Posts Tagged ‘Dan Baker Strength & Conditioning’



Acceleration – It’s not just the legs

When athletes think of acceleration they immediately think leg strength, but that is only a part of the Acceleration equation. Acceleration requires huge force production over a longer ground contact than at top speed, making maximal strength for bodyweight is critical. Stride frequency and stride length are slower and shorter in acceleration than at top speed. Upper body strength is also essential to great acceleration because improved arm strength and mechanics are more important to driving the athlete forward during the acceleration phase than at top speed.


Many athletes only think of acceleration in terms of running straight ahead for a short distance. In reality, acceleration can take place in any direction. In actual play, athletes accelerate forward, backward, sideways, and diagonally. Many think acceleration occurs only from a static start. On the contrary, acceleration can also take place from a moving start at any number of speeds. For instance, a player in motion may have to accelerate quickly or decelerate quickly on the field. Both of these are forms of acceleration, and both can be improved with proper training.

Here we are using forward acceleration from a static start as a common way to describe the muscles and biomechanics of the Acceleration.

There are a number of physical and technical characteristics that can lead to poor acceleration. The first and most important characteristic is relative body strength. How strong an athlete is for how much they weigh is directly proportional to how well they can accelerate. Since acceleration is an athlete overcoming their own inertia with the force they produce, the leaner (less body fat) and the stronger they are at that weight are predictors of how well they will accelerate.

To look at the situation generally, the major muscle difference between acceleration and top speed is that the quads are used more in acceleration, and the hamstrings and hip flexors are utilized more during top speed. The most important areas to strengthen for acceleration are the gluteal and quadriceps muscles, the calves and muscles of the upper body, especially the anterior deltoid. Maximal strength is important here because ground contact times are much longer during acceleration than at top speed. Since there is a greater amount of time to produce force, the more absolutely strong a muscle is, coupled with greater relative body strength, the better the acceleration. For acceleration training, more maximal weights can be used in exercises such as the squat, lunge walks, chin ups, pulls ups, calf raises, and step ups.

We know that acceleration has a longer ground contact, smaller stride length, less stride frequency, different technique and teaching cues and relies differently on the muscles of the body when compared to top speed. Since there are different muscle actions during acceleration and top speed, it is logical that there will be different cues used when teaching technique. For instance, for force production at foot contact, acceleration should be taught as a “pushing” motion.


For good acceleration, keep the center of gravity low and forward while trying to push out as long strides as possible. As a vast generalization, a forward body lean of 45 degrees is recommended. However, it is difficult for any athlete to learn to “lean forward”; genetically we’re programmed to keep our bodies from leaning forward and falling. (You fell, a large ferocious animal ate you – we learned!) Continuous practice of “falling starts” helps to overcome what we’re hard wired to not do, breaking those bad habits.

Falling start video

Driving arm action is also critical to proper acceleration. Your arms not only add power and speed but they are related to your legs and force propulsion. The faster your arms move, the faster your legs move.

When running, the elbow should generally be at a 90 degree angle, with the motion taking place in the shoulder, which drives the arms. The action is not at the elbow or the wrist, meaning that the 90 degree angle at the elbow joint remains constant throughout. Shoulders are forward facing in forward acceleration and face the direction you want to go in sideways acceleration. Hands are not clenched, but open with the palm facing inward and sideways. As your arm goes back your thumb should be parallel to where your back pocket would be, not much further (or you’re wasting energy and motion). The opposite arm should simultaneously be coming up so that you can see your thumb in front of your chin or nose. If the athlete can’t see the hand, the hand is in the wrong place; we don’t want the hand to cross midline – that misaligns the body.

The angle of your arm to your body (humerous to torso) is critical to the angle of the height of the knee on the opposite leg – and we want the knee to drive up. With your arms in the wrong position your hip will be out of position for maximum movement.



Common mistakes with Arm Action video:



Finally, the athlete should draw in breath right before the acceleration and hold it for the first few steps. This will allow for a Valsavla maneuver and a subsequent better opportunity for your nervous system to produce force.

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS

Parisi Speed School Port Washington

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS   Coach Dominic was NCAA Soccer All American, an Academic All American and a Strength and Conditioning All American as well as playing professional soccer in England. He has helped coach one of the most successful Men’s Soccer development programs in the United States and in late December 2013 his U16 team became the US Youth Soccer National League Champions and was the first team in tournament history to play 7 consecutive games without conceding a single goal. He is a Parisi Speed School Coach in Port Washington and a TFW Instructor.


We have some online coaching places coming up for anyone looking for a specific training program to maximise their performance.

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Dan-BakerDan Baker Strength & Conditioning Workshop We are delighted to announce we have Dan coming to Ireland to deliver 2 day workshop for us. It will be Dan’s first time in Ireland and he can’t wait to get over to present his vast knowledge of experience with you. Anyone in the Strength and Conditioning circles knows of Dan Baker and its going to be full for the 2 days. Dan will be covering everything from athletic development in young athletes, strength and power training in amateur/professional sports, in and out of season programming, cross training, endurance development, bands and chains and their use in sports training and much, much more.   Turning Athletes into Hardened Professional Athletes the Australian Way A quick overview on some of the presentations/practicals Dan will touch on over the 2 days.   Presentation 1: Preparation Not Annihilation An Overview of Dans view LTAD with an emphasis on the resistance training progressions. In this session: Dan will go through an overview of LTAD, the Australian system of athlete development, reasons why child and youth athletes get injured and/or give up sports/training, what has been done in Australia to create best practices, with an emphasis on physical competency and controlling load.   Practical 1: Child/Youth Training Emphasizing the Right Start with Bodyweight Exercise This session will entail six methods to optimise the primary bodyweight exercises for athletic development.

  •  Push-up
  •  Pull-up
  •  Squat
  •  Split leg
  •  Plank
  •  Sit-up

Presentation 2: Training to Compete with the Big Boys Dan will look at the resistance training progressions necessary to undertake before advanced methods of strength and power training are embraced in addition to discussing the theoretical aspects of band and chain training. Basically this presentation looks at progressions in programming. This includes progressions in periodisation (cycle) structure, as well as exercises, sets, reps, volumes and intensities. Practical session 2: How to set-up and use Band and Chains How to use bands and chains for strength, power and size with amateur and professional athletes Presentation 3: Advanced Power Training This lecture will present data upon the following Dan’s research into the effects of different power training variations and hence why Dan uses or recommends certain techniques or strategies: The following will be discussed:

  • Negative acute effects of high reps upon power output
  • Full acceleration exercises such jump squats and bench throws
  • Timed-rep sets
  • Contrast load complexes
  • Agonist & antagonist contrasting muscle action complexes
  • Cluster sets
  • Drop sets
  • Bands & chains

Dan will also go through some of the programs he used at various times at the Broncos, including Gen. Prep., Spec. Prep. for both NRL and NYC (U/20 yrs). The difference in programming between NRL and NYC will be discussed in the context of the previous lectures. Practical 3: Advanced Power Training Methods Practical This session will entail a practical of:

  • Negative acute effects of high reps upon power output and the positive effects upon power output of
  • Full acceleration exercises such jump squats, bench throws
  • Timed-rep sets
  • Contrast load complexes
  • Agonist & antagonist contrasting muscle action complexes

Presentation 4: In-season training – Aggressive maintenance In this session, Dan will go through the evolution of his Wave Method for in-season training, results from 20 -years for in-season maintenance of strength & power.  Dan will also go through some of the programs he used at various times at the Broncos, including during Finals series and Grand Final weeks. Presentation 5: Energy system fitness training In this session, Dan will go through current trends in training for energy system fitness. If you train athletes who run or fight, this may be the most important lecture you attend, as the following will be discussed, with concrete recommendations:

  • DContinuous training V interval training
  • Maximal aerobic speed (MAS)
  • Intermittent Field Test : IFT- 30:15
  • Anaerobic Speed Reserve (ASR)
  • Small sided games (SSG)
  • Circuits & strongman type training
  • Interaction and/or progression in these different training modes

Presentation/Practical 6: This will be left for attendees to decide Anyone who books on the 2 day workshop can you please send us an email on what you would like covered that isn’t mentioned above and Dan will happily put something together to present and go though in practical too. We want this lead by the attendees on the day too so everyone can walk away from spending time with Dan and be able to implement material to whoever they work along side or clients. 

Location: Ireland Strength Conditioning Midland Centre
Gem Business Park
Athlone Road
Co. Longford
Date: 11th 12th October
Times: 9am – 5pm
Places: SOLD OUT 40/40
Food, snacks and refreshments will be provided over the weekend 

We will be going for food on the Saturday night with Dan so it will give everyone a chance to network and chat business and training. If anyone is looking for somewhere cheap to stay on the saturday night here is the best and only spot   dan 1 Dan Baker is one of the worlds leading authorities upon strength and power training for sports athletes. A PhD in sports science specializing in the testing and training of strength and power,he has the scientific knowledge and practical know how to implement effective strength and power training for sports athletes. Unlike most Phd’s he does not work as a full-time lecturer or in a laboratory – he trains athletes. No science bullshit – just the stuff that works.Some things about Dan Baker As a strength & conditioning coach: Former strength and power training coach of the Brisbane Broncos Rugby league team since 1995 (title winners 1997, 1998, 2000, 2006) Former champion powerlifter and powerlifting coach Strength and Conditioning Coach to elite international and national level athletes in the following sports – rugby league, rugby union, powerlifting, diving, soccer, track & field, netball, mixed martial arts to name a few A Level 3 Strength and Conditioning Coach and Master Coach of Strength and Conditioning as recognized by the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association As an Educator and Mentor for strength & conditioning coaches Dan is the National President of the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA) which is the not-for-profit body recognized by the Australian Federal Government to educate and accredit strength & conditioning coaches within Australia. Dan continues to lecture to all levels of ASCA coaches, from Level 1 beginner Coaches through to the Level 3 Elite Athlete Coaches. Dan is a sought after Educator of Strength & Conditioning Coaches because he makes the science easy and tells it straight. The practical implementation is what it is all about. Life memberships In Australian sport and social life, the “Club” is important. Dedicated club members are sometimes bestowed an honour titled “Life Member” for endless hours of dedicated work on behalf of the Club or Organization. Dan has three Life Memberships. Dan is a Life Member of the ASCA. Dan is a Life Member of North Kirra Surf_Lifesaving Club Dan is a Life Member of the University of Queensland Powerlifting & Weightlifting Club.