push-off all the way to the first 2 or 3 steps is where 75% of the battle is won (or lost). This is also known as “first-step quickness” or “first 10-yards”. Call it whatever you want, I call it getting a good stable base of strength in the weight room before you try and go out and be powerful. Anything less is merely leaving half of it on the table.

With that being said, one way we can train power in the starting phase, is with a drill such as ½ Kneeling Starts. This drill helps to “over emphasize” the starting or “push” phase by adding extra resistance, forcing the athlete to emphasize the initial front leg push into the ground preventing a “lag in their start.  This in turn carries over to a more explosive start when in a more athletic position. We like to cue “load the front leg” as well as “throw the arms back” to help drive the same side leg up into flexion and get the athlete up quicker.

(Half Kneeling Starts)

Phase 3 – Drive Phase – Once the athlete is up and moving we need to make sure that he is continuing to accelerate by using an aggressive arm action which in turn creates a longer ground reaction time helping to produce a longer stride as well as a stronger and higher hip and knee drive. We also cue “chase the shoulders” to ensure we are keeping the load on the front leg throughout. Step drills are great to help feel what an in-sync pattern feels like.

(Step Drill)

Stay tuned for next time when we’ll talk about Lateral Acceleration.

See ya’ in the gym…


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