I am sure we have heard some of the myths that I am about to discuss, at some point in time, and may have even been guilty of believing these ourselves. In this post I decided that I would list, discuss and debunk some myths we hear a lot that are related to sprint performance.
The problem with the cue “stride out” is that it leads to athletes striking the ground, with the foot, ahead of the body. Striking ahead of the body creates breaking forces which slow us down, driving force in the opposite direction in which we want to direct it, working against what we are attempting to achieve during high speed sprinting. It is the ability to produce vertical force, that is the limiting factor in sprinting performance. We need to increase stride length by getting athletes to “hammer” down and produce as much vertical force down into the track as if to appear to be “bouncing“.
2-Increased Stride Frequency is Key
See number 1. Vertical force production is the limiting factor in upright sprint performance. In addition, horizontal force production is the limiting factor to acceleration performance. Therefore, manipulating turnover speed may just lead to ineffective firing pattern adaptations that do not aid in greater force at ground contact. It also tends to produce to what I refer to as “over spinning“, where the legs are turning “quickly” but the athlete is going nowhere fast. Which presents itself due to the poor projection of their bodies and poor stride length. The athlete just ends up being gassed before reaching the end of a race.
This is simply not true. We don’t want athletes attempting to “kick their butts” with their heels. This idea stems from what many perceive to see when they are watching elite athletes sprint. It looks as if they are actively flexing the knee joint and flicking the heel to the butt. However, the Knee joint flexion that occurs seems to be a result of active hip flexion during high speed sprinting and not vice-versa. We would be better of focusing on active hip flexion and then hammering down into the track/ground.
4-Complete triple extension
The thought process behind this myth is that the more we drive extension through the ankle, knee and hip joints, the better the acceleration that will occur, because of producing and projecting additional horizontal propulsive forces. However, this is not the case, current research suggests that complete triple extension is not exhibited by the fastest sprinters in the world. All emphasis on trying achieve additional horizontal force may lead to athletes over extending and spending more time in contact with the ground, producing to slower times.
5-90 degree Elbow Angle
I have just never seen this displayed by elite sprinters and I cant understand the rationale in doing so. It simply doesn’t happen, and why would it? Seriously, what would the benefit be of doing so? From what i see all it tends to do is create tension in the athletes upper body and it creates a robotic looking action that isn’t free flowing and smooth.