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4.26.2024

Speed Enhancement

A person running.

Speed of movement is determined and affected by numerous things such as genetics, fiber type, skill level, form, practice, training status, conditioning, knowledge of the sport, age and even external things such as wind, temperature, altitude, timing methods and much more.

Yet, the basic principles of sprinting are relatively simple and based upon the laws of motion. The way an athlete solves the mechanical constraints of movement and acquires the kinematics of running are individual and built upon their personal genetic traits. This individuality adds complexity to coaching the mechanics of speed development.

Speed enhancement is achieved when athletes are exposed to an increase in training load over time, as well as the biomechanics that closely resemble the actions needed for performance. Sprint drills must include targeting key technical elements ensuring crossover effects to normal sprinting.

Proper speed mechanics is a must and requires coaching a runner’s skill, as well as developing a strategy of communication, feedback and specific cues and instructions that play a role in the intricate development of movement. The following is a coaching strategy that may be used to address the biomechanics of the efficiency of speed movement to enhance performance:

A person sprinting.

1. Coaching                                                                            

The first rule in teaching mechanics to athletes is …..they must know the rules.

  • Teach the rules of running over and over
  • Ensure the athletes understand the coaching cues 
  • Have a presentation several times per year
  • Have “mechanics rules “a-z” and a written quiz several times per year

Like learning the keys on a computer keyboard, the athlete should learn each running skill, a-z.  Develop coaching drills that teach one aspect of mechanics before you begin each conditioning session.  An example of this would be,

“Today Team we will learn the Head Position a-d. We will run four specific drills. Throughout the year we will do drills from a-z. When you learn all 26 letters of Running Mechanics and do not consciously think about any of the skills and perform them all well, you will be faster,”

2. Head Position
a. Relax muscles of the face and jaw
b. Breath through mouth and nose
c. Head stationary eyes focus straight ahead
d. Head and chin should be level

3. Shoulder Position
e. Relax your neck and shoulders, do not shrug
f.  Keep shoulders square

4. Arm Position
g. Keep a 90 degree angle at the elbow
h. Keep arm position while swinging your arms at the shoulder

5. The Hand
i.  Natural relaxed hands

6. Arm Action
j.  Do not cross the centerline of your body
k. Lead hand should stop above your chin and below eye level
l.  Trail hand should end behind your hip
m. Drive trail elbow as far as you can without twisting your body
n. Swing arm from the shoulder joint

7. Rear Action of the Arms
o. Thumb brushes thigh and clears buttocks
p. Right angle during stroke
q. Allow to open only slightly
r.  Avoid excess swinging of the lower arm

8. Torso
s. Run Tall
t.  Vertical or slightly forward
u. Do not allow torso rotation
v. Do not crunch or bend backwards

9. Knee Lift
w. Knee is raised until the thigh is nearly parallel to the ground

10. Foot Placement
x. Toe is up
y. The foot should land under the hip
z. Force is applied into the ground in a down and backwards direction.

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