Troubleshooting Sprinting Mechanics

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No two athletes run exactly the same; however sprinting mechanics should remain the same for all athletes. This article examines how to identify and troubleshoot flaws in mechanics and offers correct technique suggestions for the six major areas of sprinting mechanics.

Arm Action
If the athlete runs with tense arms, have them practice loose, swinging movements from a standing position. Remember to have them swing from the shoulder and keep the arms relaxed and at approximately 90° of flexion at all times. Although the arms work in opposite direction to the legs, they must be coordinated with the action of the legs for maximum sprinting efficiency.

Body Lean
The athlete’s body should have a slight forward lean (no more than 4-6°). It is important to note that the angle of lean comes from the ground and not from the waist. The lean is caused by displacing the athlete’s center of gravity in the direction they are running and leaning and bending from the waist will interfere with the correct mechanics of sprinting.

Foot Contact
DO NOT RUN UP ON YOUR TOES!!! The toes offer no power or stability to the runner and if they run on their toes, they will not be able to run fast. Instead, have them stay on the balls of their feet and push against the ground, but don’t reach and pull toward the ground; this strategy will result in injuries and poor sprinting mechanics and slow times.

This is the worst and most often misunderstood element of sprinting. Don’t have them reach and overstride to increase stride length, but rather have them pus against the ground and let the foot land underneath the center of gravity. Any placement of the foot in front of the center of gravity will cause "braking forces" that will result in the body slowing down.

Try to prevent being too quick because too much turnover will cause the athlete to run fast in one place and not much ground will be covered. Remember that quality sprint speed is a combination of stride length and stride frequency and one does not replace the other.

Don’t try to power through a race or sprint effort. To run fast, stay relaxed, running tight will result in slower times.


Shawn Dassie, MS, CSCS
Sprinting Pro Trainer
Director Of Physical Enhancement
Siouxland Acceleration: Fitness & Athletic Enhancement

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