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The Running Form Quiz

A man performing a drill

Power, sprint-specific endurance and motor coordination are key determinants in sprint performance.  The coordinated action of the bodies limbs greatly affects the generation of power

Learning the basic actions of limb mechanics is important in reaching athletic potential.  The most significant time for fundamental movement acquisition and acquiring the skill mastery of running form is during one’s youth.  As an athlete ages sprint running technique becomes more challenging to modify.  Peak performance in world-class athletes is generally 25-26 years old, the very best improve about 8% from 18 years old on, roughly 1% per year.  For the adult athlete mechanics should be rehearsed regularly and slightly refined if and when needed.

Coaching requires verbal instruction, demonstration, practice, repetition, corrective action and written communication. To enhance the learning process having written material, a handout on running skill helps an athlete to understand the form he is trying to acquire accelerating the learning process.  Like all school work once written materials are disseminated, it is also appropriate to administer an exam or quiz and with many subjects the student also is given a practical to make evident their understanding.

The Practical: Once Off To a Quick Start when the Body becomes Vertical  be able to Pass Question #11 of the Running Form Quiz

The following is an example of a handout and quiz:


I. The Hands and Arms – The faster arms go the faster the legs go.

A. Relax your hands

1. If the hands are relaxed the chances are good the arms and shoulders will be relaxed
2. The index finger and thumb should slightly touch or the hand should remain a natural position
3. Start with your lower arm at a right angle to the upper arm  
4. Powerfully drive your hand forward no higher than your shoulder
5. Keep the right angle while vigorously pumping your arms

B. The rear action of the arm is responsible for higher knee lift

1. The thumb should almost brush your thigh on the descent of your arm
2. The downward moving hand should clear the buttocks
3. Keep the arm at a right angle during the stroke allowing the elbow to open slightly at the end of the stroke
4. Your upper arm should become almost parallel to the ground
5. Always assure that there isn’t excessive swinging of the lower arm during running maintaining the right angle of the lower and upper arm

C. Proper movement of the arms insures unnecessary rotation of the lower torso

1. While pumping your arms keep your shoulders square
2. While pumping your arms do not rotate your hips

II. Head, Neck and Shoulders – position and relaxation allows for faster movement, a more powerful stroke and greater knee lift

A. Relax muscles of the face

1. Breath through your mouth and nose
2. Relax your mouth
3. Eyes should be focused at an object at eye level straight ahead – not at your feet or upward
4. The head should always remain in a normal postural position
5. Never allow the head to rock from side to side or move up or down

B. Relax your shoulders

1. Keep your shoulders down while pumping your arms
2. Do not shrug your shoulders towards your ears
3. Relaxed shoulders allow you to pump your arms faster
4. Keep your shoulders square

III. Legs, Foot and Torso – knee lift must be without improper body rotation and the avoidance of exaggerated movements

A. The torso should be upright

1. When running the trunk should be slightly forward of vertical
2. Do not allow torso rotation
3. Do not allow bending in the middle of the torso – crunching
4. Do not allow bending backwards
5. Run tall

B. High knee lift is desirable and completion of the drive stroke or drive leg is desirable

1. Lift your knee high with a powerful stroke
2. The drive must take place wholly behind the body’s vertical line with the drive leg
3. At no time should there be an attempt to reach out with the lifted foot
4. The lifted foot should be slightly cocked or dorsiflexed
5. The returning lifted foot will land slightly ahead of the body and then will be used to drive forward


Fill in:

1. In running the faster the arms go the faster the ____________go.
2. The proper rear action of the arms is responsible for___________________________.
3. When pumping your arms your shoulders should remain________________________.
4. Proper movement of the arms ensures unnecessary rotation of the_________________.
5. How should your head , in relation to your torso, remain when running with proper form?   ________________________________________________________.

True or False:

6. You should run tall?___________.
7. You should not reach out with your lifted foot when running_____________.
8. You should not bend or crunch in the torso when running________________.
9. You should not shrug your shoulders when running_____________________.
10. You should relax your head, neck and shoulders when running____________.

Field Demonstration:

11. If you get answers 1-10 correct. Take the field – after a quick sprint start, once upright at a moderate pace, demonstrate excellent running form for 100 yards.


Freedom To Excel

The human body is described as having 6 degrees of freedom for each of its segments. Degrees of freedom refers to the number of ways a rigid body can move in three-dimensional space, up/down, left/right,  in/out and in 3 rotations;...

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