Acceleration Mechanics

Hey guys I’m confused yet again, so here I am. I was wondering if the pushes during acceleration should be quick or hard. Charlie Francis says “Quick” but Tom Tellez says “Hard” pushes. Which is correct?

you got to understand what that specific coach is stating. charlie saying quick may lead an athlete to cut their stride and toms theory may lead an athlete having too much downtime during “PUSH”. you got to understand totally what the coach is saying totally but i would tend to fucus on the arms more and do exactly what TT is stating in this clip below which is excellent


Every athlete interprets a “cue” differently. The main point is to determine if the athlete is accomplishing what is required of them. For Tellez’s athletes - they did not do the same type and amount of strength work that Charlie’s athletes performed. So telling an athlete to “PUSH” may be more appropriate. While Charlie doesn’t want his athletes to Over-PUSH because they are so strong and may over-commit on their extension phase. This is why Charlie constantly talked about the arms. His athletes’ legs were sufficiently strong and powerful (from lifting, med-ball throws) that they didn’t need to focus on that quality. It was present in all their start work.

As an example, female athletes tend to respond better to cues that include “PUSH” and be “POWERFUL”. Stronger male athletes that I work with tend to respond better to being quicker, lighter and thinking of lifting the knee/foot off the ground quickly.

Why can’t they both be right?

I don’t think it’s a question of someone being right or wrong. It’s a situational and individualizing issue for every coach. The problem arises when someone tells athletes a particular cue just because “Famous Coach A” uses that approach, rather than assessing the situation and context of the cues.

Charlie’s example pushing a wheel is the clearest as far as I’m concerned.

While Charlie would speak in the context of MaxV (quick slaps on the tire equate to short fast ground contact times) the dynamics change when accelerating the tire from a dead stop.

Longer contacts are required to apply the force necessary to overcome the inertia as fast as possible. I’ve used this example with many athletes and it seems to register well.

Good points regarding the trainedness of the athletes and how this will impact their psycho/sensory-motor ability when responding to various cues.

So there is no way to have an example of correct acceleration models because it is always gonna be athlete dependent? I feel like I am pretty strong in the weight room, but when I think to quick I cut the stride short and When I think push I tend to over exaggerate.

Do u have a coach? Or someone who can videotape you? Sometimes its hard to be objective about yourself when your running.

Good points. I have heard from many coaches that you have to tailor the cue and use limited cues and that the cues may need to change throughout the year. Of course Charlie mentioned all of the above.

That’s a great analogy. Never thought about that example.

It’s in KB book:

Let me give you an example that coach Francis uses to describe what I see
happening with a lot of people. Have you ever ridden a scooter? Imagine taking off on a
scooter. As you accelerate you reach ahead with your foot, bend the knee of your plant
leg, dig in, and pull. However, what happens if you try to do this once you get going at a
really good clip? Once you reach a certain speed you just slow yourself down by trying to
grab and “dig in”. Once you’re going at a decent clip on the scooter the only way to go
faster is by applying very short and quick strokes down and back into the pavement.
Sprinting is the same way. The faster you try to go, and the more you try to reach
and push, the worse your mechanics get. (no bull)

I think I personally created many problems by slamming my feet into the ground too hard when upright as opposed to thinking quick strike. It caused lots of turf toe, hamstring irritation, slow running and almost a lame prancing type of running. Back to focusing on the arms seems to work better for me.

In my experience, working with a truly wide variety of athletes, skill levels, age groups, and so on, I’ve found that while universal cues and examples resonate in many, the most effective solutions typically result when the dialogue between coach/trainer and athlete inspires the athlete to formulate a physical response to the idea that has, first and foremost, been made clear in their mind.

Hence the slapping the wheel example or any other analogy or physical example that we might describe or demonstrate to them- this illustrates the idea/objective; however, in order that the athlete may make an efficient neurophysiological product out of the deal requires that they not only understand what to do in theory, but are able to put it into practice (at high speeds no less in the case of sprinting). In this way, I have, as one example, found success with certain athletes (that take longer to assimilate new skills) by first explaining/demonstrating/showing video examples of the objective to an extent that they fully understand what to do in theory; and then, ask them how they are conceptualizing the process of physically realizing the task.

This approach has yielded some very interesting cues devised by the athletes themselves.

Same here! Even when a coach gives me some kind of leg cue, I convert it mentally to an arm cue and it seems to take care of the legs.

I think one question to ask here is Usain’s total contact time versus, say, Tim’s? Are we really better off with short, fast contact times compared to only 41 of those contacts to cover 100 meters?

I don’t think you can ignore the success of the Jamaican programs recently, the 6.31 splits, or the comment from Steve Francis about “long, longer…longer yet.”

My sense is that if you have more explosive power (not entirely related to pure strength–see Mo for intance) you can push longer, and I think this is highly athlete-dependent. And its not just push versus not push; If you are taller you want to get your legs extended and take advantage of the longer lever sooner rather than later. So for me there’s a full extension cue that comes into play ASAP.

Focus on your strength–different athletes at different levels will emphasize different things at different parts of the race model.

Regarding Bolt’s 41 strides, it follows that this, more than anything, is a result of power generated during GCT and his lever system. I’m not certain how the duration of his GCT compares to others over the course of that race; however, the speed that he’s moving at suggests that each GCT must be shorter than his competitors with each advancing stride.

While more power/strength allows one to apply more force over greater amplitudes I believe the time spent applying more force becomes counter-intuitive in the upright position at the expense of taking longer to sprint from point A to point B.

While it’s a chicken: egg scenario, the faster you’re sprinting the less time you have to spend on the ground (unless you make contact further ahead of COM which would slow you down in the upright position); likewise, if you want to increase your speed in the upright position, neuromuscularly speaking, you better be generating more power during ground contact as fast as possible in order to minimize it and maximize the duration until the next one.

Pushing longer equates to throwing the shot farther due to the single effort; however, in the sprints I believe it is to the athletes detriment to do so any more than you have to during early acceleration.

I absolutely agree with your closing statement.

I’m getting ready to start indoor track for college, but I don’t have a coach just yet. I do have a few videos on this site. I may also record an updated video this weekend.

has anyone ever sat on a stationary bike with their eyes shut and got someone to select gears and tried to pick which was the fastest. the world record currently has 41 ground contacts, anyone know what the most ground contacts has ever been for a world record.

With that being said…Would it be a good idea to just focus on long slow pushes that steadily quicken as I accelerated…Longest pushes__________Initial acceleration…Long Pushes______Transition acceleration…Medium pushes____Acceleration while upright…Short quick taps_Max Velocity to finish. It makes since and seems logical.

I wouldn’t presume to give you strict instructions; however, what you’ve suggested certainly follows the intuitive ideas of smooth is fast, gradual transitions, letting it happen and so on.