2SP POWER BLOG

in     by Joe Neal 03/07/2017
0

 

Sprinting is so basic that it tends to be hard to improve. But the Number 1 thing to understand about improving sprinting is...

IT'S A PROCESS

What is speed? Speed can be represented in many ways. For example: the velocity of a moving object, the rate of change by a moving object, and for the purpose of this post: the time taken for an object to cover any given distance.

Over my 10 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach I have never met anyone involved in high level athletics that has said “I am fast enough.” There is a need for speed and most often improving it comes down to the 1%'s; the marginal gains that come from paying attention to detail.

Many sport disciplines dictate a certain process. For example, to hit a baseball with the highest amount of force a batter must progress through several stages. He needs to load his hands, drive his legs, etc. in order to strike the ball properly. All successful hitters have a set of fundamentals in common.

Sprinting is no different from any other athletic discipline.

 

ALL TOP SPRINTERS OWN A SET OF FUNDAMENTAL MECHANICS

 

Listed below are what I believe to be the top three fundamental mechanics all athletes should practive and improve on to ensure a more effective and efficient sprint.

Top 3 Fundamental Mechanics

  1. Body Position
  2. Arm Swing
  3. Foot Strike

BODY POSITION

Acceleration Phase - The point at which everything is going forward

  • OCCURS DURING SPRINT: Start (First 10-15 yards)

  • PROPER BODY ANGLE: 45°

  • PROPER SHIN ANGLE: 45° with shins parallel to one another

  • PURPOSE: Allows the body to break its inertia and drive force into the ground properly (backward and down)

  • GROUND CONTACT TIME: Longer during acceleration

 

Acceleration Phase Body Position. Body is 45° in relation to the ground, shins are parallel to one another.

 

Top Speed Phase - The point at which the entire body is obtaining a completely upright and tall position

  • OCCURS DURING SPRINT: Middle to End

  • PROPER BODY ANGLE: 180° - Completely Upright

  • PROPER SHIN ANGLE: Vertical at foot contact

  • PURPOSE: Allows legs to produce proper hip extension therefore producing an increased horizontal driving force during foot strike

  • GROUND CONTACT TIME: Reduced in top speed

 

Top Speed Phase Body Position. Body is upright and tall, shin of ground contact leg is vertical.

 


ARM SWING

The term drive in sprinting refers to the application of force by extension at a joint. Emphasis of the arm swing during a sprint should be placed on driving the elbows down and back. Recoil of the arm is accomplished by the stretch reflex of the anterior deltoid and pectoral muscles.

Proper Position During Start

 
 
  • Back arm extended up to 120°; Front arm bent 60-90°

  • Back arm throws high and back as far as possible

  • Front arm reaches as high as the ear

  • PURPOSE: Allows the body to break inertia and generate maximal force back with drive leg. A longer arm swing equals long leg drive and extension. The lengthened arm swing essentially buys the opposing leg more time to generate force.

Acceleration Phase Arm Swing. Back arm is extended high behind torso with an approximately 120° angle at elbow; Front arm reaching around chin level with 60-90° angle at elbow. 

 

Proper Position During Top Speed

  • Loose 90° bend at elbow with hands relaxed

  • Front hand moves as high as the chin

  • Back elbow moves as high as the shoulder

  • PURPOSE: Allows the body to create powerful and balanced leg turnover and better front side leg mechanics

 

Top Speed Phase Arm Swing. Elbow flexion around 90°, front hand is reaching chin height, back elbow is around shoulder height.

 


FOOT STRIKE

The foot is always underneath and behind the hips (limits deceleration of the body).

  • PROPER FOOT POSITION: Dorsiflexed
  • PURPOSE DURING ACCELERATION PHASE: Allows the body to break inertia and dive force back into the ground

 Foot is in dorsiflexed position and under the hips. 

 

  • PURPOSE DURING TOP SPEED PHASE: Allows the body to achieve top speed and reduce breaking mechanisms.

 

Foot stays underneath hip, does not over-reach (see photo below).

 

Common Heel Strike Issue

 

Over striding. Foot is out in front of the hips, promotes deceleration of the body.

 

Often athletes are so concerned with getting to the finish first that they loose site of the process. Winning the race consistently can only be achieved when the fundamentals are understood and executed properly. Like any other athletic discipline, practice can improve your ability to perform. You have to earn it and compete.

 

In Part 2 I will discuss my Top 4 drills for improving these fundamentals.

 

Bibliography:

Seagrave, Loren. Neuro-Biomechanics of Maximum Velocity Sprinting

Kraaijenhof, Henk.  What We Need is Speed

 

 

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