I received my Freelap Sprint Coach with ten watches in the summer of 2014. Six months later, I donated my system to Coach Derks and adopted Freelap Pro Coach 424. I have a total of 12 Fx Chips which will be updated to the new & improved Fx Chips this week. My new chips actually arrived today.
I was asked to write for Freelap when Christopher Glaeser became aware of my ITCCCA article Inertia and Date-Driven Speed Training from two years ago. I don’t sell Freelap and I don’t get commission on sales but I wish I did. I promote the product because it’s good for kids.
I get questions about Freelap almost every day. Which should I buy, Sprint Coach or Pro Coach? How many watches or Fx Chips do I need? How much much does it cost? Is there a cheaper way to time 10-meter flys? Can I come by and see Freelap in action sometime?
Last year I decided to invite coaches to see my Freelap system in use. I told coaches to bring some sprinters. We ended up with around a dozen kids who had a blast. We all went out to Buffalo Wild Wings after our session. This year the demand doubled. We had nearly 30 sprinters in attendance accompanied by coaches and parents. We even had some spectators. Pierre Nealon (@StRitaTF_CoachP) and Tony Jones (@ILPTT) of Milesplit Illinois were attendance.
Unlike a track meet, we ran no races. We simply timed kids running solo.
WHY THE 10M FLY AND 30M BLOCK START?
The 10m fly is the shortest measurement of max speed. When you consider the 30 meters of acceleration prior to max speed and the 30 meters of deceleration after the fly, the entire volume of the 10m fly is 70 meters. This is debatable, but I’ve found max speed (10m fly) to be the #1 predictor of sprint success in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters. Give me six guys who run close to 0.95 and Plainfield North will place high in the 4×1, 4×2, and 4×4. We might even win a team trophy.
This is not to dismiss the importance of the drive phase. The most coachable phase of sprinting is the drive phase. I see sprinting as drive phase (block start, push-push-push) and max speed (get tall and sprint). Because the drive phase is the most coachable phase, block starts are the most under-coached phase. Do you see the paradox here? Low-information coaches are terrified to teach the fundamentals of the block start. When coaches attend clinics, they hear pseudo-experts present over-researched bullsh*t, leaving the audience twice as confused as they were previously.
Buy Freelap. Time block 30’s once per week. Show video. Give cues …
- big & strong
- split & rip
- push, push, push
- see the track
- fewest steps win
- wait for speed
- never quick and short
- run in a lane inside of a lane
- blocks at 2-feet and 3-feet
Now it gets easy. Set up Freelap for a 30-meter start. (Don’t forget to set yellow cone at 30.8 meters due to the 80 cm magnetic field.) I forgot this last year and I had to convert all my times.) Have a manager announce times and record them. Now, find a chair and record the starts of your athletes with your iPad or iPhone. Your athletes will get instant feedback when they hear their time. In addition, show them video of their block start. Keep your coaching to yourself and let the athlete do their own critique (I learned this from my son, Alec). If the athlete asks questions, answer them. Huh? Student-centered learning? Students taking ownership in their own education? Blasphemy!
“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” ~ Thomas Carruthers
Oh, by they way, we are not just working on technique here. Sprinters get faster by sprinting. If someone tells you that sprinters get fast by body-building and “hard work” a.k.a. volume training, tell them to return to their cave. The dumbest coaches on the planet are experts at getting kids tired and sore.
When I was a head basketball coach circa 1984, my freshman coach was a good ol’ boy from Hardin County (the land that time forgot). Once he told me, “we missed 20 lay-ups last night … today we won’t touch a basketball, I’m going to run them until they drop.” I replied, “Maybe you should practice lay-ups?” How many track coaches brag about their hard workouts? How many football coaches brag about their devastating weight room sessions? Idiots.
Sprinters get fast when they sprint and jump. Sprinters get faster when they wear spikes and get timed. Simple. A devastating workout on Monday ruins workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You can’t sprint with “booty-lock”.
My kids train at 100 mph so that 80 mph feels comfortable. I feel sorry for those who train at 30 mph.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM FREELAP TIMES?
Usain Bolt ran 0.81 once when he ran 9.58 in Berlin 2009. Bolt ran 3.71 in the 30m block start (adjusted to take away reaction time) in Beijing 2008. Both times, as far as I know, are the best ever recorded.
Considering Bolt’s times, his Freelap 30 block start would be, at best 3.71, add 0.15 for reaction time when running a gun-started race, then add 0.81 x 7 (70 meters at 0.81) for a total of 9.53. Bolt would probably never run 9.53 in the 100 meters, but this would be his best possible time.
Let’s try this with some of the athletes attending the Freelap Sprint Showcase. (See this spreadsheet for everyone’s times.)
- Tyrin Thurman (3.83 + 0.15) + (7 x 0.89) = 10.21
- Brandon Stryganek (3.91 + 0.15) + (7 x 0.94) = 10.64 … ran 10.27 to win Big Ten 2015
- Alonzo Taylor-Jones (3.99 + 0.15) + (7 x 0.95) = 10.79
By the way, the three guys with the fastest block starts had the fastest 10m fly times. Drive phase and max speed are obviously related.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned … we could do this again next week and times would not be the same. For some reason, sprinters are faster on some days and slower on other days. Tyrin Thurman may have been at the top of his game. My best sprinter, DeVaughn Hrobowski, was not. DeVaughn has spent the winter wrestling, not sprinting. DeVaughn’s showcase times of 4.16 and 0.98 were not as good as his personal records of 4.03 and 0.96. There is absolutely no question Brandon Streganek ran faster splits when he won the Big Ten 100 meters last May.
The important thing is running fast, staying healthy, and preparing for the championship season. My entire sprint philosophy can be summed up in this sentence …
“Sprint as fast as possible as often as possible while staying as fresh as possible.”
TRANSLATING FREELAP INTO SPRINT RELAY TIMES
Last year I had four guys with average winter 10m times as follows:
- DeVaughn Hrobowski 0.99
- Thomas Harris 0.99
- Alex Ruscitti 1.06
- Zach Shelton 1.06
The same four guys had best 30m block start times as follows:
- DeVaughn Hrobowski 4.03
- Thomas Harris 4.03
- Alex Ruscitti 4.23
- Zach Shelton 4.13
The four guys above ran 42.07 in the 4×1 and later placed 5th in the state.
The same four guys ran a school record in the 4×2 (1:27.05) and later placed 3rd in the state.
There is no question that an all-star team from this year’s sprint showcase would set IHSA records.
USE DATA TO MOTIVATE
INTERESTING PEOPLE FROM THE SPRINT SHOWCASE
Tyrin Thurman is a senior at Mt. Carmel. Tyrin broke our field house records in the 10 and the 30 ( 0.89 and 3.83). Tyrin attended the inaugural sprint showcase last winter and went 0.99 in the 10-fly. Last year, Tyrin Thurman flew under the radar running 10.98 in the 100. With the right training, Tyrin looks like the favorite to win the Class 2A sprints this year. However, Mt. Carmel is one of those schools where football blocks out the sun, one of those weight room schools. What would Tyrin Thurman do at Cahokia or Edwardsville?
Alonzo Taylor-Jones is a junior at Metea Valley. Like Tyrin Thurman, it looks like Alonzo Taylor-Jones is ready to burst onto the scene. Last summer Alonzo ran 11.20 in the 100 but his Freelap times of 0.94 and 3.99 indicate future stardom. Alonzo is coached by a good friend of mine, Joe Stevens, who buys into speed-based high-intensity low-volume training.
Aaron Harris is a senior at Lisle. Harris is coached by Hall of Famer Ken Jakalski and may emerge as the Kahmari Montgomery of Class 2A this year. Aaron’s Freelap times of 0.95 and 4.06 are as impressive as his personal records in the 100-200-400 … 11.01, 21.94, and 48.59. I’m looking forward to the match up between Tyrin Thurman and Aaron Harris at the IHSA Track & Field State Championship.
I’ve trained Michael Papper of Glenbrook North for the last two months. Michael attended the Track-Football Consortium and has bought into “Be-Activated” and speed-based training. Michael was 8th in the state last year in the long jump, going 22-1. It took Michael Papper four weeks to run under 1.00 in the 10m fly. Now Michael runs 0.94.
Justin Wolz is a senior at Minooka. Justin ran 14.53 and 38.90 last year in the hurdles. With a sprint coach like Mark Smith and a track culture as good as anywhere in the state due to Head Coach Nick Lundin, Justin Wolz will challenge the state’s best this year. Justin’s Freelap times of 0.95 and 4.09 may land him a spot on killer sprint relays.
Jeremiah Davis of Chicago Collins may be the best raw talent in the state. Last year, Jeremiah Davis ran 10.91 in the 100 without starting blocks. At the sprint showcase, Brandon Stryganek taught Jeremiah how to come out of the blocks. Jeremiah’s Freelap times of 0.95 and 4.09 will make him the guy to beat in Class 1A this year!
Only a junior, JaQuere Williams of Neuqua Valley has PRs of 11.31, 22.68, and 49.64. JaQuere Williams is faster than his personal records would suggest. Running 0.95 in the 10 meter fly indicates elite speed, 11.31 and 22.68 does not. Look for JaQuere to become a well-known name in the next two years.
Marcellus Moore goes to Heritage Grove. Heritage Grove is my neighborhood’s middle school. Marcellus is the fastest 8th grader I’ve timed with Freelap … 1.05 and 4.17. Last year Marcellus Moore ran 11.65 and 24.09 at Nationals placing 2nd and 6th among 13 year-olds. His wind-legal personal records are 11.50 and 23.86. Marcellus will be a nice addition to our track team in 2016.
Kapri Bibbs became a legend when he gained 520 yards against Oswego as a high school senior. Kapri’s highlight film is amazing.
In 2013, Bibbs led Colorado State to a win in the New Mexico Bowl and led the NCAA in touchdowns (31).
Kapri Bibbs has been a member of the Denver Broncos for the last two seasons.
Kapri Bibbs ran for PN-Track from 2008 to 2011. What were Kapri’s speed numbers in high school?
- sophomore 4.06 and 1.02
- junior 4.03 and 1.03
- senior 4.07 and 1.05
Why didn’t Kapri improve his times like the two guys in my earlier graph? First of all, Kapri was already fast as a sophomore and even though “speed grows like a tree”, it can also be said “trees don’t grow all the way to heaven”.
In addition, football players must balance size and speed. The typical college football player would not win a race against his former self. Size seldom, if ever, improves speed. Football players get bigger, better, and more durable … but they don’t get faster after a certain point … and most of them get slower. I’m actually proud of Kapri’s speed numbers because he didn’t get slower.
I have followed Brandon Stryganek since he was in high school at Stevenson. At the 2010 state meet, Brandon ran 10.92 and 21.99 for 3rd and 4th. As a senior, Brandon ran 21.91 in the 200 to place 5th. Nothing in Brandon Stryganek’s high school career indicated he’d become an All-American at the University of Illinois. Brandon’s 10.27 won the Big Ten 100m in 2015. His Freelap Sprint Showcase times were 0.94 and 3.91.
Most elite athletes are confident to the point of arrogance. It’s part of what makes them elite. Brandon Stryganek is a breath of fresh air. I wish he was on my staff. How do you explain what makes someone “a great guy”? Whatever descriptors used, they could be used to describe Brandon. Helpful, nice, humble, happy, thoughtful, great listener, articulate, … the list could go on and on. The greatest thing about the 2015 Freelap Sprint Showcase = Brandon Stryganek.
Brandon Stryganek is still on cloud-9 after winning the Big Ten 100 meter dash. To cap his terrific senior season, Illinois won the Big Ten Team Championship for the first time in 21 years. Can you imagine the celebration?
I hope to meet both Coach Turk and Coach Wheatley someday. It’s sad there is such a disconnect between high school and college track coaches.
Click here for the post-showcase interview with Milesplit: Interview
Click here for Freelap Showcase Rankings.
I’m already looking forward to the Freelap Sprint Showcase III.