Product Update: Start Mechanics and Training Applications

In my ongoing quest to provide simple solutions to complex problems, I have created a video resource to help coaches and athletes develop an organized approach to improve starting and acceleration for their given sport. The result of this effort is “Start Mechanics and Training Applications.” Research has shown that how an athlete starts can greatly influence their acceleration mechanics and overall performance over short distance sprints. In sports that require athlete to move quickly over five to ten yards in order to be successful, great starts are a must. But, learning how to start properly is a complex issue that involves thousands of repetitions of good mechanics under ideal conditions. Athletes must have adequate recovery breaks between repetitions and must be reminded of the key rehearsal cues prior to executing the start. If these strict rules are adhered to every training session, the athlete will begin to assimilate the characteristics of good starts in all of their movements.

The video resource is divides starts into four main types:

1. Free Form Starts

Free form starts include all types of starts that involve no special equipment and no form of external resistance. These starts allow the athlete to express their strength and power with their own body weight, mastering the technique and their coordination in a natural manner. An athlete can focus on technique and relaxation during free form starts. Speed and efficiency of execution are the primary goal in all free form starts.

2. Medicine Ball Starts

Starts that involve the throwing of a medicine ball in advance of sprinting can be useful for developing starting strength and power through the initial starting movement. The medicine ball can be between 4 and 12 lbs providing a suitable amount of loading through the initial movement. The weight of the medicine ball should be heavy enough to provide an external load without impeding the speed of the starting movement. And, the initial push out of the start is loaded with the strides involved in the acceleration phase unloaded, allowing the athlete to focus on speed of movement and relaxation.

3. Resisted Starts

Resisted starts involve external resistance applied throughout the duration of the entire start and most, if not all, of the acceleration distance. This resistance is commonly applied through the use of a dragging sled or resistance bands. Not only do resisted starts build starting strength, but also reinforce optimal posture and drive angles through the duration of the acceleration distance. It is important to ensure that the resistance applied during these starts is not excessive, significantly changing posture, limb mechanics and ground contact time.

4. Obstacle Starts

Obstacle starts incorporate quick evasive movements with acceleration to simulate patterns of movement encountered in sporting scenarios. Vertical objects placed in the path of the athlete can necessitate horizontal deflection or vertical deflection in prior to their primary acceleration phase. These obstacles are placed in the initial vicinity of the start, requiring the athlete to perform agile movements or jumps in a very short time span. These movements are followed by a linear acceleration over a set distance. It is important to avoid over-cluttering the start with too many obstacles, resulting in an unrealistic scenario.

Start Mechanics and Training Applications – Preview

The intent of this video is not to provide a cookie cutter or paint-by-numbers approach to improving starts and acceleration. The idea is to provide coaches and athletes with guidelines and progressions for using various starting methods to improvement movement efficiency, starting strength, acceleration power and overall speed. Depending on the abilities of the athlete, the phase of development and the emphasis in your training program, you may decide to use different starting strategies. And, you can add some variety to help stimulate enthusiasm amongst your athletes and make your workouts a little more interesting.

This video resource is offered via digital download or as a hard copy DVD. For more information on “Start Mechanics and Training Applications” please visit


  1. Derek’s new video product is outstanding! I’ve been using many of these acceleration drills for years after reading about them in writings of the late Charlie Francis (book like Speed Trap, CFTS). This is best demonstration of many of these drills I’ve seen and includes several clever application for field and court sports. Well done Derek!


    • Thanks for the positive and generous feedback Keats. As an athlete, there are things that I wished I had focused more on. Good start and acceleration mechanics was one of those things. As a coach, I learned that changing the type of start can elicit different benefits and make doing something as mundane as performing repeat linear sprints a little more interesting. Charlie’s influence was very important, as he was able to articulate the biomechanical reasons and physiological reasons for using different starts at different times in a training program or session.

  2. Derek, you bring up some great points. Without the ability to accelerate effectively and safely, top speed (max velocity) doesn’t do one as much good. This is especially important for athletes in field and court sports with various potential positions they may find themselves in when needing to accelerate or change direction, etc.

    Having the variety of drills and implements (med balls, tubing resistance, etc..) really keeps the mind engaged and the athletes more entertained. The key is knowing when to use each specific drill or start and at what progression level; you give some great rationale for understanding these variables.


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