Relaxation Rates, Technique, and Coaching Rhythm


If I hand to make a comparison in the sport of track and field, I would say that on that tune Errol Garner was playing the piano the way Maurice Greene ran the 100 meters. There are short powerful thrusts,… bold, direct and distinct.

-Brooks Johnson

My swimming background and working with several state champions in the 50 free and sprint relays made me realize the value of rhythm, but I didn’t have that ability to apply that concept in sprinting on land for years. Coaching running requires very subtle cueing because the rate of contractions and the naturalness of running. I am going to do 150m repeats with a 60m athlete this week because I feel that the athlete needs to clean up his rhythm. Rhythm is the most underrated motor skill and is rarely talked about. With all the talk about cleaning up movement, it’s usually making sure they can lift up a knee for the hurdle step or other limited exercise, something that has very little bearing on real improvement. What is really exciting is the future of sensors calibrating the eyes of coaches, as the art of coaching is merging sport science and working with people and challenges. One piece of advice I wish I understood earlier was the importance of threshold speeds that allow for great relaxation rates.

I coach the relaxation run as follows. Accelerate like you are doing a 60 for 30 meters and focus on high hip position and rhythm off the curve (I like to use the curve and run a straight 100m). Is this magical? No, but I find myself believing that sub maximal speeds has some benefit besides getting in shape. The body want’s to sustain rhythm so it can improve the relaxation rates of antagonists, and adaptations observed in the research. While the effect is certainly not hypnotic, it does do a great job of clearing the mind up so it’s not overloaded with technical responsibilities. Relaxation can be considered meditation of the sprinter and it’s an important quality to work on.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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