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The Stick Drill

Source: www.coacheseducation.com
By Aaron Thigpen
Date: Sept. 2002

The "stick drill" can be setup to improve leg turnover, rhythm or stride length. The sticks can provide a model that forces a neuromuscular adaptation by the athlete.

For example, if an athlete has a normal stride of seven feet and you reduce it to six and a half feet, by placing the sticks 6ft apart, you will force the athlete to place his feet down quicker thus forcing a faster turnover. By repeating this drill regularly the body will learn (adapt) to fire quickly without drastically changing running form. Once free to run without the sticks the athlete will repeat the higher frequency with the benefit of a normal stride.

Materials: What's great about this drill is it is very inexpensive. Painter's sticks, tape, chalk, or low soccer cones can be used.

How to Set the drill up: All you do is place the sticks on your track or grass field according to what your trying to accomplish below are three variations of its use.

Note: These are general setting for high school age athletes; women and younger athletes may need closer spacing. For acceleration: Start by placing four sticks 3 shoe lengths apart, then another four 4-shoe lengths, and another four 5-shoe lengths and so on until the desired distance (generally 20-30 m) desired stride length or athletes max stride length. Continue to sprint 10 meters beyond the last stick.

For Rhythm: Start by placing sticks 3,4, 5, or 6 shoe lengths apart for a distance somewhere around 20-30 meters, generally use 10 to 15 sticks. Take a 10-20m run in, run thru the sticks and continue the rhythm for 10 meters beyond the last stick.

For Stride Length: Have athlete take a running start from about 20m into the sticks so the athlete is at a full stride. A good setting to begin with for most athletes is usually 5 1/2 to 6 shoe lengths apart. Once an athlete can sprint through this distance at full speed then widen the spacing by 1/4 shoe length, then 1/2 working your way up to possibly one full shoe length. Take care that the athlete keeps good form and does not over stride, reach out, or other improper sprint mechanics.

Training Tip: Try to run through as smoothly and quickly as possible, do not tiptoe or shuffle. When you get to a point where you are almost out of control (usually midway) do not slow down, keep good form and continue to accelerate. By slowing up or braking you defeat the purpose of the drill. It will be uncomfortable but that's the idea. You will be running faster or striding farther or holding a rhythm that is unfamiliar but the more you do it the easier it will become.

How often: 2-3 times per week
Distance: 10-30meters
Reps: 4-6
Recovery: 2-4 min.
Part of Workout: Generally right after the warm-up before longer runs.

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