With Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard watching, Cornelius Wortham leads off ahead of Charlie Peprah on the 40-yard dash. Connected together by a bungee cord, the front man begins slightly ahead, pulling the man behind faster than he could go on his own. Though it looks easy, the activity is actually fairly demanding on the nervous system, and Pollard only uses it once a week.
Redshirt freshman tight end Clint Johnston leads with senior Theo Sanders behind. The front man runs approximately five yards before the trailer begins, building up tension in the cord, which pulls the second athlete along. It's called "overspeed training," and the principle is simple. Muscles can only accomplish what they are trained to do, and the only way to "learn" how to run faster is by actually doing it.
Mark Anderson (left), a redshirt freshman Rover, and Max Skembo (right), a walk-on QB out of Texas, lead off. The front men train for power--very similar to linemen pulling weighted sleds. But as their muscles are forced to turn over quicker than they are used to, it's the trailing athlete whose speed benefits.
Sam Collins leads off with Triandos Luke behind. Actually, Luke has started too soon, evidenced by the slack in the cord. The athletes begin 15 yards apart, and ideally that distance stretches to 20 yards as the lead man starts first. "Overspeed" training can also be accomplished by running downhill, but there are no available hills near the Tide training complex.
As Cornelius Wortham is pulled along by the cord, his body is forced to increase the frequency of his stride. Pulled along at a faster rate than they can achieve on their own, the athletes are working to improve their top-end speed.
Hooked up to his partner by the cord, Anthony Madison waits to begin his run. An athlete that might run in the low 4.4s on his own, can be clocked in the mid 4.2s during this exercise.