Drill of the Month: Straight Leg Bound
May 11, 2010, By Velocity Sports Performance - Irvine
At Velocity, one athletic aspect we work on is linear speed or straight ahead speed (40yard dash). Linear speed can be broken down into 3 different components; starts, acceleration, and max velocity. Where acceleration is the building of speed, max velocity is the maintaining of that speed. In max velocity an athlete is upright and cycling the foot to maintain their speed. The tighter the cycle, the more efficient the athlete is which means the athlete is able to maintain max speed for longer.
One component of the max velocity cycle is the ground preparation phase. During this phase the foot is moving in a negative direction back to the ground. The foot should land under or just in front of the hips, propelling the body forward. The hamstring is a main mover of getting the foot back to the ground. An advanced exercise we use to work on ground preparation and hamstring activation is the Straight Legged Bound. Pre-cursers to this exercise are straight leg shuffles and gallops.
While standing, the starting position begins with the hips neutral and transverse abdominis drawn in. Feet are hip width apart with the ankles dorsiflexed.
Keeping the knee extended, flex the hip ending with the toes near the height of the hip joint. Its important to note that proper direction should be maintained by striking the balls of the feet directly underneath the hips. It is important to not allow over striding or reaching during this movement.
This in hand pulls the athlete forward with a minimal break in forward momentum. This is referred to as pulling the hips through and should be distinguished as a pull not a push. Negative foot speed is directly proportion to velocity so as the rate of pulling increases, higher levels of hamstring activations will occur.
Arm action is an important key to this exercise. Focus on aggressively driving the elbows back to help the legs achieve the pulling action necessary at top speed. Posture should remain upright for the duration of the bound. Common errors are typically keeping the legs straight due to tight hamstrings and/or long ground contact time because of poor reactive power or reaching.
Straight Legged Bounds are an extremely useful exercise because they teach an athlete how to produce a big force in a small time. The exercise will give immediate feedback to the athlete when done wrong and it is relatively easy for a coach to see where weaknesses are. Most importantly, when used properly Straight Legged Bounds will help you run faster!