probably heard the saying "Sprinters are born and not made."
This is true to a certain extent, but don't neglect working with your
sprinters on other things besides starts and relay exchanges. Speed
can be improved through an increase in stride strength and an increase
in stride frequency.
help your sprinters improve these two variables through extensive training
in flexibility, strength and running technique.
Involved In Sprinting and Starting
The sprinter does not run on the toes. Ideally, the foot should make
contact with the ground on the outside edge and rotate inward with and
outside edge, heel toe movement. The foot makes contact with the ground
slightly ahead of the center of gravity to allow the sprinter to push
off into the next stride.
Knee lift in sprinting is natural. It is an extension of proper foot
placement and lift off of the track. The knee should be lift only high
enough for maximum stride length. Be careful not to only stress knee
lift as this will result in the upper body becoming upright which is
highly ineffective. Proper
foot placement and drive from the ground results in proper knee lift.
The trail leg is also very natural in its movement. It is in reaction
to the drive of the opposite leg. The harder the drive, the greater
the bend will be. Strength and flexibility will also influence the fold
of the leg.
The arms are used to counteract the twisting and untwisting of the
trunk caused by the leg action so that the sprinter will stay properly
balanced. Concentrate on the backward movement of each arm. If one arm
is swung back the other will go forward naturally to conteract its movement.
The hands should be about level with the shoulders when in front of
the body and the upper arm almost parallel to the ground when in its
Do not clench the fists or let the hands flop at the wrist. Have your
sprinter loosely curl the fingers with the thumbs resting lightly on
the index fingers. Keep the thumb and index finger contact light. So
light in fact that the sprinter should be able to carry a potato chip
between them and not break it.
Faster speeds require a greater body lean. The lean will come automatically
with acceleration. The sprinters lean will vary according to their normal
posture, flexibility, speed at the time, physical condition and wind
and weather conditions.
The head is held in a natural position with the eyes focused straight
ahead. The head and back are in alignment with the face, jaws, and neck
as relaxed as possible. Relaxation at top speed is the key to maintaining
correct form. This is only accomplished through quality sprint workouts
under simulated competitive conditions.
is relatively easy to learn and very rarely has a great deal to do with
the final outcome of a race. Yet it is probably the most worked on phase
of sprinting. The purpose of the start is not to be the first one out
of the blocks, but to put the sprinter in the proper running position
within four strides after the start.
Set the front of the blocks one step from the starting line. Have your
sprinter step several yards in front of the blocks in his lane to make
sure they are in a straight line and then secure to the track. The front
block is set by placing the elbow on the starting line and extending
the arms and fingers back. Where the fingers come to rest is where the
front block is set. The rear block is set by getting into the "on
the marks" position. The knee of the free leg is placed on the
track parallel to the front block placement. Where the foot of the free
leg comes to rest is where the rear block is set.
Just before the race is set to begin, the starter tells everyone to
stand behind their blocks. On the "on your mark" command the
sprinter should walk in front of their blocks and then back into them
by placing the lead leg on the block first and then the rear leg.
are placed behind the starting line with the index fingers and thumbs
parallel to the starting line. The arms are straight with the elbows
locked. The hands should be shoulder width apart.
sprinter assumed this position, he should lean forward and place his
body weight on his hands. The sprinter does this so that on the "get
set" command the sprinter only needs to raise the hips. Point the
knees slightly in so that the feet will drive straight out on the track.
On the "get set" command the hips are raised to a point slightly
higher than the shoulders so that the trunk is gently sloped downward.
The back is flat and the head is in natural alignment with the trunk.
The back leg should have an angle of approximately 120° and the
front leg less than 90°.
should be concentrating on their actions once the gun is fired, not
on the sound of the gun. Once the gun sounds there should be a strong
pushing action of the front leg. The sprinter should not step out with
the rear leg. The arm opposite the rear leg is driven to a point where
the upper arm is parallel to the track. Do not stand up immediately,
stay low and gradually become upright within 5 strides after the start.
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