The Prowler sled is a valuable training device that can be used for in-season total body training. The sled can be used to help increase strength, improve power, enhance conditioning, increase hypertrophy and burn excess body fat.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Because ground reaction force is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it, any form of training that helps increase the ability to apply horizontal force into the ground, such as pushing a sled, will help accelerate an athlete when he or she runs. The Prowler sled is an effective method of simulating the lower body mechanics of running with less wear and tear than running. The Prowler sled can be used as an effective tool to produce meaningful improvements in conditioning with athletes who are unable to run. It can also be used as an alternative conditioning method for those who can run.
Some of the benefits of using the Prowler sled as an in-season conditioning tool include:
- Most of movements in baseball are anaerobic in nature and high-intensity, short duration sled pushes can help improve anaerobic power.
- The Prowler sled is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment. Players can push and pull it. They can attach a harness and perform lateral pulls or attach TRX-like handles and perform rowing and pushing movements.
- It can be used to enhance performance and help prevent injury by developing strength and stability throughout the entire body. It can act as a safeguard against chronic injuries that result from having weak lower legs or feet.
- It can be used by athletes to mimic the lower body mechanics of running with less stress on muscles and joints of the lower body than running.
- It is an excellent way to overload the body to produce improvements in acceleration.
Regardless of whether you are using the sled to improve acceleration or physical work capacity, the resistance must be great enough to overload the movement without altering running form. To ensure maximum benefits, coaches should constantly monitor the athlete’s stance and body alignment to ensure that 1) the feet are the same width as in the running, 2) spinal alignment is neutral and remains stacked, and 3) there is good knee drive and appropriate leg extension.
Th Prowler sled can be used to train a variety of movements involving the upper body, lower body, core, or all of the above. You can attach harnesses, handles, or just put your hands on the sled to push or pull it. Varying the resistance is as easy as increasing or reducing weight, or lengthening or shortening distance depending on the desired effect. The Prowler sled is a low-risk / high-reward training option and its versatility is limited only by the coach and athlete’s imagination.
Kenny Matanane MS, RSCC, USAW, is a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach, Philadelphia Phillies