Is Sprint Technique Training Necessary?

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  • Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #80178

    Found some things in print the other day that I figured would be relevant to this thread since the topic has somewhat been brought up again on the Supertraining listserv. I thought these were relevant some try to ignore or misinterpret much of what Dr. Mann’s research on sprinting has to say about mechanics.

    Question: The casual fan may think that track is about running fast. How important is biomechanics?

    Ralph Mann Answer: Sprinting is not a natural movement. In mechanical terms, it is much different than casual running. We have filmed and analyzed more than 600 of the best sprinters since 1982, and they all display the same mechanics- some better than others, but there is only one way to sprint fast.


    Question: What can young runners learn from biomechanics?

    Ralph Mann Answer: All of research and all of the years of application have shown us that if an athlete is to be successful at the level that we are seeking to achieve, no area of performance can be ignored. Since it has become evident that the development of explosive strength and the proper mechanics to deliver the power are the two most critical factors in sprint performance, ignoring either will guarantee that the athlete will not achieve their performance potential.

    Any serious sprinter needs to find a coach that understands the mechanics of sprinting (circa 2008), as well as all of the other performance factors involved.

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    Daniel Andrews on #80182

    Mike:

    What is “mechanics”? I believe it means different things to different coaches and that is part of the problem. Joint angle analysis (angle-angle diagrams and such) alone is not mechanics based or a mechanical analysis, it’s more along the lines of motor learning based research. Yet, I believe most coaches interpret “mechanics” to changes in angles without respect to changes in forces. I realize the bearpowered group makes the opposite mistakes in mechanical analysis, but maybe its time for most of us here to separate ourselves from groups which misapply mechanics by using angles only.

    Interestingly, I agree with Ralph Mann about sprinting being different from casual running (assuming he means jogging) however, sprinting is a natural movement and is no different than fast running because there is no hysteresis between fast running and sprinting.

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #80189

    How is joint angle analysis not mechanics? It’s certainly not all of mechanics but it’s definitely a big part and what 90% of track coaches are talking about when they talk about mechanics (aka sprint technique). I think it’s really a stretch to say that joint angle analysis is motor learning research. By any definition, I’d say it’s description bioMECHANICS.

    Coaches might not understand or put together then kinematic:kinetic relationship but that doesn’t matter as much if they know which kinematics makes someone run faster (via kinetics).

    I’m not in a group. I disagree with Mann on several things, as I do with Dr. Weyand’s interpretation of the data. The only person who’s jammed themselves in to a corner seem to be the Yessis and Bearpowered camps.

    Mann isn’t just comparing sprinting to casual jogging. He’s comparing it to running at 5k/10k pace too. There appears to be a change in EMG firing patterns and kinematics with elite sprinting that is more than just a gradation of distance running firing patterns and kinematics. Hysteresis is irrelevant and don’t even know how it applies to what you’re saying. Hysteresis affect would predict a change in one direction (run-to-sprint for example) that isn’t observed in the other direction (sprint-to-run). This is more applicable to walk-to-run gait transition research since 1) I’m not aware of any research that’s examined run-to-sprint gait transition and 2) there would almost certainly be hysteresis on the transition between sprinting maximally and running at fast 10k pace.

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    Daniel Andrews on #80192

    How is it mechanics? It doesn’t account for forces, without forces there are no mechanics and this is no understanding of how such angles are produced. Technique is not mechanics and even then technique means adherence to a technical model which wraps up mechanical, neural, physiological, and psychological inputs and outputs in one. I don’t expect everyone to agree 100% and if we did then we have reached coaching globally optimal technical models which hasn’t occurred. However, I do think some coaches manage to coach athletes towards the never reachable goal of a globally optimal model by improving local optimization in training from year to year and from the beginning of the season to the end of the season and Other coaches don’t. Technique/technical skill will improve as strength improves to a certain degree, but it will also improve as other bio-motor abilities improve as well to certain degrees.

    The reason why I disagree with Mann is watching my little guy grow. He’s needed no instruction to learn running at varying speeds or his maximum speed. I think angle analysis is good to understand how the athlete is learning and its relation to changes in performance.

    This isn’t the thread to discuss the difference between 5k/10k gaits and sprinting. However, I have found as speed increases the changes are proportional and not exponential which may suggest firing patterns at different times in absolute and relative terms, but a change in gait means they are different skills and I don’t see a difference in gaits. Jogging and Sprinting is a different story and 5k/10k running is not casual running at least not at world class levels.

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #80197

    How is it mechanics?

    How is it not mechanics? From wikipedia:

    Mechanics is the branch of physics [b]concerned with the behaviour of physical bodies[/b] when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effect of the bodies on their environment.

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    rm2009 on #80882

    I just gave you a second opportunity to address motivation as a factor in affecting sprint movements. You passed it up AGAIN in order to continue the nonsense, and now you’ll likely complain some more if I counter YOUR attacks, which YOU initiated in this topic. Same thing happened in the thread where I discussed improvements for the sport, and did so in a general sense — as I didn’t draw first blood on anyone in particular in this group. but I fired back when attacks were flung in my direction. Same thing seems to be happening here.

    But youre like woman, so I’m just gonna let it go, because youre irrational. Continue your thread.

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #80913

    Are you a complete moron…I just gave you AN ENTIRE THREAD[/url] to continue your off-topic discussion.

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    CoachVick on #83003

    This has been a great thread in many ways. It’s an important conversation for one. It has also highlighted how often coaches use terms, but don’t mean the same thing. Clear concise language, and sticking to accurate terms that match the science are important. Without them we just talk in circles.

    I do have to agree with being more clear when we talk about “mechanics”. I think Mike’s use reflects the common thought in coaching. Technically though you can’t separate kinetics and kinematics though. They are BOTH part of mechanics.

    I think that point in itself, is what leads to a lot of this difference and then clouds the discussion. While only considering one half, may not make you “half a coach” you are definitely neglecting part of the picture.

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #83020

    Welcome to the board. I totally agree that using a common language is key. I also think your point might hold true for some of the more recent parts of this discussion, the debates involving Bear seem to show he recognizes both but doesn’t see a link between one and the other (at least as he left the debate).

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    johnstrang on #83029

    This might be off topic, but the other day I saw a couple girls from another team doing a-skips and slapping their hands underneath their hamstring as their leg came up. I didn’t understand how that was to promote good posture and/or sprint mechanics so I asked them why they do it and they had no idea except it is an LSU drill so their coach makes them do it. It reminded me of my USATF coaching class where our instructor was talking about how hs football teams in Louisiana did absurd amounts of running because LSU did it, but LSU only did it to make the players sick and get them to stop partying too hard knowing they had that the next morning. I think all too often coaches at many, but mostly hs levels tend to do things like this.

    On a side note, why would they do that sprint mechanic drill/warm up? Is it just to make sure their knees go high… did LSU do that when you were there mike?

    Mike Young
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    Mike Young on #83034

    It was done…in fact it’s in some of my dynamic warmup protocols. The difference between it and regular A skips (if done correctly) is that it is dynamic movement in the upper body and lower body and it forces even greater hip flexion. That said, it isn’t done for sprint mechanics development and it isn’t a major part of any of the coaches programs. It certainly isn’t the reason for their success in any fashion.

    If you go to Canada you’ll see TONS of variations on sprint drills.

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    RussZHC on #83043

    “Crucifix” “A”; more or less a permanent part of the dynamic WU athletes I coach do because as Mike stated the movement of the upper and lower body; it has a minor use for some younger athletes for realization regarding how far “up” you knees can go (those from a “slogging” background) as well as pointing out in “extreme” cases it is OK to be in the air and how that relates to time needed to completely cycle the legs.

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