How to Run Fast

In evaluating and teaching high-speed running mechanics, the coach must

give the athletes key points on which to concentrate and consciously focus as

they learn to re-program their motor patterns. It is useful to break down the

movement in a way that is consistent with a systematic teaching progression. We

use six reference points or foci for developing the conceptual technical model, in

the teaching progression employed, during video analysis to show faults and

causes, and in making corrections. These six foci are:


1. Body Position – This is the most central focus for changes in the technical

model and thus for improving performance. If the athlete cannot execute the

correct body position with a high degree of skill, it is nearly impossible to

optimize the other five foci. Conscious competence in this area must quickly give

way to unconscious competence.

2. Recovery Mechanics – This is the first phase of the high-speed running

cycle movement. Often thought of as a passive movement and traditionally called

the “swing phase”, the mechanically efficient recovery of the limb sets up the

other phases of the running stride for higher levels of mechanical efficiency.

3. Transition Phase – This is the phase of the running cycle where an abrupt

change of direction of a limb must take place. Faults are often easily recognized

in this phase, but they are almost always a product of a cause that is 180° on the

other side of the stride cycle.

4. Ground Preparation Phase – This is the phase where the athlete must

actively prepare the foot and the leg to strike the ground. From the point of view

of determining the performance outcome, this is the second most important

phase in the running cycle.

5. Ground Phase – This is the most important phase in the running cycle. Once

the athlete leaves the ground, the flight path of the center of mass is unalterable

until the next ground force application. Therefore, getting the Ground Phase right

is essential.

6. Arm Action – This is the focus that has provoked some of the greatest

disagreements between biomechanics and coaches. Biomechanics have

contended that the arms balance the forces of the legs to support the body in

the proper alignment. Coaches however have promoted that the arms

“control the legs” and thus can positively impact performance.

At SPG we believe both are correct ! Schedule your evaluation to get  Faster Stronger Better!


About the Author: Jude Massillon

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