Unicorns, Show Ponies, & The Mythical Straight Leg Bound Progression

Posted by Latif Thomas

In 2012 I spoke at the MF athletic All Star Track and Field Clinic in Atlantic city.

I roomed with Tony Veney. If you’ve ever roomed with Tony Veney, it is quite the experience! (Don’t be mad at me Tony!)

During one of my breaks, I had the opportunity to sit in on a lecture being given by Caryl Smith Gilbert. I knew she was a Tony Wells disciple, but I didn’t know much else.

What I did know was how fast her sprinters were running and I was interested in what she was doing. One thing she did spend a good deal of time on was the elastic strength / strength endurance / straight leg bound progression she did in the fall.

The main thing I remembered was that they progressed up to 18 x 90m(!) straight leg bounds by the end of the fall.

I emailed her (twice) but never heard back. No problem. After all, if you’ve ever tried to get ahold of me you know it’s practically impossible. I don’t do it on purpose. It’s just a character flaw.

Well, I finally have it.

See that’s one of the coolest things about being head honcho at Complete Track and Field:

I can get elite coaches to create full programs that address the very topics I want to learn more about and/or fill in the gaps in my knowledge base and program.

With Kebba Tolbert’s new program ‘Specific Endurance Development for Sprints and Hurdles’, the biggest takeaway or main thing I learned/added/improved is in the area of using elastic strength activities both *as* workouts and at the end of workouts.

For example, here’s one of the slides where he shows some examples of where he includes this type of work when doing specific endurance with his primary event 100m sprinters:

Kebba Tolbert Specific Endurance Development

Specific Endurance Development for 100m Sprinters

Obviously, without context or the 'reason why', these workouts don't tell you much. And this isn't even where/how/when he uses the SLB progression.

Speaking of which, here's the other thing I learned:

When it comes to wanting to know more about incorporating elastic strength development, I'm not alone.

The other day I sent out a clip from the program. When coaches got to the segment of Kebba going into the details of the progression the number of views and rewatches spiked dramatically.

(I track everything. At practice and at work. Otherwise, what is the basis of any decision I make? A wild guess? No thank you.)

If you missed it, here's the clip:


Like he says, it's really been helpful in helping my athletes finish by focusing on posture and vertical pushing. Though I don't go all the way out to 90m with my high school kids. And certainly not in a hallway, even if I had the space. And I sure don't.

Instead, I went out to 30m with my first year athletes and up to 50m with my more experienced sprinters and hurdlers,

The full segment is pure gold. And that's one of the greatest aspects of Kebba's program:

Detailed description of that entire progression is just one small section of 4 hours of nonstop 'gotta pause this and walk around my house for a few minutes trying to process what I've just learned' content.

Every time you watch, you pick up something else.

Because I watched it so many times this winter, while being inseason, it seemed like every day I picked up on something specific to issues and challenges I was dealing with in the current session or week or cycle.

So for the strength endurance / straight leg bound progression here is the first two weeks, just so you have it on 'paper':

WEEK 1: 3 [90" / 5-7'], 3 [90 / 5-7'], 3
WEEK 2: 6 [90" / 5-7'], 3

It starts to get more nuanced after that. But, I highly recommend using it with your sprinters and hurdlers.

If you want to see the rest of the progression, when he uses it, exactly what he expects to gain from it, and why he *doesn't* use it every year, then order Specific Endurance Development for Sprints and Hurdles: An Advanced Approach now.

Then go to the General Prep & Specific Prep video. This particular segment starts at the 13:45 mark.



Latif Thomas - Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics across the country, Latif has true passion for the sport and it definitely shows. Over the past 19 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All-State, and New England Champions in sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he can count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter.

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