4 Change of Direction Drills Valuable to the Lacrosse Athlete

As the spring lacrosse season is upon us, we are prepping hundreds of lacrosse athletes for their up-coming season. While our goal is to not mirror the exact game of lacrosse, we utilize these drills in order to break down specific technique involved in the game in a controlled setting.

You will notice when we talk about agility through this article, there is no mention of agility ladders or complicated/rehearsed drills that are commonly seen on social media. These drills emphasize power production and reduction in ground contact time in order to move the body faster from point A to point B. Along with building reaction time, that is the true transfer of agility onto the field.

Lateral Shuffle to a Crossover Reach.

In a lateral shuffle drill that can seem as basic as it can be, I noticed Coach Matt June making a very slight, yet critical adjustment in the hand placement of the athletes. Notice when performing this drill when reaching to touch the cone with the same side hand you can notice how easy it is for the athlete to get lazy with their position and simply bend over to touch the cone.

Notice now when performing this drill with a cross-body reach with the opposite side hand. The change that this makes in the athletes position is massively different, and the latter mirrors the position we would deem optimal for sport. By crossing the body it forces the athlete to hinge at the hips and rotate through the mid-back, all while maintaining their universal athletic stance (Universal Athletic Stance = stable and upright chest + knees slightly tracking out + weight on the center foot if not slightly on the toes). 

Shuffle to Vertical to Shuffle

This drill is highly effective for any sport where one must utilize fast lateral movement in both a defensive and offensive positions. For example, if we watch this drill in real time, we can see how the vertical jump allows the athlete time to gain proprioception of when their foot is going to hit the ground. This offers a platform for the athlete to begin to decrease their ground contact time after landing. 

Say when we ask an athlete to split dodge (Split Dodge = A basic movement of offensive attack in lacrosse), the athlete must have incredible awareness of when their foot is going to make contact with the ground so that they can accelerate themself in the opposite direction. Simply put this drill teaches an athlete how to be faster out of their dodge.

Figure-8 Variations

We have found figure 8 drills to be incredibly effective in simulating play around the crease for both offensive and defensive players.

Acceleration to 180 Turn Deceleration (Advanced)

I began utilizing this drill with many lacrosse athletes as I realized this foot work can expose an athlete at incredibly high sprint velocity. A drill like this must be progressed, however by training this movement pattern in a controlled environment we can prepare the athlete to absorb these forces in a way that will greatly reduce the risk of injury on the playing field. During transition play in lacrosse (When there is a change in possession and the ball is moving to the opposite end of the field) athletes will often hit their max velocity sprint speed, which is very rare in sports other than track. In this play athletes have upwards of 60 yards of open field to reach max velocity sprint speed. During this phase the athlete is generating their peak forces during sprinting. These athletes must then stop on a dime and turn a complete 180 degrees to drop into a defensive position. By forcing an athlete to complete this footwork in a shorter distance, we reduce the speed and therefore the forces that they can generate while approaching the turn. As we progress this drill the athlete will take longer distances between turns, allowing them to generate more speed.

WHY WE FOCUS ON MOVEMENT PATTERNS BEFORE MAX EFFORT

Say you just bought a used car that you planned on fixing up as a weekend project. The car needs a ton of work. Regardless of your experience, intuitively, you may begin with getting the engine to run, change the brakes out, and change the tires. What you wouldn’t do is go directly to adding a turbo to the engine that doesn’t quite run yet. What we can come to realize from this article is that strength and conditioning can be thought of in a very similar way to working on a vehicle.

On “Just Fly Sports Performance Podcast”, I listened to Joel Smith interview French performance coach Jerome Simian on how he built a world record holding decathlete. There was one section of the interview where Jerome notes his viewpoint on how he is able to increase performance through movement rather than through strength and power maxes. While he would agree, there is a time and place for heavy strength lifts, I thought it was a fantastic point made that we can increase the performance of the athlete through creating better movement patterns. This can be thought of like the car mechanic. If we pursue max effort strength movements before addressing competent movement patterns, it’s as if we are increasing the horsepower of the engine while driving on bad brakes and tires. In both the human and the car, the expression of the engine’s horsepower must be facilitated by a structure that is optimal. If structure and movement is not addressed first, we are giving an athlete an engine that is way too powerful for what their frame can handle. This is how countless injuries occur in even the best athletes. Even for an athlete in a strength based training program, we must continually come back to movement focused work; just as we would bring our car in for an oil change and inspection from time to time.

Just yesterday on the training floor, Coach Matt was breaking down a lateral shuffle technique with one of our highest level athletes. I noticed him quietly observe the movement patterns of the athlete’s lower body and feet. I asked him what he was looking for. He noted how he did not like how this athlete was stacking their trail leg during a lateral shuffle as they went to change direction. He felt it placed the athlete in a compromised position. What they did was break down the movement into simple holds, allowing the athlete to feel the exact adjustment that they both agreed that her body should be in. Even though this was a very high level athlete, they struggled in making an adjustment to correctly aligning her body. I couldn’t help but think what a catch this was by Coach Matt. With the naked eye he was able to notice just the slightest leak in positioning of the athletes lower body during a high speed lateral shuffle.

Whether we admit it or not, many humans have this innate belief that more is better. Oftenly in the strength and conditioning field we fall into this trap of trying to squeeze more speed, more power, and more strength out of our athletes. After all, we call ourselves performance coaches. How can we know if we increase performance without a quantitative number to tell us that we are improving? The adjustment Matt made to his athlete’s lateral technique was more beneficial than any pro agility (a baseline agility test commonly used by strength and conditioning professionals) or sprint time. He facilitated a technique that increased the integrity of this athlete’s frame, allowing massive room for the addition of more horsepower. Like I said before, adding horsepower to a car that is out of alignment, is a recipe to end up back in the mechanics shop. When people come into our facility for the first time, this is not always what they want to hear. Most people come to us and say “I want to get faster”, “I want to build strength”, “I want to increase my agility”. Regardless of the athlete’s goal, it must be initiated with fantastic movement patterns. In turn we will develop a machine that runs reliably, efficiently, and will have a tremendous amount of room for after-market additions.  

TRAINING THE CHEERLEADER

When observing the detailed movement requirements of a cheerleader we can see the broad range of movement capacity required out of the athlete. In our context, movement capacity can be described as the ability to perform a wide range of patterns (jumping, twisting, flipping, landing, balance on a single leg, handstand, etc.) with efficiency and stability. With this, a successful cheerleader must possess the prerequisite strength to produce a massive amount of force as well as have the stability to absorb such a force to avoid injury.

In all sports, athletes from youth division up through elite levels deal with overload injury. “Overload injury” is commonly synonymous with “overuse injury”. These injuries are those such as stress fractures, tendonitis/tendinopathy, muscle pull/tear. “Overuse” implies that the athlete is at imminent risk of these conditions upon too much volume of their sport, which is most certainly not the case. “Overload” describes these conditions as a result of the athlete not possessing the physical requirements to handle what their sport is throwing at them. While athletes may get hurt while exposed to repetitive movement patterns, this only becomes an issue when their bodies can no longer handle the load placed upon it.

In terms of cheerleading, athletes have such a variety of physical demands. From holding as a base support, sprinting and tumbling, to jumping and landing, and everything in-between. The injuries stated before happen as a result of an unprepared athlete. As strength and conditioning professionals, our skill set is not in coaching the fine movement patterns required of cheer, but to build the capacity of the athlete’s muscular and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and bones) to handle the forces that they will receive throughout a cheer season.

Movement’s that we implement with a cheerleader may be scaled dependent on age. However, the planes of motion, as well as muscle groups that we train, will be relatively similar across the board. Here is a simple list of sample exercises that we would implement upon training cheerleaders:

Landing: One of the first things we do with any athlete is teaching them how to properly land and absorb the force of their own body dropping from an elevated surface. The drill begins with two-foot landings and progresses to one foot as well as implementing rotation and lateral movement too. This will inevitably be a prerequisite for any complex plyometric drills that we implement in the future.

Squat: Shown here, one can see the similar mechanics squat to the landing. We train our athlete’s to create a stable and strong squat stance that will allow them to build strength that will carry over to the landing itself.

Quadruped/Crawling: By getting the athlete to crawl with opposite arm to leg, it forces them to create a cross body and torso stabilization. This is an incredibly important strength requirement whenever an athlete is rotating, twisting, or changing direction. Proper crawling is also key in building transferable upper body strength in athletes as they are forced to coordinate their upper body with their lower body. Spending time supporting their body weight on their hands will also build stability in the elbow and wrists.

Box Jumps: Shown here is a box jump, which is a useful tool in any training program. It allows the athlete to produce a tremendous amount of force and athleticism in landing on an elevated surface. Box Jumps are a very good tool for increasing vertical power, which when done properly can increase an athlete’s vertical jump. Again, whenever we complete this movement we are always reverting back to our landing/squat position to ingrain those proper force absorbing movement patterns.

Sled Pushing and Pulling. This is by far one of the greatest ways for an athlete to express and build their absolute strength. This will be the primary platform that we utilize in providing a younger athlete with an external load other than their bodyweight. The reason being is that the weight never leaves the floor. Upon fatigue or technique breakdown, the athlete is never in a position of vulnerability or injury as they only bare the weight when they are pushing or pulling it. These are great movements in building strong and stable ankles, knees, hips, torso, and shoulders.

Pushups and Pullups. Finally, these two movements have stood the test of time in strength training for a reason. Similar to the crawling pattern stated above, the pushup teaches the athlete to support their body weight on their hands and press with a stable torso. Moreover, the pull up is another foundational movement as we are going to build shoulder stability by teaching athletes to support their body weight from a hanging position. These are the starting points to building strength through the upper body for an athlete who is going to be supporting their own bodyweight, or in this case someone else’s body weight, with their arms.

Strength and conditioning for cheerleaders is an integral part of both their performance as well as their health and longevity in the sport. Regardless of the sport, our goal is to create resilient athletes who are able to handle the demands of what their sport throws at them. An important takeaway message is to realize that many of the muscular and connective tissue injuries that youth athletes constantly suffer from are those of overload. Their bodies simply were not capable of handling the force or volume placed upon it. These issues are preventable with a well planned progressive training program.

WHY THE CLEAN SHOULD BE APART OF EVERY CATCHERS PROGRAM

When it comes to the sport of softball, quick, explosive moments followed by a period of physical relaxation has come to define its physical exertion. Some positions, such as the pitcher and catcher, require it to happen more frequently than others. The frequent movements a catcher makes requiring explosive power provides performance coaches with the reasoning for incorporating the clean into their workout programs. Below is a video of just some of the similar movements between the clean and throw down for a catcher.

What Does the Clean Provide for an Athlete

“The hang power clean exercise has been found to produce high bar velocities, high ground reaction forces, and high power outputs.” (1)

  1. It teaches the importance of the kinematic sequence  
    1. In order for an athlete to effectively complete a clean, there is a series of movements that must happen in a specific order. The kinematic sequence allows the athlete to transfer power throughout their body necessary for completing a powerful movement. Triple extension is an imperative sequence in the sport of softball – it is the concurrent extension of the hip, knee, and ankle that produces power up the kinetic chain (2). For the clean, this power travels from the feet all the way to the upper limbs which are responsible for flipping the bar to the catch position.
  1. Force application into the ground  
    1. In order to generate the power for the kinematic sequence, the athlete completing these movements must first pound into the floor. The equation for force is mass multiplied by acceleration. In order to initiate the clean, we are started from a neutral position and accelerating as fast as we can. This speed multiplied by our own mass is equivalent to the force we put into the ground. This force then transfers up our physical chain which allows the upward pull sequence to involve less upper body work and allows the arms to only have to “get under” the bar.
  1. Explosive Power  
    1. Olympic lifts, such as the clean, require high amounts of muscle fiber recruitment in order to provide the explosiveness necessary to complete the sequence. This translates to speed and power development. The ability to quickly recruit motor fibers of several muscle groups is necessary for the reactive aspect of softball and other sports.
  1. Rapid Concentric to Eccentric and Eccentric to Concentric Muscle Action  
    1. The first movement of the clean forces triple extension – mentioned above – that is a concentric movement. From there, we are forced into an eccentric load on the squat portion of the clean and back to a concentric movement on the extension of the clean. This rapid amortization phase in the clean correlates to the power output of an athlete. The faster you can go through this cycle, the more powerful you are.
  1. Feeling like a Boss Afterwards  
    1. There is no better feeling than hitting a clean that seems daunting. After this movement, athletes tend to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as it is not an easy movement to perform. Drop the bar like you drop the mic.

How this Translates to Catching

Numerous aspects of the clean translate to the catching position. First off, the catcher is performing an enormous amount of eccentric and concentric movements – think of the number of times they go into and out of a squat. As for the catchers throw down, triple extension is paramount to throwing out of a squat. Being able to effectively go through this kinematic sequence is important to ball velocity on the throw down. Effective use of the legs in the squat position transfers power up the kinematic chain which, in turn, increases velocity. Tthis begins with the force application into the ground and travels up through the midline, to the shoulder, ending in the fingertips. Similar to the clean, there are very few feelings like throwing out a runner. You get to sit there and feel like a boss for just a split second. The confidence in the weight room can translate onto the field.

It is important to note that, as a strength performance coach, we cannot give an athlete a movement just because we know it works. If the athlete is not strong enough, or ready to understand the movement, it can be more harmful than beneficial. There are certain segments of the clean – the deadlift, jump shrug, and high pull – that can be used to start the athlete on the process of performing the clean. But when the athlete is ready for it, the clean can be an extremely beneficial movement for the athlete.

Cassidy

References

Rucci, J. A., & Tomporowski, P. D. (2010). Three Types of Kinematic Feedback and the Execution of the Hang Power Clean. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(3), 771-778. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181cbab96

Ayers, C. (2016, June 221). Basic Biomechanics: The Foundation–Triple Extension. Retrieved from: http://www.byanymeansbball.com/blog/basic-biomechanics-the-foundation-triple-extension

  1. (2017, July 6). How Olympic Lifts Translate to Athletic Performance. Retrieved from http://blog.bridgeathletic.com/how-olympic-lifts-translate-to-athletic-performance

Evaluating Training Differences Between Men & Women

Why are men typically stronger and faster than women?

There is a multitude of differences between the male and female anatomy that account for strength, power, and endurance differences. However, where most people like to attribute these differences to gender alone, the main reason for these discrepancies is due to hormones and muscle mass distribution. Meaning, a female, and male with similar hormonal responses and muscle mass would thus have very similar training outcomes.

Hormonal Impact on Strength

Testosterone is the main hormone that has become synonymous with doping in the professional sports world. Testosterone levels benefit the athlete by increases bone mass, improving fat distribution, muscles size, and strength, and increasing red blood cell production. If the best athletes in the world are seeking ways of increasing testosterone then it should be obvious that it is one of the most important hormones to strength and power. Pre-puberty. testosterone levels in both males and females are fairly similar thus there are very few differences observed in strength and power output amongst young athletes. However, post-puberty, males can produce anywhere from 10-20 times the testosterone in women.

How much of a difference is there?

Post-puberty, once hormonal changes begin to make an impact on an athletes physique, the true differences between males and females begin to emerge.

Strength

On average, females have less muscle mass than males. As a side note, this means they are more susceptible to reconditioning. This susceptibility means that in-season training is imperative to females because they will lose muscle mass quicker than males. Women will have 2/3 the overall muscle mass of men; 1/2 of the upper body muscle mass and 3/4 of the lower body mass. For example, a male will on average have 80% of their leg be muscle whereas a female will have 60% of their leg be muscle. With this being said, when adjusting for fat-free weight and fat-free cross-sectional area, one study reported that all sex differences in strength were eliminated when looking at the lower half (1).

Speed and Power

Men have a tendency to be faster because of three main reasons: body composition, hematocrit levels, and heart and lung size. Due to hormone sensitivity and production, males have a tendency to be leaner and carry less fat mass. Typically, a leaner body mass will equate on average to a faster runner. Hematocrit is the volume of red blood cells in proportion to total red blood cells. The higher levels of testosterone in the male system account for a higher red blood cell count. More red blood cells lead to an improved ability to exchange O2 and CO2 within the cell thus a higher power output when training. Lastly, males on average have larger heart and lung sizes. A larger heart would equate to a higher stroke volume again affording the ability to generate more power over a sustained period of time. Additionally, the wider hip angle of a female puts them at a biomechanical disadvantage when sprinting. Meaning, when looking at the force vector applied to the human system when the foot strikes the ground, the wider hip angle can make it more difficult to transmit directly through the female athletes’ center of mass. This would thus require more overall force to create the same power when running than a male. This is yet another reason why a male of the same muscle mass as a female may still run faster.

Despite these differences, it is still impressive that some women are able to compete with their counterpart males in various sports. As for which gender benefits the most from training, the confounding variables contributing to this question seem to stray in too many directions to give a definitive, black and white answer. As a Sports Performance Specialist who has had the opportunity to observe males and females spanning ages 6-30 and across a spectrum of sports, I can tell you the athletes that trained with intent, put the effort in to remain consistent, and truly believed they were going to improve observed the greatest benefits from training. The desire to improve does not favor a gender.

(1) Sex difference in muscular strength in equally-trained men and women

PHILLIP BISHOP, KIRK CURETON & MITCHELL COLLINS

Pages 675-687 | Received 14 Mar 1986, Accepted 29 Oct 1986, Published online: 27 Jul 2007

(2)Gender differences in skeletal muscle substrate metabolism – molecular mechanisms and insulin sensitivity

-Cassie Reilly-Boccia

WANT TO THROW HARDER?

The following article will discuss our belief as to how an individual can learn how to:

1. GET HEALTHY:

  • As the game of baseball has evolved a major point of emphasis for all pitching coaches has been how to increase velocity. Yet, as professionals, we should never focus on throwing harder if the athlete presents with pain or maladaptive movements.
  • Regardless of how familiar the coach is with the athlete, the first step towards any productive program should be a thorough movement assessment. This assessment must have the central focus of being investigatory and preparatory for the athletes future training applications.
  • Assess for:
    • Current injury state
    • Proper movement patterns (especially for shoulders, hips and ankles)
    • For adequate force production and force absorption capabilities
      •  i.e. strength & stability
    • Pitching mechanics (video)

2. ENGRAIN MECHANICS:  (through the use of medicine ball drills)

  • Through the lens of empirical research, the coaching staff at AW is currently evaluating how the utilization of specific medicine ball drills can improve mechanics and throwing velocity. 
  • The goal of this research is to suggest that a pitcher may not have to endure stressful off-season throwing programs to improve both mechanics and throwing velocity.

3. JUMP > 200 TIMES A WEEK:

  • The angular separation between the throwing shoulder and drive leg hip has been touted as providing up to 80% of the energy demand needed for effectively throwing a baseball.  Research has found that in order to increase this angular separation and aid in its energy transfer the pitcher must produce a significant amount of ground force through the drive leg and the landing leg at different points throughout the pitching sequence.
  • Jumping, especially unilateral in the horizontal and transverse planes, has very similar applicational elements to the actions exhibited in a pitch.  We have found that once we can get our athletes to the point of jumping over 200x a week their power outputs (tested on a Keiser machine) has drastically improved…so has velocity!

4. LIFT HEAVY THINGS OFTEN:

  • Force production is at the core of athletic performance!  Strength and conditioning principles are now well received by any serious athlete and/or coach and should be appropriately applied.

5. HANG FROM A BAR:

  • Often scapula kinematics, serratus anterior, lat and the all elusive lower trap strength are brought into the conversation when discussing the proper strength and functionality of a pitcher’s throwing arm.  When discussing how to enhance/strengthen these areas many of the exercises that come with the greatest applicable impact happen up on a pull-up bar.
      • Chin/pull-up variations (eccentric, weighted, etc.)
      • Kipping motion (no pull-up, knees-to-elbow)
      • Front lever variations
    • Inverted row variations

6. BECOME MORE ATHLETIC

    • For far too long it has been established that pitchers didn’t need to be athletes; they just needed to know how to throw the ball.  Thankfully this antiquated mindset is dying and dying fast as we see the emergence of physical specimens in our highest level of play.
  • An athletes ability to generate force is either compounded or limited by their ability to effectively transfer this force/energy.  Pitching is about kinematic sequencing, the accuracy of neuro-firing, and the resulting power output.  Being a better athlete (i.e. performing movements like change of direction, power cleans, bounds, etc.) will only aid in the quality and quantity of improvement in a pitcher.

7. NEVER RUN LONG DISTANCE

    • Long distance running is counterproductive to any athlete interested in improving power production, which as we learned earlier is a primary concern of every pitcher.
    • The energy demands, muscular requirements and power capacity of long-distance runners only replicate long distance runners, not most other athletes.  Just because the game is long does not mean the athlete needs mindless aerobic endurance to be able to withstand the duration.  The athlete needs to be able to produce an incredible amount of force approximately 100 – 120 times over the course of the game with short duration breaks in between each bought.  With approximately 12 seconds of rest between each pitch and no more than 2 seconds of work time that’s a 1:6 work to rest ratio with about 4 full minutes of work time.
  • Sprint & sprint often!

12 Strength Exercises Your SPRINTER Should Be Doing

This article provides twelve exercises to improve sprinting speed in athletes, as well as other information regarding how to sprint faster.

by Matt June

Stiff Leg Deadlift

This exercise is very specific to sprinting as we are eccentrically loading the hamstrings/glutes and quickly driving up through hip extension.  Beginners to this exercise start lighter and progress this movement.  Use a tempo on the way down (3-4 seconds) and drive up fast by extending the hip to meet the bar at the top. 

Wide Stance Box Squat

Setting a box just below parallel (an inch or two), complete this exercise with a wider stance than you normally squat from.  Be sure to sit back to the box and have your knees slightly behind your toes.  By doing so we are now squatting properly and using our glutes and hamstrings to drive out of the bottom.  This exercise is tremendous for teaching how to squat properly but you are now working on two major muscle groups vital to sprint performance.  Use this exercise as a staple and keep your reps between 2-4, staying between 70-80% of your 1 RM.

90 degree Front Squat

We want to load this between 75-85% of 1 Rep Max and the focus is moving the weight fast out of the bottom position.  We’re calling this “90 degrees” only to imply that we are not getting to the very bottom of our squat.  Unlike the Wide Stance Box Squat, our focus here is the leg extensors (quadriceps) and the concentric action of the squat.  At the same time, we are using the stretch-shortening cycle to quickly reverse eccentric to concentric action (same as in a sprint).  Bar speed is more important than weight on the bar for this exercise.

Hip Thruster

We use this exercise specifically for hip extension and we can achieve both power and strength with this movement.  Specific to sprinting this is an exercise that will improve the acceleration phase of our sprint (where the majority of athletes will spend the most time in their sport)

DB Walking Lunge

Specific for sprinting, this exercise is great because of multiple things going on at once.  One we have a single leg exercise, we are moving in the horizontal direction, we have to decelerate on the way down, accelerate as we come up and drive forward to the next step.  By using dumbbells we now have a stability aspect, not allowing our torso to move side to side. 

Single Leg DB Calf Raise

One of the most forgot about exercises for sprinters / all athletes.  This industry dwells on the hamstring and quad for knee health yet we always forget whats underneath the knee…the calf.  This is just one example of a calf exercise you can easily do with little equipment.  Plain and simple you need to train the calf, every other day. 

Heavy KB Swings

Heavy, challenge yourself with weight for this exercise (when our form and technique is perfect and ready to use heavier loads).  Very similar to the Hip Thruster, except this exercise is now standing and we can work on horizontal power.  Again, we are working on decelerating load and accelerating load (Sprinting). 

Heavy 1 Arm KB Walks

A simple exercise that can easily be done incorrectly.  We are doing this for anti-rotation purposes.  In sprinting our torso must avoid rotation as we are trying to move in the horizontal direction.  With this exercise, we can work on just that and can be down as a superset with another big exercise from this list. 

Heavy Sled Towing

If you are going to take away any exercise from this list, take this exercise.  Start lighter and progress the weight, dragging for sets of about 50-80 yards.  When you are towing make sure you have a slight lean of the torso (acceleration/start phase) and you are making contact with the ground behind your hip.  This exercise is phenomenal for acceleration and really should be done with all athletes.

Weighted Sled Block Starts

This exercise is more specific to sprinters coming out of blocks but it can still be done with athletes struggling to stay horizontal in their first few steps of a sprint.  The load does not need to be too heavy, we need to be able to fire out of the blocks and drive the sled about 5-10 yards (no further).  This exercise is concerned with our initial first step and staying aggressive for our 2nd,3rd,4th,5th…etc.  Do this exercise as a warm-up or superset with a barbell exercise from the list. 

Plyoball Hamstring Curl

Plyoball or machine we need to be doing leg curls.  Focus on the eccentric portion (about 3-5 seconds to return to the starting position).  The reason we like the plyoball is because now you have a stability aspect and you have to control your whole body while completing the leg curl.  Superset this exercise with the squat or use right before the squat. 

Reverse Hyper

The all mighty exercise for everyone, not just athletes.  We get therapeutic and strength sides of the same exercise.  Therapeutic – we are getting spinal traction or decompression (relieving pressure of the spine), this is the eccentric component.  The Concentric component of this exercise works the entire posterior chain at the same time.  We have hamstring, glute and back extension all at once.  This is not only an exercise that can help you become faster, this exercise is just as important for injury prevention. 

I want to know how to sprint faster. You want to know how to sprint faster. We all want to know how to sprint faster. I was curious as to how to sprint faster, can you teach me how to sprint faster?