The Running Drills for Track & Field
As a track and field coach, it is difficult to pin down the things that your belief makes your program special. As a coach, I believe our work with biomechanics, something that I believe we can hang our hat on. Interestingly enough, a lot has been written about the effectiveness of drills.
But I also believe the devil is in the details.
Everyone discusses A skips, B skips, and quick leg type drills. We, of course, use those drills but it is also important to play with the surfaces, hand position, loaded or unloaded, straight, curve, hill, and flat. We also try to combined drills and skills.
Now you may be asking what is the value of drills beyond warm up and rehab? I believe at Maximum velocity it is extremely important to protect the firing pattern of the hamstring. The speed and forces these athletes put their bodies through its opens them to all sorts of risks.
Another value of these drills is it helps at the diagnostic level to catch issues before the main part of the workout begins. I can't tell you how many times I have been able to pull a kid out of practice before a drastic injury. It has worked to this point for a number of years as we have had only one hamstring pull in nine years (yes I just knocked on some wood). I know that may sound unbelievable but it is true. However, I am also not ignorant enough to think this is only because of the drills. Instead, it is a cumulation of all the factors in training blending together like a masters work concert.
The magic is to first package your drills in two-day rotations. That will help you keep things fresh for your kids and keep them from overloading certain muscle groups. Then every two weeks those packages of drills should change and build previous skills.
Banta Drills Mid-Season Quick (specific prep)
2x15 High Knees w/20 meter burst
2x15 Butt Kicks
2x15 Karaoke w/20 meter burst
2x15 Quick Ankles
2x15 Jogging Alternating Quick Leg Single w/20 meter burst
2x15 Jogging Double Quick leg
2x15 Up, out, and through w/20 meter burst
2x30 The Jerk aka Backward Hip Step-over
2x10 Wall Paw Quick Drill note the number of PAWS2x40 Build Ups barefoot on grass
For example go from a walking quick leg to a jogging quick leg, alternating quick leg, double quick leg, quick ankles to a quick leg, and on. If possible the drill packages should mimic your themes for that particular Microcycle. Using drills to correct inadequate technique take a long time.
Recently I was reviewing a number of old clinic videos from 2004 USATF Super clinics and one of the presenters mentioned a study that said it takes upwards to 500 hours to correct bad technique. If you start with an athlete their freshman year things can be changed. Obviously, it takes commitment to the process and constant queuing from the coach of years.
Reading Ralph Mann's latest book The Mechanics of Sprinting and Hurdling, the best difference in all his charts and data between elite to a novice is front side mechanics. As coaches it's our duty to not ignore that information as just talent being talented. Change can happen.
It's time to get to work. Enclosed below I included a video of some of the drill packages we do at PCH and in the past with the St. Louis Lightning. Please recognize the athletes doing these drills were at different stages in development.
In addition, I show some of the slight variations that you can use to slightly change your drills and make things more technically challenging.
Featured in the video includes a Canadian world championship trials qualifier, a former Stanford football captain, and an All-American 5k athlete with a couple youth level athletes.