July 13, 2011 Leave a comment
At Endeavor I have currently been trying with younger athletes to really focus on a 2 sprint form tips during linear speed days. I could probably simmer it down to 1.
- Focusing the eyes on a fixed spot in order that they do not see at up or down motion.
- Instead of focusing so much on “quick arm action” just think of “hammering the nail” down and back.
Focusing the eyes is something that I think has made a positive cue for most of the young athletes because I had found that these athletes are just forcing themselves from point A to point B. In my experience these younger athletes heads are like bobble dolls. Rather, I’d rather them focus on preventing a “bopping” motion with their head to ensure a more horizontal acceleration. In the case of short 10-15 yard sprints, I would say that it is more important to get a push or drive “out” instead of driving the knees “up”. I have even started reinforcing “picking a spot” for the movement part of the warm-up (side shuffles, cariocas, butt kicks, back pedal etc.) and having them think of that spot sliding straight across. This seems to help athletes focus on pushing from the back leg for lateral movements.
The second thing I have introduced was the cue of “hammering a nail” down when the arms come down and back. Some are getting this and some are not, but when they get it, the sprint looks 10x better. Visualize holding a hammer in the hand (elbow around 90 degrees) and picture a nail sticking out (nail head facing forward) beside the hip. Basically you want to envision hammering that hand down and back into the nail. Stride length is determined by how much force you are putting into the ground and small short arm action drives small short leg action. A smooth arm hammering down may drive a better hip extension which can increase stride length. I also think that being in a facility where you are trying to teach acceleration for athletes, especially younger ones, the sprint form can go overlooked, and certainly we want these athletes not to look like the terminator while running (I would say because it might not be natural, what do you think?) but you do not want them looking like a complete mess either. So these cues can provide some bang for your buck because it is not overloading an athlete and in this setting it seems to work pretty darn good. Try these when you just normally run or are doing sprints and see what you think. In summary though, if anything, these tips can help athletes focus on running smoother because a lot of young athletes seem to run wild with their arms or have excessive head motion.