Photo via MNTrackClub.com
There’s an old saying that you can’t teach speed. That's not true.
By minimizing wasted motion and employing proper footwork, track and field athletes have built speed and burst for centuries.
On the gridiron, USA Football Master Trainer and Cleveland St. Ignatius head football coach Chuck Kyle has won 11 Ohio state titles. He's also led the school’s track program for three decades.
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Kyle credits track as a major factor in the success of his football program.
“We have to work on speed. We have to work on core strength,” Kyle said. “Our players don't all weigh 300 pounds, but they move pretty well.
“The first state championship we won was against Cincinnati Princeton (in 1988), and I think they thought they were going to run right by us. Our whole secondary was track guys, even the linebackers. Very early in the game, they sent their all-state running back down the sideline against one of our linebackers. The linebacker (Adam Bonsky) was a high-hurdler. He ran right with him and intercepted the ball.”
USA Football encourages all young players to compete in multiple sports in order to build well-rounded athletic skills.
Micah Kurtz of Stack.com has three reasons why football players should also run track:
1. Find your form
Track coaches know the ins and outs of speed and how to limit the variables at finding top acceleration. One small mistake in form can make or break a race, just as it can be the difference between running away from tacklers or catching up to a ball carrier, and not. Refining technique on the track carries over to the football field.
2. Build better burst
A runner’s speed out of the blocks has a great influence on finishing times. Trimming a fraction of a second off the start can be huge in the 40-yard dash. For football, the action of coming out of the starting blocks is similar to getting off the line of scrimmage. Both require speed and power generation from a dead stop. Flying starts – used mostly by relay runners – are a common track drill that translates directly to how receivers and defenders must go from half-speed to full speed in the blink of an eye.
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3. More speed, less effort
Many football players are all about force, running like they're bowling balls knocking down pins. Track athletes seem to glide effortlessly down the field. Track teaches runners to relax the body and exert the minimal amount of energy to attain top speed, increase productivity and conserve energy.
This is an updated version of a blog that originally published March 15, 2015.