Note: I leave for a backpacking trip to Europe in a few days (returning October 29th) so this will unfortunately be my last post for a couple weeks. Hang tight, and see you all when I get back!
The falling start is a fairly ubiquitous drill in the strength and conditioning sphere, and for good reason. It creates a fantastic way to train the acceleration phase of the sprint, helping the athlete create momentum via forward lean, and can be employed with very short distances (15 yards or less) to reduce the risk of injury in the early phases of sport preparation.
I won't belabor the point any further, however, as I wrote an entire post on the falling start HERE.
We can progress the falling start through a variety of modalities, either utilizing offshoots of the specific drill itself, or moving on to a different drill entirely (ex. a Rollover to Sprint or a Side Shuffle to Sprint).
One of my favorite ways to progress the falling start is to preface the "fall" portion of the drill with eccentric muscle contraction and subsequent force absorption. This, provided the athlete does it correctly, will lay the groundwork for better-stored elastic energy and augment the individual's concentric strength.
How does one do such things, you ask?
Utilize an altitude drop or hurdle jump variation immediately before the falling start. These will force the athlete to demonstrate dynamic stability, on top of "priming" the muscle spindles prior to the sprint.
Hurdle Jump and Stick to Falling Start
As you can see, you'll simply jump over an object (short or tall), stick the landing, stand up, and then immediately move into a falling start.
A regression to this drill would be to have the athlete perform a Level 1 or 2 altitude drop (less eccentric control required here), stick the landing, then sprint. Either that, or you could simply stand on the ground and perform a "hop-back" into a falling start.
A progression could be applied a few ways:
A) Instead of pausing after the jump (as I did in the video), immediately transition into the falling start.
B) Vary the jump prior to the sprint. This could be accomplished through assorted tumbling drills before the jump, or varying the landing stances of the athlete. No need to get super wild with these, however; simple will be best.
C) Wear a superhero costume, pretending you're leaping over tall buildings and chasing down evil villains.
How To Incorporate It Into Your Program
Four primary ways I like to do this:
- Perform all the sets in a row on an "upper body" focused day, resting a few minutes between every two to three sprints.
- Do them on a lower body day, but complete only HALF of your total number of sets (say, two of four, or three of six), prior to your resistance training, and then finish the remainder of the sets toward the end of the session.
- Utilize a "throughout the session" method. Choose a number of sets x reps (e.g. 5x2) and intersperse them throughout the day as you see fit. For example: do two sprints after your warm-up, two more sprints during your warm-up sets of squats, two sprints in between sets of accessory work, etc. etc. etc.
- Do them on a day completely separated from the resistance training.
I recommend erring on the side of 2-3 "reps" of 10-15 yards per set, ensuring that you're taking your time walking back to the starting line.