Sprint Start Mechanics

Posted In: The Classics

      • Mike Young
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        Mike Young on #9760

        I just watched Flo-Jo’s 10.49 race for the first time in a while yesterday and the main thing that struck me was how fast she gets to an upright running position. Ben Johnson had a similar transition to upright running posture. This wasn’t uncommon in that era but these two individuals made especially fast transitions to upright posture. This struck me as a stark contrast to today’s 100m champions who “drive” for 30-40m before they are in a fully upright posture. Obviously, both starts have produced very fast times but there is no one in recent memory who doesn’t at least get to 25m before they are upright. I’d like to hear others thoughts on the pros and cons of each technique and why everyone thinks the start used by Flo-Jo and Ben have gone out of favor.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32744

        not many sprinters have the general strength parameters that Ben or FloJo had.

        Flo hit .91 from 60-100m in her Seoul 10.54w final which should give some type of indication of what she was capable of had she really hit the accelerator! i’ve seen very few women that could execute technically the way Flo-Jo did.

        i think there had to be something about their supplementation which allowed them to sustain their speed for such a long duration.

        Charlie has talked about some of Flo-Jo’s speed endurance and special enduracne wkouts that are staggering.

        i still think that for most normal people you need to have a distribution to your race.

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32745

        I noticed the same thing when watching flo jo’s race especially. as you said in that time era that technique was not uncommon but my question is if numerous athletes were running very fast times (some even faster than today) for example why was this drive phase phenomenom even “invented?” I actaully though the idea of flo jo getting into an upright position was all my imaginiation but im glad to hear that others see this too and it was not just in my head.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32746

        I’d imagine that getting to upright running posture so soon would be disadvantageous under the following two scenarios:

          [1]If the athlete had not yet approached their maximal velocity. In this case, the athlete would be putting themselves into a position where it would be difficult to efficiently apply force necessary for forward acceleration.
          [2]If the athlete COULD hit max velocity that soon but then didn’t have the speed endurance to maintain max velocity for the extended duration and length that such a quick accelereration would bring.

        KT-
        I’ve considered the “supplementation” issue you mentioned, but I’d imagine most national class men have greater strength and power outputs than Flo-Jo had and you don’t see them get upright so soon. If we agree that this is the case, then the argument of extreme strength and power output being the cause for the quick progression of body angles seen in Flo-Jo and Ben would be moot because by that reasoning we would see more men having similar acceleration body angles. Putting this together with what you said about “supplement” enhanced speed endurance, do you think that their quick progression of body angles is less than ideal but is masked by their enhanced speed endurance or do you think that if speed endurance permits it that there is an advantage to being upright so soon.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        jjh999 on #32747

        I know that I’ve sounded like a broken record on this topic, but I think the issue is that with the exception of a few athletes, today’s sprinters are not “truly” driving for 35m. They have rehearsed a torso position that gives the appearance of a John Smith-esque drive phase, but upon examination of the shin angles and lines of force through pushoff, they are really doing similar things to their counterparts in ’88.

        An example: Justin Gatlin. Look at all of his races this year including his rounds before the OG final. He did the “Trevor Graham look at the ants on the ground thing” until the OG final when he looks like he finally just let it happen. If I’m not mistaken, he “comes up” earlier in the OG final than he had all year (Granted, his head is still down too long for my taste…). My point is that these athletes need to let the acceleration phase happen and not pantomime a particular position with the torso. Their predecessors allowed their torso to raise their heads…this generation thinks that the longer that they keep their heads down, the longer that they are “driving”. What you actually see is a decrease in the quality of the acceleration b/c of the abrupt raising of the head near the end of their “drive phase” (pardon me while I wipe the vomit from my mouth…
        :barf: ) which often results in the hips dropping for a stride or two, etc, etc…

        Don’t let the head or the torso position fool you…get your eyes on the shins, pushoff angle and line of force from foot to head.

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32748

        JJ,
        So yare you saying that it appears that many of these athletes are braking at the waist or simply just keeping their heads down?

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        rong on #32749

        JJ

        You hit the nail on the head. The great coaches all say “get your eyes on the track” and look at what is happening where the rubber meets the road.

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32750

        So how are the correct shin angles pushoff angles and line of force from foot to head coached when a athlete seems to be popping up? Since the cue “stay low” will probably cause braking at the waist what should be done?

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        coachformerlyknownas on #32751

        With core strength developing, we tend to emphasize hip extension on push-out and not concern ourselves with “head or chin down” cues. Seems to then happen naturally.

        By the way, with respect to ’80’s acceleration method, does the sprint pattern of Lauryn Williams favor somwhat to Evelyn Ashford (10.76 version)?

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        rong on #32752

        I don’t cue “stay low” at all, infact, I want them to “stand up.” By that I mean I want the straight line from the ankle through the hip through the head before the back foot in the blocks makes its first ground contact. If we are pushing properly, we are “leaned from the ankle” and not at all from the mid section.

        We start in a crouch for the shin angles, not for the body angles. As soon as we are gone from the blocks we need to have proper posture.

        The problem is the 2 most visible models of the last decade MJone and MGreene have the head down stuff going on. Kind of like every kid in the 90s was playing basketball with their toungue out. Had nothing to do with better basketball, but Michael Jordan was doing it.

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32753

        why would you want to worry about head or chin down cues anyway? this would destroy alignment.

        i would agree 100% percent with JJ regarding appearances of driving vs. the reality of driving. if it worke in the 100m you would think that it would work in other areas as well where acceleration is impt (horiz approach jumps and even throws to a degree).

        Or maybe a better point is that if it were such a superior position for force production and application wouldn’t you want to see it the wt room w/squats and cleans too…. just doesn’t make sense.

        to answer mike’s questions… I think Flo-Jo’s speed endurance capabilities allowed her to “get-up” sooner and maintain it longer. but she also had higher top end speed than anyone, too. And the fact that she ran .91-.92 from 50m mean that she probably never hit “top” speed.

        Flo said in 88 that was try to take the best of Ben and the best of Carl and create a new model. If the Bulgarian women had finished in 88 (she was at 6.96 at 60m and 7.90 at 70m) it would have been interesting.

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        jjh999 on #32754

        [i]Originally posted by QUIKAZHELL[/i]
        So how are the correct shin angles pushoff angles and line of force from foot to head coached when a athlete seems to be popping up? Since the cue “stay low” will probably cause braking at the waist what should be done?

        “Feel the feet behind you.”

        “Push the track back behind you.”

        If the athlete is “popping up” as you say, they need to continue to push back. The “popping up” sounds like a rush to go to the frequency and “spin” as I call it.

        Another note, Tellez preached very adamantly about allowing the torso to unfold upon block exit. Why? Balance. If the torso is allowed to unfold, or allow the angle between the torso and the hips to increase, the athlete will be in a slightly better position to apply force rather than be forced to “spin” and save themselves from falling without any momentum building taking place.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32755

        Nice points everyone and I agree with what has been said about the chin / head tucks as well as the need for correct postural allignment. My original point however was not specifically looking at either of these so much as it was examining the direction of the application of forces during early acceleration assuming posture (head, spine, hips, etc.) is correctly alligned. The reason I asked is because from a biomechanical perspective I would think that a progressively decreasing forward body angle (with correct posture) should be present until just prior to the attainment of maxV. The reason I think this is because having the feet behind the athlete’s center of mass is unquestionably the best position to apply accelerating forces….one can’t accelerate forward unless forces are applied in the opposite direction! So if the sprinters in question (Ben, FloJo, and others) are not reaching maxV until 50-65m, then it would seem to me that they are coming out of this advantageous position too soon given the fact that they appear to be almost completely upright by 15m. Having said that, I am of the belief that the angles of the body relative to the track, specifically that of the trunk, should be roughly in line with the direction of force application to the track so that the ground reaction forces can be transmitted through the long axis of the body for efficient propulsion. If an athlete is accomplishing that objective and has low push angles, it is necessary for them to be applying huge impulses to the track so that they have enough flight time to be able to get their feet behind or underneath them in spite of having such low push angles.

        KT-
        Given what you posted above, do you think FloJo, Ben, etc. would have benefited from lower push angles since they were upright by 15m yet not reaching maxV until 50-65m (thereby indicating that they weren’t in the best position for acceleration despite still having a lot of accelerating to do)?

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Carl Valle
        Participant
        Carl Valle on #32756

        Great points all, but let’s also look at fatigue rates of various muscle groups such as quads and hamstrings. If an athlete is able to stay down longer even if it slower they may preserve some CNS pool for the later part of the race IN THEORY. This will get into JJ’s research with lactate and perhaps get into some other angles (no pun intended).

        If you could look at Ben’s race you must look at his head position not as an alignment debate, but on how he is able to handle each jarring strike by absorbing the loads. Calvin Smith has an obvous tilt from side to side but that is a red herring because his head jerks FORWARD with each step. This may be a relaxation issue since the right fibers must relax at the right time to aborb while some fibers must contract to neutralize undwanted torso forces. Ben was getting therapy three times a day and this will never happen again because athletes aren’t into that stuff. The volumes charlie was able to do with his athletes were very high since they all had waldemar at their disposal.

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32757

        [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
        Great points all, but let’s also look at fatigue rates of various muscle groups such as quads and hamstrings. If an athlete is able to stay down longer even if it slower they may preserve some CNS pool for the later part of the race IN THEORY.

        Are you trying to say that having the head down may be a CNS sparing technique? HOW?

        [i] Ben was getting therapy three times a day and this will never happen again because athletes aren’t into that stuff. The volumes charlie was able to do with his athletes were very high since they all had waldemar at their disposal.

        it wasn’t **just** the therapy that allowed him to handle those training loads. If running is your JOB why wouldn’t you get therapy 3x/day if that was what it took to get the job done?

        [i]Originally posted by Mike[/i]
        KT-
        Given what you posted above, do you think FloJo, Ben, etc. would have benefited from lower push angles since they were upright by 15m yet not reaching maxV until 50-65m (thereby indicating that they weren’t in the best position for acceleration despite still having a lot of accelerating to do)?

        i don’t think so…. i think their unique combination of power levels, speed endurance, and supplementation allowed them to have that steep of an acceleration curve that early in the race.

        i think, however, that the transition (15-40m) is an area where there are still gains to be made. when you watch Ato and Maurice in their prime when thety were both near WR territory they were doing thing diff than anyone else in transition… they pushed very low for several steps and then were buying time on the track (to apply *more* force)by having their foot slightly out in front from 10-30m or so. I don’t know if anyone else could handle that type of stress and it may part of the reason why they ended up so beat up.

        people do tend to forget however that Ato was in some big sprint wars from 95-2000. Donovan, Linford, Frankie, Bruny, Maurice and others like Leroy, Oba, Drummond.. it was hellish.

      • Carl Valle
        Participant
        Carl Valle on #32758

        Fiber composition on various muscle groups may be rate limiting….I think the hamstring group is preserved during long (read artificial) accelerations….flying 20s are very taxing for elites but repeat 60s from blocks don’t seem to drain guys.

        What about long term training effects of more SE? Would that prepare the landing patterns (optimal muscle preparation) better then a more plyo / weight program?

        As for drugs in the past I would say that they are better now…ben wasn’t doing EPO! Charlie gave his honest account for their drug protocols and he is a good man. Everyone mentions drugs with Ben like he is the only one! Therapy is work (driving and making appointments) since very few programs use them extensively. I don’t see it being done. Andy at HSI sucked but I do respect John Smiths efforts.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32759

        [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
        Fiber composition on various muscle groups may be rate limiting….I think the hamstring group is preserved during long (read artificial) accelerations.

        I’ve actually had similar thoughts but I am still debating whether this advantage outweighs the disadvantage of being in a poor / artificially created position for acceleration.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Carl Valle
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        Carl Valle on #32760

        and what did you find Mike…a sweet spot ?

      • Mike Young
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        Mike Young on #32761

        [i]Originally posted by Phoenix[/i]
        and what did you find Mike…a sweet spot ?

        I’m really not sure what the answer is here. It’d be nice to be able to experiment with someone else’s athletes though :spin:.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        CoachKW on #32762

        Excellent thread men. Keep dropping the knowledge bombs and I’ll keep collecting the pearls of wisdom on my hard “drive”

        Thanks fellas!!

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        Todd Lane on #32763

        I’m trying to digest all I’ve just read, so bare with me if this strays or goes completely off line…

        While not mechanical, are Ben’s and Flo-Jo’s batteries just bigger than anyone else’s? A deeper ATP pool gained through incredible strength levels? Maybe this alludes to Phoenix CNS protective mechanism or KT’s speed endurance qualities.

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32764

        Can anyone please post video of textbook accel. technique (angles) I am playing around with dartfish and have nothing “perfect” to compare my footage to.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32765

        [i]Originally posted by todd[/i]While not mechanical, are Ben’s and Flo-Jo’s batteries just bigger than anyone else’s?

        I don’t think so….maybe just better strength levels which allow them to push themselves upright quicker and move through acceleration faster.

        A deeper ATP pool gained through incredible strength levels?

        I don’t think it works like that (increased strength ~ increased ATP).

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32766

        [i]Originally posted by QUIKAZHELL[/i]
        Can anyone please post video of textbook accel. technique (angles) I am playing around with dartfish and have nothing “perfect” to compare my footage to.

        I’m away from my office but will post something when I get back in early January. If I forget just remind me.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32767

        Great will do.

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        frit17 on #32768

        Mike and others opinion,

        So going along with this thread, what would the goal be for a football player getting timed in the 40yd dash. Does he want to get off the line and get upright as fast as possible, or really try to accelerate as long as he can?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32769

        [i]Originally posted by frit17[/i]
        Mike and others opinion,

        So going along with this thread, what would the goal be for a football player getting timed in the 40yd dash. Does he want to get off the line and get upright as fast as possible, or really try to accelerate as long as he can?

        They should move through body angles progressively, having each step push their body in to a little more upright position. They should definitely not try to “stay down” or do the HSI drive phase.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        frit17 on #32770

        So let it happen, rather than lean to one way or the other?

      • Mike Young
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        Mike Young on #32771

        [i]Originally posted by frit17[/i]
        So let it happen, rather than lean to one way or the other?

        Yes. In fact, I tend to think this is the way it should happen no matter what the race…..make sure force application is directed through the long axis of the body and let each step push the body to a more upright position.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        canada-guy on #32772

        would this mimic what ur saying above mike, if u were running 60 meter races and u ran it the same as the 100?
        for example ur drive phase would be for 3/10 of the race supposedly in the 100, which would be 30 meters, so for 60 meters 3/10 would be 18 meters. so for the first 18 meters u accelerate and let each stride take u more upright, when at 19 meters ur upright.

        could this approach be taken or would it be junk?

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        canada-guy on #32773

        another thing i seen before was that Flo-Jo had a 150 kg lunge. would having 150 kg lunge strength in each leg mean that she could rapidly accelerate her thighs, (from her mach A position in her sprint cycle to the point in her stride where her thigh begins to come back up to the mach A position), faster than anyother lady?

        a 150 kg lunge sounds pretty lethal for a lady. Or is that a norm among elite women sprinters?

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        Derrick Brito on #32774

        a 150 kg is huge, i dont think i believe that. also, your acceleration should always be the same length. generally you want o hit top speed real close to the end of the 60.

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32775

        i think that 60m should be run the same way the first 60m of a 100m dash would be run.

        why try to learn two diff accel and rhythmic patterns?

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        canada-guy on #32776

        Flo-Jo’s 150 kg lunge:

        https://www.oztrack.com/faccionispeed.htm

        if u go to this link, down the page, the 2nd of the downloadable presentations, is the one that says Flo-Jo lunged that much.

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        senri on #32777

        when i come out of the blocks i use big strides.But i naturally do this and feels comfortable. My coach tries to get me to drive around thirty similar to the HSI drive phase you all talk about. I remember going fsater or feeling more comfortable pushing off with power with each stride, not goin out strong with choppy steps to get the legs going..Am i wrong?

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        canada-guy on #32778

        also, in the same download presentation that says Flo-Jo lunged that much, further down for the starting technique, it says:

        ” Starting Technique

        *Very active arm action
        *First 5-8 strides
        *Drive knees to chest
        *Head stays down for as long as possible
        *Piston action with legs
        *(Pfaff)
        *Cycle action with legs
        *(Smith) ”

        whats the difference in the starts between Pfaff’s piston action and Smith’s cycle action? or are they really the same starting techniques, but just explained by each coach different?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32779

        A piston action has low heel recovery and a more linear movement of the heel while a cyclic action is characterized by a high heel recovery and a more rotational movement of the heel.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        fasttwitch on #32780

        Is there a comparitive study between the two?

        My coach is instructing me to change from a cyclic motion to Pfaff’s linear recovery motion.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32781

        [i]Originally posted by fasttwitch[/i]
        Is there a comparitive study between the two?

        Not that I’m aware of. However I can’t see any benefit to a cyclic motion early on in acceleration. Can anyone else?

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        fasttwitch on #32782

        I didn’t see any advantage to the cyclic motion, but I wanted an idea of how badly it had been hindering me. It’s nice to know I’m heading in the right direction.

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        maris on #32783

        Hmmmm, an idea for my university dissertation possibly, comparison of the piston versus cyclic motion. not sure how i’d conduct the study. maybe i could just do a study of the HSI ‘drive’ phase, v the older technique that Lewis etc adopted.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32784

        Let me know what you decide to do as I did some research on start mechanics for my Masters degree.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32785

        DaGov asked this in another thread and I thought it would be more appropriate here:

        Mike,

        I’m not sure if this is related to this issue or not (if not, please suggest that I start another topic). . . .

        How do you instruct high school athletes to get better acceleration at the start (i.e. – not popping up at the start)? I usually cue them to lean forward while accelerating, but I’m not sure if that is something that I am correct in telling them. I have an athlete that is now my best sprinter out of the blocks (best accel. technique). She got as good as she is (according to her) by telling herself to actually bend down at the waist from the gun. I know what she did was not the right way to go about it, but it worked like a charm for her. Thoughts?

        I usually stay clear of lean-forward cues as this often results in a forward lean at the waist, unnecessarily “staying down” and / or tucking the chin. I will usually instruct athletes to “keep their feet behind them from the beginning,” “push themselves more upright with each step,” “get long complete pushes,” and “push through the long axis of their body.”

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Jay Turner on #32786

        [i]Originally posted by mike[/i]
        DaGov asked this in another thread and I thought it would be more appropriate here:
        [quote]Mike,

        I’m not sure if this is related to this issue or not (if not, please suggest that I start another topic). . . .

        How do you instruct high school athletes to get better acceleration at the start (i.e. – not popping up at the start)? I usually cue them to lean forward while accelerating, but I’m not sure if that is something that I am correct in telling them. I have an athlete that is now my best sprinter out of the blocks (best accel. technique). She got as good as she is (according to her) by telling herself to actually bend down at the waist from the gun. I know what she did was not the right way to go about it, but it worked like a charm for her. Thoughts?

        I usually stay clear of lean-forward cues as this often results in a forward lean at the waist, unnecessarily “staying down” and / or tucking the chin. I will usually instruct athletes to “keep their feet behind them from the beginning,” “push themselves more upright with each step,” “get long complete pushes,” and “push through the long axis of their body.” [/quote]To me this makes perfect sense, but remember, I am dealing with high school girls that are still relatively new to the sport. They may not understand what this means exactly. How do I simplify things for them?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32787

        Those are the cues I use with almost all of our athletes, some of which sometimes seem to be below high school intelligence :splat: . If they don’t understand the cue just take some time to explain it. Remember, coaching done well is physical EDUCATION in it’s highest form.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        QUIKAZHELL on #32788

        Are you sure Smith ——-cyclic?
        Where have You heard this?

      • Mike Young
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        Mike Young on #32789

        [i]Originally posted by QUIKAZHELL[/i]
        Are you sure Smith ——-cyclic?
        Where have You heard this?

        I wasn’t the one who mentioned it, and I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m pretty certain I saw it once in a presentation by Facioni.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32790

        has anyone else been suprised by some of the starts and starting positions some of the runners are in  at the World Champs?

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        Daniel Andrews on #32791

        I can hardly tell, everytime I watch them set they are not in a close up on the webcast.  Not to mention the quick gun of the starter, I can't remember this many starts being called back because he fired the gun without everyone being set.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32792

        has anyone else been suprised by some of the starts and starting positions some of the runners are in at the World Champs?

        I noticed lots of low hips…is this what you're referring to?

        ….I can't remember this many starts being called back because he fired the gun without everyone being set.

        I think this is mainly because you're accustomed to seeing the 1 hour highlight film that has all of that stuff edited out.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32793

        yeah… a lot of low hips and hands that are way too wide.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32794

        It might help with maintaing the "drive phase." 😉 In all seriousness though, that's the only good reason I can think someone would want to try such a starting position: it beneficially changes race distribution. What are your thoughts?

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Kebba Tolbert on #32795

        you're actually right in the sense of you'll have to "drive" longer because they stumble around for the first 2-4 steps and then have to drive really hard to develop any kind of momentum… Gatlin really blew the start today… very side to side.. makes me think he must be pretty dinged up from 8 rounds in Helsinki….

        interesting race by Campbell… really nice stuff from 20-85m

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        flash-x on #32796

        Since this is a sprint start mechanics thread, i  got a question.  On the sound of the gun what should the first step out of the blocks be?  Where im from people debate about that i dont know what to believe.
        I was told to drive the knee upwards, then i was told the first step shouldnt be a high knee action but a low dragged type drive out of the blocks where your first step puts you in position to get power in the drive.  (foot behind you position).  I want to know your opinions on this and your techniques for first step out of the blocks.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32797

        Since this is a sprint start mechanics thread, i got a question. On the sound of the gun what should the first step out of the blocks be? Where im from people debate about that i dont know what to believe.
        I was told to drive the knee upwards, then i was told the first step shouldnt be a high knee action but a low dragged type drive out of the blocks where your first step puts you in position to get power in the drive. (foot behind you position). I want to know your opinions on this and your techniques for first step out of the blocks.

        I think that the foot should be carried low to the ground on the first couple steps. As the athlete accelerates the foot will begin to carry higher during the swing phase until it eventually is stepping over the opposite leg knee.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        purebreeze on #32798

        Hey Guys,
        Im having a problem with my starts. One is that they are real inconsistent…I did electronic timed 10 meters without blocks with a track stance, and I went 1.65,1.81,and 1.85. I cant seem to get my first 5 steps correct.The first three steps are wide,I tend to be off balance and I feel like Im not getting any drive. What suggestions do you guys have.

                      Thanx

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        utfootball4 on #32799

        Hey Guys,
        Im having a problem with my starts. One is that they are real inconsistent…I did electronic timed 10 meters without blocks with a track stance, and I went 1.65,1.81,and 1.85. I cant seem to get my first 5 steps correct.The first three steps are wide,I tend to be off balance and I feel like Im not getting any drive. What suggestions do you guys have.

                       Thanx

        i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

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        pzale8018 on #32800

        You're right ut, I do disagree. 

        I'm not saying that solid work in the weight room won't be a great asset to your sprint start, but nothing can replace the work on the track.  Working out in the weight room will not teach you proper body position or coordination needed for a good block start.  Nothing can replace track work and specific strength developed from effective block work.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32801

        i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

        I wholeheartedly agree…this is why throwers and weightlifters are often faster than sprinters for the first 10-15m. This is one of the reasons I work squats with my short sprinters so hard. Having said that, winning the race to 10m/yd doesn't necessarily correlate with winning the race to 40m/yd (and certainly not to 100m). If an athlete has poor mechanics, brute strength in the first couple strides can more than make up for it but after that point I don't think that brute strength will help you get out of the bad positions you might have put yourself in to.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32802

        RE: Weight room work for the first 10m….I tend to agree with UT. If I was in the absurd scenario of having to train someone to run 10m as fast as possible and had to choose between the weight room or track work I think I'd choose the weight room. The further out that distance goes the more things begin to switch. I don't think weight room work will fix mechanics but I think sheer brute force can get you through the first 10m better than mechanics. This is why throwers and Olympic weightlifters can often beat great sprinters over very short distances despite not doing any speed work on the track.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32803

        Wanted to add that brute force without mechanics quickly catches up with an athlete (by about 15-25m) but if we were JUST taking the first 10m out of the context of the rest of the race I think brute force is more important. If we place that first 10m in the context of a 60m or 100m then mechanics becomes MUCH more important.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        pzale8018 on #32804

        Wanted to add that brute force without mechanics quickly catches up with an athlete (by about 15-25m) but if we were JUST taking the first 10m out of the context of the rest of the race I think brute force is more important. If we place that first 10m in the context of a 60m or 100m then mechanics becomes MUCH more important.

        That is the line of thinking I was taking in responce to ut's post.  I know that ut comes from a football background and I from track, so its hard for me to think of running only 10m without thinking about the implications to the rest of the race.

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        winnesota on #32805

        [quote author="utfootball4" date="1154579109"]i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

        I wholeheartedly agree…this is why throwers and weightlifters are often faster than sprinters for the first 10-15m. This is one of the reasons I work squats with my short sprinters so hard. Having said that, winning the race to 10m/yd doesn't necessarily correlate with winning the race to 40m/yd (and certainly not to 100m). If an athlete has poor mechanics, brute strength in the first couple strides can more than make up for it but after that point I don't think that brute strength will help you get out of the bad positions you might have put yourself in to.
        [/quote]

        In response to that I am stronger and faster than my teammates, but they can get out in the first 10m meters faster than me.  I am a bigger guy and they are lighter/shorter.  What would you say to that?

        Also, during my start out of the blocks, I tend to come out like a speed skater having my legs go slightly out sideways instead of straight forward.  My angles seem to be fine in the blocks.  What is the best way to correct my form??

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        thenextbestthing on #32806

        [quote author="utfootball4" date="1154579109"]i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

        I wholeheartedly agree…this is why throwers and weightlifters are often faster than sprinters for the first 10-15m. This is one of the reasons I work squats with my short sprinters so hard. Having said that, winning the race to 10m/yd doesn't necessarily correlate with winning the race to 40m/yd (and certainly not to 100m). If an athlete has poor mechanics, brute strength in the first couple strides can more than make up for it but after that point I don't think that brute strength will help you get out of the bad positions you might have put yourself in to.
        [/quote]

        i just really started weight training this school yr. and im not a reall big guy, i run the 100/200. in the fall my first 20m was the great. i got out faster than everyone on my team, we also squatted heavy 3 days/wk. then starting in nov we stopped squatting all together and just did OL's. ever since then my start and first 20m has been noticably slower. do u think the absence of squats is the reason for my poor starts?

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        utfootball4 on #32807

        [quote author="mike" date="1154635441"]
        [quote author="utfootball4" date="1154579109"]i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

        I wholeheartedly agree…this is why throwers and weightlifters are often faster than sprinters for the first 10-15m. This is one of the reasons I work squats with my short sprinters so hard. Having said that, winning the race to 10m/yd doesn't necessarily correlate with winning the race to 40m/yd (and certainly not to 100m). If an athlete has poor mechanics, brute strength in the first couple strides can more than make up for it but after that point I don't think that brute strength will help you get out of the bad positions you might have put yourself in to.
        [/quote]

        i just really started weight training this school yr. and im not a reall big guy, i run the 100/200. in the fall my first 20m was the great. i got out faster than everyone on my team, we also squatted heavy 3 days/wk. then starting in nov we stopped squatting all together and just did OL's. ever since then my start and first 20m has been noticably slower. do u think the absence of squats is the reason for my poor starts?
        [/quote]

        i know everyone is different but with myself if my squats and cleans are not strong then my first 30m isnt strong. where you focusing more on your accel during the fall?

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        thenextbestthing on #32808

        [quote author="blacklightning" date="1174193892"]
        [quote author="mike" date="1154635441"]
        [quote author="utfootball4" date="1154579109"]i know some may disagree but the first 10m can be taken care in the weight room, if you are strong as hell ur chances of having a good start is much better.

        I wholeheartedly agree…this is why throwers and weightlifters are often faster than sprinters for the first 10-15m. This is one of the reasons I work squats with my short sprinters so hard. Having said that, winning the race to 10m/yd doesn't necessarily correlate with winning the race to 40m/yd (and certainly not to 100m). If an athlete has poor mechanics, brute strength in the first couple strides can more than make up for it but after that point I don't think that brute strength will help you get out of the bad positions you might have put yourself in to.
        [/quote]

        i just really started weight training this school yr. and im not a reall big guy, i run the 100/200. in the fall my first 20m was the great. i got out faster than everyone on my team, we also squatted heavy 3 days/wk. then starting in nov we stopped squatting all together and just did OL's. ever since then my start and first 20m has been noticably slower. do u think the absence of squats is the reason for my poor starts?
        [/quote]

        i know everyone is different but with myself if my squats and cleans are not strong then my first 30m isnt strong. where you focusing more on your accel during the fall?
        [/quote]

        we've always been been doing sprint starts since about nov. we did not change anything as far as that

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #32809

        Squats (and strength in general) correlate very strongly with performance over 10-15m. If you dropped squats from the program and most everything else stayed the same I'd guess that your dropoff was due to the absence of squats or a similar replacement stimulus.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #71195

        I want to fire this topic up again.

        Take a look at this video, around the 1 minute marker you will get a front on view of Asafa vs Bolt.

        Aside from looking at Bolts horrible start mechanics (look at the rear leg cycle!) I want to look at Powell’s start.

        Mike- I know that you are a huge proponent of having the heels touching the pad to create a stiffer pillar on the start, but why do you think Powell has his higher up on the pedal? Does this create a more beneficial angle for the first step making it easier to sweep the ground with the feet as opposed to having a higher return on the step through (ala Bolt)? Would this cancel out the negatives of having possible power loss from the heel being off the pad?

        Granted, they are using taller pedals than most collegiates ever will, so I’m not sure how much power is lost on those blocks compared to typical ones.

        Just something that has piqued my interest.

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        wisconman on #71196

        Wow, Bolt’s start looked awful compared to Powell’s. I think you might have something with that thought Scoots. Also, I’ve never noticed this on youtube but there is a little icon underneath views that allows you to watch it in “high quality.” Makes it quite a bit clearer to see. My God they are so fast.

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #71197

        Yeah the new high quality ability makes it SO much easier to watch.

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        lumberjack on #71201

        Also, during my start out of the blocks, I tend to come out like a speed skater having my legs go slightly out sideways instead of straight forward.  My angles seem to be fine in the blocks.  What is the best way to correct my form??

        If you are stepping out wide in your acceleration you are most likely pushing out too low. You step out because you are trying to buy flight time to get your legs in the position to push again. When you set up in the blocks make sure you lift your hips high enough so that your front shin is at approximately a 45 degree angle. The back block should be set so that your back shin is also close to that angle. When you push out, make sure you don’t drop your shin. If you do drop your shin, it will feel more powerful since you are pre-loading your quad, but all the benefit is killed by the poor angle and poor reaction time. Don’t be afraid to get a little air time, it will allow you to fully extend your knee and hip in order to get a better push, build more momentum and be in a better body position when you are at maximum velocity.

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        aivala on #71202

        Am I crazy or in this video it even looks as if bolt was pulling instead of pushing off the blocks.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd99rOWqr0M

        About Asafa, using a higher foot placement for the rear foot allows an easier force application (at least for tall athletes).

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #71205

        Am I crazy or in this video it even looks as if bolt was pulling instead of pushing off the blocks.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd99rOWqr0M

        About Asafa, using a higher foot placement for the rear foot allows an easier force application (at least for tall athletes).

        Bolt cycles through when he starts and it just looks like he is losing so much power compared to Asafa.

        In regards to the higher foot placement = more power, I’m not sure that is the case unless you have high enough blocks that your heels are still in contact. To me it looks more like it is a way for him to ensure proper angles for the rest of his accel at the cost of more power on the pushoff with his rear leg.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71213

        Mike- I know that you are a huge proponent of having the heels touching the pad to create a stiffer pillar on the start, but why do you think Powell has his higher up on the pedal?

        Don’t know and to be honest I prefer to have the entire midfoot in contact with the pedal with the toes on the ground. I’m not sure why Powell is set up like that. His right foot is about as high as I’ve ever seen. I’d imagine it would allow you to produce a much lower departure angle that only someone like Powell could handle. On the other hand, you’d be surprise how many people, even at the highest levels of the sport, think that the block angle has to be super steep, the toes can’t touch the track, and / or the feet should be high on the pedals.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #71214

        My coach has us set our blocks up the way you describe for the back foot. Do you do the same with the front foot as well? When I am in the blocks with such a setting it feels awkward.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71217

        My coach has us set our blocks up the way you describe for the back foot.

        How I described I like it or how I described Powell?

        Do you do the same with the front foot as well? When I am in the blocks with such a setting it feels awkward.

        I like the toes of both feet in contact with the ground.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #71228

        How I described I like it or how I described Powell?

        How you like it, with the toes on the ground.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71229

        [quote author="Mike Young" date="1217480774"]How I described I like it or how I described Powell?

        How you like it, with the toes on the ground.[/quote]Yeah. I’ve found that it provides more stability and theoretically, it should also put the plantarflexors on greater stretch which should aid (very slightly) force production.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        getit on #71173

        Mike- I know that you are a huge proponent of having the heels touching the pad to create a stiffer pillar on the start

        Tom Tellez talks about how you might get less of the stretch reflex of the leg when you set your blocks to have your heels touching the pad. I wanted to see what you guys think about this and what angles the blocks should be set at. You can hear the interview at https://www.athleticscoaching.ca/default.aspx?pid=11&spid=82&sspid=103
        He starts discussing it around 29 minutes.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71248

        Tom Tellez talks about how you might get less of the stretch reflex of the leg when you set your blocks to have your heels touching the pad. I wanted to see what you guys think about this and what angles the blocks should be set at. You can hear the interview at [url=https://www.athleticscoaching.ca/default.aspx?pid=11&spid=82&sspid=103]https://www.athleticscoaching.ca/default.aspx?pid=11&spid=82&sspid=103[/url]
        He starts discussing it around 29 minutes.

        He actually discussed this point quite a bit in the recent ELITETRACK super clinic at the Olympic Trials in Eugene. He was questioned about it though because even when the midfoot is on the pad, there’s still a quite obvious stretch reflex of the gastroc complex when viewed sagitally with even a standard camcorder recording (i.e. high frame rates aren’t necessary). With this in mind he didn’t seem to be as definitive as it originally seemed.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #71996

        In Beijing there were a ton of athletes short and tall VERY high on the blocks…I saw 2 athletes with their feet 4-6″ above the ground. Obviously this isn’t something that one could do on ‘standard’ starting blocks since it requires an extra high pedal but this seems to be something that is either being coached or athletes are doing ‘XYZ does it so that must be why XYZ runs fast’ reasoning. I’m personally not aware of any American coaches that are instructing the athlete to be several inches high on the blocks but it’ll be an interesting trend to follow. Is this the new ‘head down = drive phase’ phenomenon?

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        Fando on #81857

        Is there a specific reason to put the heal/midd foot on the rear block?

        Is it to have a better tension on the rear ankle and so produce more power?( this is what i think)

        Any thoughts of the lenght of the first strides? i think that the first one should be long and powerful, but what about the others?

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        JeremyRichmond on #81896

        Is there a specific reason to put the heal/midd foot on the rear block?

        Is it to have a better tension on the rear ankle and so produce more power?( this is what i think)

        Any thoughts of the lenght of the first strides? i think that the first one should be long and powerful, but what about the others?

        The second step is usually 3-4 cms longer than the first step. Sprinters with an average 100-m time of 10.73s had a first step of 100.85cm and a second step of 103.77cm (Coh et al. 1998). Matic Osovnikar had his worst 20-m time (0.12s slower than average) when his first step was 106cm compared to 103cm normally (Coh et al. 2006)although one could easily contend that many things can go wrong over 20-m. The study is posted on this site.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #81999

        I could be remembering incorrectly but I believe Dr. Mann’s recent research on American sprinters indicated that the 2nd step was actually shorter than the first (in <10.10 sprinters).

        I personally like to see the mid-foot on the block in the set position because when force is applied it's going to touch back anyhow so I'd like to eliminate any delay.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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