The kneeling rotational start is an effective exercise for teaching proper body alignment and force production when accelerating from a stationary start in the frontal plane. It’s also a natural progression from kneeling starts in a sagittal plane to kneeling starts in the frontal plane.
The exercise starts with the player in a lunge position with the back leg (left or drive leg) up and the front leg (right or pivot leg) down. The knee of the front leg is 1-2 inches off the ground and the weight is on the toes of the lead foot. The arms are opposite the legs with the lead arm up and the trail arm back. The upper body is inclined slightly forward with the chest, shoulders and head up. There should be a straight line through the head, shoulders and hips.
To execute the drill, set the core, engage the glutes and then drive out across the body from the back leg. As you drive forward, extend the back hip, knee and ankle, pivot on the lead foot and pull the lead arm back and the trail arm up and forward. The back leg is the primary drive leg.
The heel of the recovery foot should remain low on take-off and gradually rise as the athlete moves forward. For max acceleration, the recovery heel should stay below the knee of the support leg for at least 5-6 steps.
Do 1×5 driving off the right leg and a second set of 5 driving of the left leg. Gradually progress to 3×5 off each leg. To improve reaction time, increase quickness and make the drill competitive, have two players face each other and have one player react to the other and race through a cone or marker 5-10 yards away.
Adam Noel, MS, RSCC is a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Texas Rangers.