If you want to gain an advantage in a game of inches, try developing an explosive first step. Work through the following three exercises to get off the line of scrimmage faster, steal second base easier or gain a half step on your defender.
For best results, perform all the following exercises two to three times a week.
The Standing Start
Benefits: Trains the body’s fast-twitch muscle fibers to explode from a resting position to maximum capacity.
How It’s Done
To begin, stand with feet hip-width apart. Slide one foot back so toes line up with the heel of the front foot. From there, bend the knees slightly and push the hips back, keeping a flat back. Allow both arms to hang down comfortably.
Now it’s time to take the first step: drive the back knee forward while pulling the corresponding elbow back as hard as possible, and sprint. Throughout the sprint, concentrate on driving each knee forward and pushing each elbow back.
Sets/Distance: 3-5×5-10 yards
- Punch the knee forward
- Drive the arm back hard
- Stay off the heels
Benefits: Bounds teach exerting force against the ground, an important skill for developing speed and agility.
How It’s Done
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Start by driving the left knee into the air while driving the left arm back as hard as possible. Land on the left foot, then immediately drive the right knee into the air while driving the right arm back as hard as possible. Think of Bounds as exaggerated sprints.
While bounding, count the number of times your left foot hits the ground. Next set, work on decreasing that number by taking longer strides.
Sets/Distance: 3-5×10 to 20 yards
- Lift knees high
- Drive arms back hard
- Land on the ball of the foot, avoiding heels and toes
- Move the limbs quickly
Standing Long Jump
Benefits: One of the best exercises for building the lower-body strength necessary to explode into a quick first step.
How It’s Done
Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Crouch into a ready position by pushing the hips back and swinging the arms back at the same time. Throwing the arms forward, drive away from the ground to propel your body forward as far as possible. Land on both feet.
Use a tape measure to monitor your progress.
- Keep movements synchronized
- Use upper body to build momentum
John M. Cissik is president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps professional athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with all levels, produced four videos, written 10 books and more than 70 articles on strength and speed training. For more information, follow him on Twitter (@yourhpservices) or like him on Facebook.