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SPRINT MECHANICS:
WHAT TO LOOK FOR & HOW TO
EFFECTIVELY MAKE CHANGES!
Mike Young, PhD
HPC - Athletic Lab
Cary, NC
@mikeyoung
#speedsummit
•General Concepts of Sprinting
•Motor Learning Fundamentals
•Optimizing Acceleration Mechanics
•OptimizingTransition Mechanics
•Optimizing MaxV Speed Mechanics
•Take Home Points
GENERAL
CONCEPTS OF
SPRINTING
by
Hugo Faasta
BACK SIDE MECHANICS
Refers to the
motions of the swing
leg that occurs
BEHIND the body
FRONT SIDE MECHANICS
Refers to the
motions of the swing
leg that occurs IN
FRONT of the body
ACCELERATION
CHARACTERISTICS
• Velocity @10m: ~8.2 m/s!
• Ground ContactTime: ~0.17 sec!
• Height of foot @ 1st step: 12-30cm!
• Stride Frequency: 3.6-4 Hz!
• Stride Lengths: ~1.5m first step
*MaximalVelocity: ~12.8 m/s!
!
!
*Ground ContactTime: ~0.08 sec!
*40-45 steps for sub 9.80 100m
*Stride Frequency: ~5 Hz!
!
!
*StrideVelocity: ~300 deg / sec!
*Stride Lengths: 2.25-2.7m
MAXIMALVELOCITY CHARACTERISTICS
KINETIC PARAMETERS
• Ground reaction forces
approaching 5x bodyweight!
• Muscle forces in excess of
7x bodyweight
Sprinting 101
Small Mass
+
Big Force
+
Right Direction
+
Minimal Time
Run Faster
• To increase running speed an athlete must increase force to
the ground in the appropriate direction and do so over
increasingly shorter periods of time!
• Minimize horizontal braking forces*!
• Increase propulsive forces
FORCE DEVELOPMENT & SPRINTING
Horizontal vsVertical Propulsive Forces....!
and why you don’t have to pick a side
VERTICAL FORCE
MATTERS…
Rela%onships,among,jumping,performances,and,sprint,parameters,
during,maximum,speed,phase,in,sprinters,,by,Kale,,Asci,,Bayrak,and,
Acikada,,in,Journal,of,Strength,and,Condi%oning,Research,,2009!
from Strength & Conditioning Research
…BUT SO DOES
HORIZONTAL FORCE
THE LEG AS A SWINGING
SPRING
• Refers of the ability of the leg to act as like a spring
• Momentum is developed during acceleration
• Body will move at same rate unless acted on by
unbalanced forces
• Two external forces will cause deceleration
• Leg stiffness increases vertical impulse, shortens ground
contact and increases elastic return
INCREASE LEG STIFFNESS
• Increased vertical force
produces:!
• Greater displacement!
• Stiffer spring!
• Better maintenance of
momentum
VERTICAL FORCE
PRODUCTION
Vertical
Displacement?
The path of COM will follow a sinusoidal
curve when viewed in the sagittal plane
COM reaches apex in flight
COM low point during support
Vertical force production is
the key component of top-end
speed and that in turn
influences the ability to
maintain a slight increase in
stride length and stride
frequency
Dan Pfaff
Charlie Francis
To go faster, you need
more force. The more
force you apply, the
higher you will rise off
the ground.
Better sprinters may
appear to bounce
In reality, flight times are similar and
ground contact times are shorter
• Stride frequency is comprised of two components: !
1. Ground contact time !
2. Flight time!
• The best sprinters spend less time on the ground !
◦ Greater frequency
MORE SPRINT MATH
The benefit of greater force application is two-fold:!
• Increased stride length • Increased stride frequency
STRIDE LENGTH
&
FREQUENCY
To run faster there is only ONE solution
Apply More Mass
Specific Force to
the Ground!
Motor
Learning
Sprinting is an extremely complex motor task
involving repeated rapid ‘switching on and off’
of practically every muscle in the body
Dr. Ralph Mann
Sprinting fast is an
unnatural activity
Loren Seagrave
TRUE learning is
assessed by retention
Things to Consider
Intrinsic
vs.
Augmented feedback
Knowledge of results
vs.
Knowledge of performance
Novice
vs.
Expert
X
Internal vs External Cues
Feedback
Frequency
Clear.
Concise.
Concrete.
Accelerate like a
plane taking off
Elbow the short person
Hit the ground like
a sledge hammer
You’re running like
a hamster in a
spinning wheel
Make your legs
like pistons
Good Feedback is like Triage…
Don’t fix a hangnail before a heart attack
Optimizing
Mechanics
General Sprinting
Mechanics
•Better sprinters are front-side
dominant
•Better sprinters have shorter
contact times
•Full extension neither needed
nor beneficial
•Ideal touchdown characterized
by swing knee even with
support knee
POS TU URE
The first most
important
aspect of speed
is posture.
TomTellez
Posture is like the mast and rudder for the limbs
Posture
Trunk Erect
Head Level
Hips Tall
Posture
• Movements of the limbs
originate from the core of
the body!
• Proper stabilization and
alignment of the core
ensures appropriate
movements of the limbs
POSTURE
PELVIC TILT
Posterior Tilt = less
hamstring tension,
more QFM tension!
Anterior Tilt = more
hamstring tension, less
QFM tension
Acceleration:
What to See.
What to Say.
What to See
• Big split of arms & legs
• Forward lean (from the ankles)
• Neutral postural alignment
pushing through long axis of
body
• ‘Complete’ pushes & triple
extension
• Low heel recovery
• Gradual progression of body
angles
What to Say
• “Knees to chest”
• “Shade the sun”
• “Feel the feet behind you”
• “Push the ground away”
• “Legs like pistons”
• “Push, Push, PUSH!”
• “Drag the toe” (even though you
don’t want them to)
• “Step over the ankle”
• “Push yourself up”
Transition:WhatToSee.WhattoSay.
What to See
• Continued progression of
body angles
• Preservation of posture
• Gradual changes in limb
movement magnitude
• Progressively higher heel
recovery during swing phase
What to Say
• “Push yourself tall”
• “Tuck the hips”
• “Cheek to cheek”
• “Step over the ankle, step
over the calf, step over the
heel”
Top Speed: What To See. What To Say.
EFFECTIVE GROUND
CONTACT POSITION
What to See
• Upright posture
• Powerful & dynamic arm swing (not
locked at 90 deg)
• High knee recovery
• Front side dominance
• Relaxation in face, shoulders, hands
• Foot contact under the hips
• ~Vertical shin angle at GCT
• Pre-activation prior to contact
What to Say
• “Balance a bowl on your head”
• “Slam the elbows down”
• “Step over the knee”
• “Feel everything in front”
• “Imaging you have a rubber band
from you heel to your butt”
• “Make your eyelids jiggle”
• “Run tall and bounce”
• “Push up” ….or “Push down”
• “Be a super bouncy ball”
Creating a learning
environment
Creating a learning
environment
Try to coach without “coaching” by
creating an environment that
facilitates motor learning
Create contextual
interference by varying
trial type & order
Tools & specific
environments can
make motor patterns
idiot proof
Block Serial Random
Falling Start! Falling Start! Crouch Start
Falling Start! Crouch Start Falling Start!
Falling Start! Starting Blocks Crouch Start
Falling Start! Falling Start! Starting Blocks
Crouch Start Crouch Start Falling Start!
Crouch Start Starting Blocks Starting Blocks
Crouch Start Falling Start! Crouch Start
Crouch Start Crouch Start Falling Start!
Starting Blocks Starting Blocks Starting Blocks
Starting Blocks Falling Start! Crouch Start
Starting Blocks Crouch Start Starting Blocks
Starting Blocks Starting Blocks Falling Start!
Increase Contextual Interference to Enhance Skill Acquisition
Practice Variability?
Increasing Variability Enhances Learning
Surface
Weather
Block position
Gun vs Clap
Alone or with partner
FRAMEWORK FOR SKILL
ACQUISITION
Contextual Interference
Movement
& Task
Variability
Low Practice
Variability
Beginners
Experts
Intermediate
High Practice
Variability
Low
Contextual
Interference
High
Contextual
Interference
Wu, 2008
Use Tools And
environments
that facilitate
learning
SPRINTING IS A SKILL
SPRINTING FASTER IS THE RESULT OF PUTTING MORE FORCE IN
TO THE GROUND AT AS LITTLE BODY MASS AS POSSIBLE
BETTER PRACTICE DESIGN IMPROVES SKILL ACQUISITION WHICH
ALLOWS MOVEMENT TO BE AUTOMATIC, REFLEXIVE & EFFICIENT
THE WAY A MESSAGE IS DELIVERED IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS
THE MESSAGE
UNDERSTAND THE BASICS OF MOTOR LEARNING BEST
PRACTICES
@MIKEYOUNG!
ATHLETICLAB.COM!
ELITETRACK.COM!
FITFORFUTBOL.COM!
HPCSPORT.COM!
SLIDESHARE.NET/HPCSPORT!
THANKS

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Coaching Sprint Mechanics. What to look for. What to say.