How Skips help Athletes Sprint Faster

[Content by Loren Landow and Eric Bach]


What is the key to faster sprinting?

Shear power and high rates of force development are important, but it’s imperative to build these physical qualities on a foundation of rhythm, timing, and postural stability to maximize sprinting efficiency.

In this post ESS Director of Sports Performance Loren Landow presents skipping progressions to improve sprint speeds at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.

Coach Landow covers exactly why you need to include skips to groove optimal skipping mechanics for faster sprinting speeds.


Skipping Exercises for Faster Sprinting Speeds

Skips to improve both acceleration mechanics with optimal joint mechanics for force development and skips to groove the cyclical action of top-end speed sprinting are covered. 

Acceleration Skips Variations 

These skips are progressively more advanced to groove angles for faster acceleration.

Similar to the wall drill, your athletes flex one hip to create a shank of the femur and tibia, allowing optimal angles for force generation and putting the gluteus maximus on stretch.

Simultaneous dorsiflexion of the feet create a rigid spring for optimal force development on each explosive skip into the ground.

  • Forward Skips (0.15)
  • Backward Skips
  • Lateral Skips (0.29)
  • Cross-Over Skips (0.38)

a skip

As a result, the athlete will generate maximal torque at the hip axis based on the shank of the thigh and the shin. From this position, your athletes will attack the ground aggressively without wasting time cycling the foot to the near end and have an explosive first step.

Top-End Speed Skip Variations

Top end speed requires an efficient cyclical action to maximize sprinting speed. The cyclical action of these skipping variations prepare the body to close the gap and  pull the leg through in preparation for the ground strike, resulting in greater top-end sprinting speeds. 

  • Cyclical skip: (1.06)
  • Cyclical A-Skips: (1:50)

Key Takeaways

Regardless of the drill at hand it’s best to keep your message and coaching cues consistent with athletes.

Like learning a language or studying a new topic, the more frequently athletes practice perfect technique the faster the learning process and more rapid the skill acquisition. Incorporate acceleration based skips and top-end skips to groove optimal mechanics for faster sprinting speeds to sprint away from the competition.

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ESU Interview with Baseball Legend Gene Coleman (advice for coaches, a typical MLB game day, and Hall of Fame Traits)

To put it lightly, Gene Coleman is one of the foremost experts in human performance and a true legend in the field of Strength and Conditioning. In today’s post, Gene was kind enough to sit down and chat with director of Sports Performance Loren Landow on his 30+ years as an MLB Strength Coach while providing valuable insight to the up and coming sports performance practicioner, trainers, and coaches, including what separates the elite athletes and coaches from their peers.

On what Separates Elite:

In this post we discuss the traits that separate the elite players and athletes from crowd. Not surprisingly, the same traits that separate elite athletes from their peers separate elite coaches and practitioners from those who struggle make a living and help their clients.

Key Points that set the table for Success:

  • Be the first guy in, and the last guy out
  • Be on time, every single time
  • Be a good teammate or co-worker
  • Have respect for the game (or your profession)

What Elite Coaches Look for When Hiring (4:50):

Furthermore, Gene discusses his time as a Strength and Conditioning coach at the highest level and what he looks for in aspiring strength coaches.

Key Points:

  • Educational background and certified, like the accredited courses we offer at ESS (
  • Be on time, be early, and show respect
  • High energy with the willingness to ask questions and seek direction
  • Be capable—If you can’t execute an exercise or drill you can’t expect to teach it.
  • What do you bring to the table? Specifically, what skills do you have that will improve the staff, team, and culture. (6:45)
  • Be willing to work and know your craft (15:40)

For example, if you’re “strength guy” and need better movement training, look for a coach that is an expert in movement mechanics. (P.S. Check out Phase One to learn optimal acceleration, top speed, and change of direction mechanics)

A Typical Day as an MLB Strength Coach:

  • The grind of 162 games in 180 days
  • Equipment, facilities, and last-minute program adjustments
  • There is no typical day—have a well thought out plan and progression and make adjustments as needed. (9:10)
  • Career highlights, such as Hall of Fame players, the World Series, and Playoff runs

Gene Coleman is a true legend in the exercise science community. The depth and clarity of this discussion provide invaluable insight you accelerate your career and a Strength and Conditioning coach or practitioner.

P.S. For a very limited time, Register for a FREE Membership and watch part 1 of 12 of the Year Long Baseball Training by Dr. Gene Coleman for a LIMITED TIME!

Dr. Coleman is a Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in the Fitness and Human Performance Program. His work with NASA’s Astronaut Training Manual and the Houston Astros are contributing factors in his receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. “The NSCA provides a professional certification and registration program for strength and conditioning coaches in professional baseball,” says Coleman. “As a professor, the NSCA has provided resources to improve student learning and a certification test to help evaluate professional competencies.”


Read A.Eugene Coleman, Ed. D. Complete VITAE

The Ultimate Assessment Tool for Athletes

 Despite all the advances in science and performance it’s been difficult to bridge the gap between quantifiable statistics on movement in the lab and chaotic nature of movement in sports.

As a result, there’s a huge gap between the assessment protocols in measuring the symmetry of athletic movements in the lab versus the chaotic nature of sports.

Problem is, most assessments only look at range of motion and stability in slow, controlled movements in the controlled environment of a biomechanics lab instead of fast-paced actions that take place in sport. While laboratory data is invaluable it leaves much to be desired in the assessment process to mimic the demands sports place on your athletes.

In other words, there is a gap between the assessments we perform with athletes and true tissue and joint demands required for optimal, injury free performance.  

Well, that gap is closing thanks to DorsaVI. DorsaVI is a data gathering system that allows coaches and athletes to gain real-world, quantifiable data on joint mechanics to optimize performance and reduce injury risk.

The DorsaVI system attaches non-invasive tracking software to athletes to monitor the true tissue and joint demands on athletes while providing vital information on joint and movement symmetry.

For Coaches

As coaches we are constantly analyzing our athletes skills and asking questions.

How well can the athlete accelerate and decelerate?

How well do they change direction?

Are joint mechanics balanced and symmetrical, or do they favor one leg over the other?




These are key questions in optimizing movement efficiency and preventing injuries in your athletes—dorsa VI provides qualitative and quantifiable data to show you where the holes are in your athlete’s performance.

Through gathering this information gives you quantifiable and qualifiable data regarding biomechanical positions, joint mechanics such as knee varus and valgus, the symmetry of movements, and measures of rhythm and timing during movement.

As a result, you have a true profile to create customized programming for post-injury return to activity and to plan progression and measure progress through joint mechanics during movement over the course of an athletic career.

In other words, you have 100% unique data to each athlete to optimize performance to their specific needs, whether it’s returning from an injury or maximizing movement efficiency.

[Want to see how Coach Landow trains his NFL Combine Athletes? They all undergo a thorough Dorsa VI assessment to create fully individualized programs based on their needs. Click here for FREE access to exclusive content, including member’s only NFL Combine Training workouts]

 Wrap Up

Dorsa VI assessments are used with most of Director of Sports Performance Loren Landow’s athletes to gain valid information on his athletes. This helps create fully customizable training to prevent injuries and optimize movement efficiency for greater levels of sports performance.
Remember, each tool is only as good as the practitioner uses it, but access to cutting edge data is imperative to maximize performance and take your athletes’ performance to the next level.

Acceleration Wall Drill for An Explosive First Step

In Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer what is one common athletic trait that separates top performers from the crowd?

Speed kills.
Specifically, an explosive first step and otherworldly acceleration distinguishes your athletes from their opponents.  


All Movement Sports Benefit from Explosive Acceleration

Whether it’s driving to the lane in basketball, DeMarco Murray accelerating through a hole, or Ricky Henderson stealing third-base there is a major need for optimal acceleration.

While there’s nothing we can do about the genetic gifts of an athlete, Director of Sports Performance Loren Landow will help you optimize acceleration mechanics to develop the more efficient, faster athletes.

There is a distinct difference between top-end sprinting and developing explosive acceleration.

Acceleration utilizes a piston-type action, which is distinctly different than the cyclical pattern in top-end sprinting. Not to diminish the importance of top-end speed, but mastering the first few steps of acceleration is a vital skill. Most sports are played in short, explosive bursts, not 40-meter breakaway sprints.

Wall Drills for Sprinting Acceleration

Today, we’re going to show you a great exercise too groove acceleration with optimal joint angles and mechanics.

As a result, you’ll teach your athletes to develop more force in less time to accelerate faster and improve sports performance.

Start Slow

In motor learning it’s important to bring athletes along by chunking progressions to groove new movement patterns.

In the case of acceleration, wall drills provide a controlled environment to groove the piston action of acceleration.

Specifically, the wall drill grooves optimal forward lean, trunk integrity, and joint angles for faster running speeds.


Set up:

Have the athlete lean forward 45-60 degrees with the arms locked and trunk engaged. This lean will depend on many factors, such as postural integrity, limb length, and experience with the drill.

Have your athlete flex one hip to create a shank of the femur and tibia, allowing optimal angles for force generation and putting the gluteus maximus on stretch. Dorsiflex the feet to create a rigid spring for optimal force development on each explosive step.

Execution “punch” and “drive”

From the stationary position instruct your athlete to “drive” the flexed leg and rigid shank into the ground, striking with a dorsi-flexed foot for maximum force development.

Simultaneously, the planted leg should “punch” forward, mimicking the set-up position with the opposing leg.

The intent is to “drive” back behind the hips while punching the opposite leg to the loaded position without losing position. It’s imperative to keep the trunk engaged, arms locked, thoracic and pelvic positions stable.

The main issue with losing position is limited hip extension, which results in inefficient acceleration and slower sprinting speeds.

The acceleration wall drill grooves the optimal movement pattern for greater running speeds.

As a result, the athlete will generate maximal torque at the hip axis based on the shank of the thigh and the shin. From this position, your athletes will attack the ground aggressively without wasting time cycling the foot to the near end and have an explosive first step.

Wrap Up 

The wall drill is only one drill in a micro-progression to teach optimal acceleration mechanics for faster sprinting speeds, but it provides a stable environment to maximize optimal joint angles, body position, and trunk integrity to accelerate past the competition. Without a doubt, the wall drill is one of the top drills to groove an explosive first step. 

photo credit: Stride!!!! via photopin (license)