Different leg movement

I coach a 14 year old girl, who has run 12.82 s in the 100.
Her sprinting form is still a bit rough - but improving.

I have noticed, that she has a different movement pattern for each leg:

Right leg:
Before starting the planting the knee is almost fully extended at the end of the forward swing.

Left leg:
At the end of the forward swing, her left knee is not fully extended. It stays flexed to a higher degree than the right knee during the planting of the right leg.

She has comparable flexibility of the hamstrings, but apparently has a strength imbalance, as she tends to twist the hip when squatting - this also happens to a lesser extent during other hip drills.

What do you think? Is this a problem? If so, what should be done in order to correct the error?

I have tried to find two pictures, which illustrates the difference - I know that it is hard to see, but it is quite obvious when viewed in slow motion.

Animation (267 kb)


Hi Jakob,

Welcome to the site. Her leg action is not that bad. Plus as you stated she is young and has time to improve. The only thing that I would work on (technique wise) is her arm action. And que her to run with “taller hips”. Check her quad flexibility make sure it is even. Her knee drive can be slightly better. Quad flexiblity might help. Make sure that the hip twisting is not the result of another injury she is compensating for. How is her “core” stregnth?

Anyone else?

Regarding core strength:
Hanging in a bar she can raise her feet to her hands 3x6 reps, and her back musculature is also quite strong.

However I suspect that the lack of knee drive and running a bit low is a result of insufficient strength in the hip and knee extensors.


Its possible. Just make sure not to overwork the hip flexors in order to get more knee drive. I had the same issue with a female similar to your young sprinter. I made the knee drive problem worse by doing additional hipflexor work.

Good luck!

Arm action can definately be improved. I know that when I improved arm action, everything else came along a little better.

Actually I was referring to a lack of hip extensor strength. Wouldn’t a weak hip extension make a proper knee drive difficult on the opposite leg?

Hanging leg raises is hip flexor strength. Doesn’t really tell you much about overall core strength.

Her arm action looks more like a swimmer’s stroke. Watch the hand movement. She’s “leaking” power there.


Yes. I knew you meant hips ext. but I saw you had her doing squats which would take care of that problem. I mentioned the hipflexor thing as a caution. Many coaches will try to improve knee drive via hip flexor work. Which might make the problem worse.

What does the training protocol look liie now?

At her age I would focus on core work some wieghts and a short to long type of program.

What point in the movement and in what direction does she twist during a squat? Does her hip twist? Do either of her feet twist out? What happens on each side when she lunges?

Also, sprinting requires a lot of rotational strength and stability in the core so the leg ups only gives you an idea about Sagittal Plane. So if she’s hopping down the track that would help. :slight_smile:

4 units/week.

Generally focusing on developing max speed.

A typical week would be:

Technical development long jump (5,52 m PB)
General athletic training

Max speed
General athletic training

General athletic training

Max speed
General athletic training

General athletics training include hurdles coordination, medicine ball drills, jumping cordination drills, general and specific skip drills and strength work.
Strength work, depending on the season, consists of circuit training, gymnastics and introductory barbell training (besides the jumping drills and the medicine ball drills).

I started working with tempo according to the German training system described in the “Rahmentrainingsplan”, but have switched to the methods described by Charlie Francis.
Max speed sessions often include a technical aspect and never have a higher volume than 250 m/session.

She twists counter-clockwise. Her feet do not move. We rarely do lunges, but they seem to be okay. However, when we do hamstring drills, she has a tendency to twist he same way.

I appreciate your feedback - it is very useful!


I’m guessing she takes off on her right leg in the long jump? I’m thinking of a glute strength descrepency. Strong Right weaker Left.


Can I ask, why two maximum speed sessions per week? And with concerns about her technique at the same time?

Train hip extensors (e.g., reverse leg press) with emphasis on weaker side, it can only help her! Apart from med ball work, that is.

I would still wait for the rest without analysing things to her too much.

All the best!

Well, maximum speed sessions does not necessarily include sprinting at maximum speed. Sometimes it would be sprinting at perhaps 90% over distances from 30 to 60 meters. The idea is to give room for technical work. Bad idea?

I would prefer to “put distance on speed, rather than speed on distance” as Charlie says and maintaining good technique first before moving upwards.

This is just a suggestion, as you know much better than us the athlete her self and the actual training phase you are in and training goals you are aiming at.

Good luck!


Clip/Animation from training. We have been working on running high and trying to make the arms more effective.

As you can see, conditions are not that favorable. We do the sprinting work on a compact sand surface. It’s hard when dry, soft when wet :o

Animation from a race six months ago.


Hard to tell from that short of a clip. She did stop the “swimming” stroke with her hands. Her arm action still looks lazy compared to her leg action.