A great infographic from @scienceforsport highlighting some of the foundational components of sprinting.
This infographic simply breaks down sprinting into 3 KEY GOALS:⠀-⠀
➡️ Projection 👉or horizontal force⠀
➡️ Switching 🦵how the limbs coordinate
➡️ Reactivity 🦶physical stiffness/tension-⠀
How do YOU break down this activity when coaching it to athletes?
Essentially by breaking it down into it’s parts.
Now there’s never one perfect way to get a result, and each athlete is going to be different. Some pick up the stiffness element really easily, others don’t. Others are quite uncoordinated, while for some it’s completely natural and its hard to understand why someone else can’t do it.
Sprinting is a skill, and therefore, like playing an instrument, it requires practice.
Great drills for understanding and building horizontal projection are wall drills, sled pushes and banded sprints. There is an element of resistance to all of these, and with correct coaching, the athlete should be able to understand the required ‘feeling’ or activation required from their toe to their head. We’re building new neurological pathways here, as well as the ability to recruit more muscle groups and units and having them work together.
When I was younger, sprinting was a matter of just trying to move my arms and legs as fast as possible. No thought of coordination. And this is how most young athletes operate. This is the most useful part of running ‘technique’ training for young athletes.
Learning how to interchange your legs at speed and drive through the ground, coordinate the arms, and as an extension of the above, lateral drills as well. Ideal drills here are again wall drills, open drills like A & B-Skips, sleds and banded sprints.
In this context, reactivity is a little different to how you might normally think. Here we’re going to talk about reactivity more as ‘pre-tensioning’ and the ability of the muscle fibres to produce force rapidly from the time they absorb force (or stretch) to when they produce force (shorten), also known as ‘stretch-shortening’ or ‘stiffness’. Most of this is done through the feet, ankles and calves, although is relevant to other body parts for different sports (ie a throwing sport and the shoulder).
If you’re a slower twitch, longer distance grinder, it’s likely you will pick this up a little slower (no pun intended) than people with fast-twitch fibers. But you can get there. This is where your various plyometrics come into play. Pogo’s, bounding, jumping & hurdles all help to build this ‘stiffness’.
These 3 fundamental elements, when learned and built on will form a strong foundation from which your sprinting and speed is guaranteed to improve.