Q: When is your vertical jump book coming out?

A: For all those who have asked me this all I can say now is stay tuned for an announcement that I can virtually guarantee will occur before the year 2006 and perhaps even about 40 weeks sooner!!

Q: I would really like to improve my foot speed and was wondering if there were any specific quick feet drills that could help, or if choosing any one of them would get me better. As a receiver I obviously need to have quick feet, mainly for me coming into and out of pass routes, trying to juke defenders, stutter stepping, change of direction etc are the most important. Also stuff like running 2o yds and stopping on a dime. I know that requires tremendous deceleration forces and i was wondering if doing suck work as reactive squats and rea glute hams will improve this because in rea squats the moment where there is an isometric pause, however brief it may be, requires intense muscular contractons, and vioent forces. Stopping on a dime also requires an intense isometric contraction as the body is violently stopped and thrown into another direction. So would rea work help aid in making a smoother and more explosive transition in stopping on a dime and accelerating in another direction? If you could explain if there is a correlation and if rea work is beneficial in making transitions, stopping on a dime, accelerating in other directions etc thatd be great.

A: For deceleration and change of direction ability, no "drill" really compares to just going out and practicing your routes and doing your football drills - all who might think different, go outside, run 20 yards full speed ahead and STOP on a dime. Then do the same doing a 180 then a break in and out.

Deceleration is really a form of intense plyometric work like depth drops and depth jumps. Therefore just like depth drops and other varieties, sprinting either forwards, horizontally, or backwards into a STOP, - can all be thought of and used as a training exercise. This encompasses force absorption. What's mainly responsible for the amoutn of force we can absorb is maximal strength, of which lifting heavy loads and increasing general strength is mainly responsible. Think about it. If you watch gymnastics, the females in particular, who always has the best dismounts?? The girls with the blatantly stronger lower bodies do that's who!

So, basically once you have sufficient strength you'll be able to be more effective at dealing with your bodyweight. Now all you have to do is improve the rate and proficiency which you can absorb that force and pop out of your transitions. You do that by using either training exercises like plyometric variations, or in this case, participating in the specific activities which will yield even better results. Yes REA squats and g/hams can also be useful but they're not as good as the specific movements. The best thing to improve this is to get out and do it. The interesting thing is, if you do a lot of this you will actually tend to get stronger as well, even if you don't lift, cause you're also "intensifying" or increasing the magnitude of momentary eccentric force.

Be careful with the frequency and volume of intense agility and deceleration work cause it'll tear you up pretty good. I recommend you d it with the same frequency as you would maximum speed, acceleration and lifting work. Twice a week for a total of 150-200 yards of deceleration drills, agility drills etc.should work well to start.

Q: Question: I was wondering, what is the main role the hamstrings play in jumping? I mean, we all know they flex the knee, but to they really help that much in hip extension? What do they really do?

Provide stabilization for the glutes to get into the hip extension role? Helping reducing the collapse at the hip? Or what?

Also, what do you recommend for a guy like me, that jumps only off his calves off two legs? I pretty much plant then jump only off my calf power, posterior chain is not involved in any way.

Hamstrings do all of the above including providing stabilization and reducing collapse a the hip and of course they assist in extending the hip and flexing the knee. To keep it simple they basically work in conjunction with the gastrocs (calves), glutes, and erectors, to either extend your leg against resistance when you walk, run, jump, etc.or they contract to help resist excessive knee bend when dealing with high impact forces. Usually they do both. For example when you sprint, every time your foot hits the ground your hamstrings contract to keep your hips high and avoid excessive knee bend. This contraction also propels you into your next footstrike.

A lot of people have trouble grasping this concept so I have a series of drills I use to give the person like you an idea what and how hip extension works in the real world. First, to see how "uninvolved" your calves really are when you jump try this: Stand on a flight of stairs, start with the first stair, with your heels hanging off the edge and your knees completely straight....hold onto the rail to balance yourself. Next, see if you can jump up onto the next stair using just your calf. If you can then you're the only person in the world! That oughta tell you your not using your calves as much as you think. Next, do the same thing but this time push your hips back and lean over before driving off the balls of your feet. Make sure you don't bend the knees though. With this variation you should be able to get up on the next step. That's because you engaged your posterior chain including the hamstrings. You're able to transfer the force from your hamstrings into your calves.

Next, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, lift one knee up so you're standing on one leg, and then execute 3 consecutive standing broad jumps off of one leg without any hesisitation between jumps. Also, try running with completely straight legs and you'll be able to see more succintly how involved they are.

Hopefully that'll help you grasp the concept.

Q: What sort of effect does creatine have on explosive power and also on overtraining. Plus what sort of streches should a basketball player be doing.

The effect of creatine is variable because of the weight gain. It will make you stronger yes but along with that strength comes extra muscle and weight gain. In some people, mainly skinny people, that extra muscle gain gives them a leverage advantage that outweighs any negatives the increased bodyweight would have and it makes them more explosive nearly immediately. They'll run faster and jump higher within a few days of starting creatine supplementation. In others, the extra weight gain slows them down. You just have to experiment with it. If it's gonna work for you then you should know it within a week one way or the other. You'll either feel and be more explosive or faster or you'll feel heavy and slow. The only thing I'm aware creatine does for overtraining is help keep the body in an anabolic state because it slows down muscle cellular metabolism. This makes it great for thin guys who burn up muscle at the drop of a hat.

As for stretches I recommend all athletes stretch the hamstrings, quads, calves, external hip rotators, and hip flexors. If that's all you do you'll still be well ahead of most. For the athlete, static stretching is insufficient to develop the full range of movement strength, power, mobility and stability required in sport. It must be combined with high intensity static and dynamic activities. After all, it is active flexibility of the appropriate degrees of joint freedom which correlates most strongly with sporting proficiency and resistance to injury.

A very simple and natural way of enhancing flexibility in the gym is to carry out a normal exercise over a progressively increasing range and then use a progressively heavier load over a progressively increasing range. Often one simply sits at the bottom of the low squat for a few seconds while the load stretches you against CONTRACTED muscles, not relaxed muscles. Hold the stretch for as short as a few seconds up to a minute. Also do the same thing with lunges, kneeling squats and calf raises. A couple of sets of 30 seconds twice a week will go a long way in developing the required flexibility.

In addition I recommend the following static stretches or variations thereof be incorporates for 2-3 sets of 20 seconds a few times per week.

Hamstring Stretch

Glute Stretch

Hip Adductors


Hip Flexor stretch

Tensor Fascia Lata