Examining the Role of High Knee Lift in Sprinting

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    tkaberna on #118741

    Haven’t read through the entire post but here is my .02 with your questions.

    Improving Front Side Mechanics – Show video and educate on why it is better. Give cues to get them in the right positions.

    I feel strongly at the high school and club level that you should cue and it makes them better. This would be after a powerpoint and showing film of fast people and how they look as well as using cues.

    My cues for max velocity which may or may not help with front side mechanics. I give one at a time through 60m at 80%.
    1. Toe up
    2. Step over opposite knee.
    3. At toe off don’t let foot dangle back there, be 70% frontside to 30% backside.
    4. Hips are a bucket of water dont allow them to spill out the front. Tuck hips under. Squeeze butt and abs.
    5. Get your lower back flattened out. No curvature in.
    6. Get hips as high as possible while up tall.
    7. Get knees to parallel to the ground.
    8. Drive knees up fast as possible.
    9. Drive knees down and dont let gravity do it for you.
    10. Strike ground with foot so that you bounce off of the ground.
    11. Keep shin perpendicular to the ground so that you are not throwing your bottom half of leg out in front of you.

    Obviously many of these are the same but I use them all because some work for some kids while kids will react to others more positively. I have more for the upper body too but I am not sure if it will help with frontside.

    If you are strict with the warmup with watching it and making sure the kids are hitting the right positions there can be cross over especially if you connect it later on when working running mechanics with the athletes.

    MBZweifel@dbq.edu on #118743

    Great ques, haven’t heard of some of those. Sounds like you do a great job with your athletes.

    My debate is whether running with focus on great frontside mechanics (high knees) = you’ll run fast(er)
    or whether being fast = you’ll run with great fronstdie mechanics.

    I know it’s the whole chicken or the egg, but from my experiences it is just soo hard for cueing to transfer over to competition. Either they focus on the knee lift and they lose other mechanics and run slow because they are thinking to much, or they just revert back to their old habits.

    I mean just think about how hard it can be to change a high school kids shooting form in basketball. It takes thousands upon thousands of reps, and in basketball you can take a 1,000 shots a day, 7 seven days a week with very little stress/fatigue. While in sprinting it’s hard to get in 1,000 quality contacts in a whole week without causing big CNS fatigue/stress.

    Now it sounds like many of you have great success with cueing and that athletes pick up on those cues and run faster. That just hasn’t been the case for athletes I’ve worked with. I work hard at it too, but when it comes down to nut-cutting time, theres a big tendency to revert to what is most natural.

    I will say that I have found wickets or mini hurdle runs to be more effective than cueing. Maybe because running over the hurdles is basically an external cue and transfers over better? But my focus has shifted to more on improving other speed qualities (GRF, strength, stiffness, P-Chain, Psoas) and just making sure they are in a good body position to let these qualities take over during sprinting.

    Maybe I’m totally off base, but I really appreciate the discussion, good info being thrown around

    tkaberna on #118744

    I have had kids be fast with backside mechanics and frontside mechanics. They changed mechanics and they were still fast. I coach jumps mostly and can say they will have a much harder time jumping well with crazy backside mechanics than with frontside mechanics so I make my kids change.

    I would say your answer lies in watching the best every year in HS, College and elite and you will get your answer. Not many running with backside mechanics because of the problems it causes up and down the chain.

    Maybe you just haven’t made a good enough argument and explained well enough why you want frontside mechanics. If they buy into what you are saying they will make the changes unless you are just cueing them wrong. Hell I fib to my kids about things to get them to change because I am not smart enough sometimes to have all of the answers of the why but I know what they need to do better. So tell them that guys that run frontside can exhibit 30% more force into the ground with the higher knee lift thus running faster.

    I have seen kids go from backside to frontside in a matter of weeks so to be honest I don’t think it is something you need thousands of reps for at least in kids that are high school or younger.

    Chad Williams on #118746

    Dusting off my keyboard for this one . . .

    I have found two drills that help. Increasing speed high knee drills and running over halfed tennis balls at progressive increasing distances. Like Michael, I have found that an object helps aids this process of the knee lift. Issues such as strength and posture greatly effect running style. Their true running form will show up in how they exist in daily life. Carrying a heavy satchel all day will certainly aid in back side mechanics :). Teach posture in everything and running will follow.

    I agree with the thousands of reps. You can get a hundred in each practice between high knees and cone drills. Visual change during practice can come rather quickly. Race posture and overall posture can take longer. Reps needs to be at Max in order to elicit true change, but I have always liked, “fake it till they make it.” Good physios aid the posture process as the musculature of the individual needs to be in balance.

    Changing jumpers v. changing sprinters, IMHO, is a little different. No gun goes off and rattles the nerves on the runway. Control is much easier to maintain. Change in a race setting takes longer.

    the_chosen_one on #118747

    If anyone gets a chance, you should ask Loren Seagrave about thigh acceleration & thigh pop. From what I know, he teach and examines thigh acceleration during the recovery and not high knees. Maybe Mike can get his take on this since he’s teach with him.

    W.E. Price on #118750

    If anyone gets a chance, you should ask Loren Seagrave about thigh acceleration & thigh pop. From what I know, he teach and examines thigh acceleration during the recovery and not high knees. Maybe Mike can get his take on this since he’s teach with him.

    When you say examines “thigh acceleration” is this more akin with angular velocity of the thigh in the propulsion phase or back-swing velocity after touchdown or toe-off?

    Paolo Taboga on #230770

    Good article!

    “By flexing the ipsilateral hip! As one hip extends aggressively, the other should flex aggressively.”

    Do you mean “contralateral hip”?

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #230978

    Thanks for catching that mistake!

    ELITETRACK Founder

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