This is the final post in my series on Running a Faster 40 yard dash. Following the transition to upright running mechanics, the athlete enters what is known as the maximal velocity portion of the forty yard dash. For some athletes, this may last only 10-15 yards. This portion of the race is characterized by an upright posture, vertical force application, and high knees.
When the athlete finishes their transition phase they should be upright and running tall. Similar to what was required in achieving the ‘power line’ in earlier portions of the test, athletes should now attempt to maximize what is called front side mechanics and minimize what is referred to as backside mechanics. Front side mechanics refers to the movement of the leg that occurs in front of the body. Backside mechanics refers to the movement of the leg that occurs behind the body. Ideally, when the runner is upright and sprinting at maximum velocity, the swing leg should be characterized by a high knee action in front of the body, a ground contact placement almost directly underneath the hips, and the head, spine, and pelvis should be vertically ‘stacked’ with a neutral postural alignment. When in support, the athlete’s leg should be as stiff as possible and the hips should remain high. These characteristics are largely the result of the athlete’s eccentric strength and power capacities as well as how well they prepare for ground contact during the flight phase. At the conclusion of the ground support phase the athlete should actively flex the hip to minimize backside mechanics.