Pull don't push sprinting introduction



he’s interesting. I occasionally watch his videos. Not sure what to make of everything. He had one about flat footed landings on the drive phase with purposeful planned anterior tilt that was interesting. Not really sure about it though. I tend to not be dismissive when someone is different, but that’s more out of interest than subscribing to it.


on the close vies of both of these races, both gatlin and bracy seem to be pulling out of the blocks. Maybe its just me though.


Well, we know what the physics is of sprinting, and Tellez and Mann both have written a lot on how it is a pushing action. However, Pfaff, of the Tellez school of course, I have heard him say that there may be athletes you may have to cue to ‘pull the ground’. He goes on to say, what’s actually happening (push) may have to be different from the cue (pull), in order to get the athlete into the right positions. In some cases, like myself, I think the ‘pulling’ cue can be effective, and thinking about pulling the leg back can help you to not land so far in front of the COG. It might also help aid in getting an athlete to generate more negative footspeed. But in some cases, this cue could hurt a different athlete even though they might have the same issue, and so a different cue will be required.

I think what is described as pulling in the video is not a paw back motion in front of the body but an active and fast recovery of the foot after ground contact, i.e. pulling the foot to the front past the knee as soon as possible. I think this is similar to what Charlie described as stepping over the knee of the support leg.

I definitely have an athlete who could’ve used this cue this season - kid loved to bounce himself into the air in the first few steps of every run he did.
That said, this video is cuing the interaction between foot and ground and then the recovery, which strikes me as the other half of what cuing push involves which tend to be much more of the “step over - drive down”, so it really doesn’t strike me as mutually exclusive. I could see using it for a younger runner who casts, or my overly bouncy gent - the cues don’t have to describe perfect technique, they just have to trick the athlete into getting there.
PS Joe Morris is another guy who is a puller - watching him warm up at indoor nationals was eye opening https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mepH1YyAPvQ

i think sprinting once past the drive is a rebound from the track. It’s always hard to know what to cue as if motions are ballistic, you could affect them by cognitive activation

The best athletes I’ve coached do things pretty well to begin with, so theres less to cue. I also think people tend to move more efficiently when they go faster, out of necessity for movements. I had a kid around 16 yr ago who wont a juco national title , 200m, and he ran so so when he was going slow. But once he really went fast , everything aligned and found its angle. Movements were sharp. I didn’t want to mess with that too much, so I didn’t.

Coaching form is an art that uses science. There are movements that dont’t happen well when going slow, and that sometimes automatically activate when going fast - stretch reflex. I think you have to find a balance of what to cue.

I didn’t watch much and have no sound.

Half right and half wrong, you do both

You can pull as much as you want and as hard as you want, you won’t be running at all unless you hit the ground.

seems right

Ive been working on pushing until I get up right then pulling in max-v on out

I have been reading this link on LinkedIN and I encourage any of you to take a look and or join in if you see it useful. It’s the discussion about coaching certification and standards in the NCAA for coaching but it applies to all people interested in coaching athletics.


It’s a topic I am interested in because of discussions regarding video’s posted in this thread.

I find the information in this video confusing based on the things I know for sure about sprinting.

Having said that, Have I said things that are confusing? Maybe I have. I certainly hope not.

I have been trying to relay, share and repeat what I know for sure about sprinting and getting faster.

An issue in our industry is a lack of common and accepted ideas about how to coach sprinting.

Or maybe there is a set of common and accepted ideas but it’s not professionally sanctioned.

NEVER once was I told to push.

This que means nothing to me nor does it give me information on how to put an action to this request.

If I think of pushing in athletic terms, I think of the action to push a sled dummy down the football field.

If I think of pulling I think of the arm action I was taught for the seated row and dumb bell arm pull.

I learned to be very good at both the seated arm pull and dumb bell arm pull and the analogy of how this exercise was directly asscociated to sprinting was routinely discussed throughout the training process.

NEVER ONCE was I told to ‘use your arms’ yet I hear this request shouted to athletes constantly at the track.

First off, it’s not totally obvious to most people that ‘using your arms’ is helpful. Once this idea has been understood by an athlete, the coach is making the erroneous conclusion that shouting this command will be 1. heard and 2. translate into action.

It’s a very common error for people to not use their arms. It’s not intentional. Usually they are weak or tight or their strength dominance is somewhere else and they were taught in error to ‘think’.

How do we get to the place were we can standardize effective instructions for people who want to be faster?

Angela, it just sounds like you were coached with a different set of cues then ones we’re talking about. Doesn’t make either wrong, different coaches and athletes focus on different things, the body being a dynamic system means you can give all sorts of commands and have them lead to the same results.

That said the coaches education behind those cues is obviously varied (and generally lacking if I’m looking at the high school coaches I work around), but I know one of the lead USTFCCCA educators - Vince Anderson is a big proponent of cuing ‘pushing’ (and I want to say he took it from Tellez but I could be very wrong there). Lots of paths to the same ends.

Agreed, it does not appear as if he is referring to what is understood as “paw back”.

That said, some of what he mentions regarding pulling the foot off the track is moot at higher velocities as the action is largely taken care of via the elastic response and momentum with the volitional “hip flexion” contributing a proportionally very small amount. The muscle/mechanical work done during early acceleration shifts to elastic/reflexive action at max V.


Mike Young has talked about pushing initially, then cycling at full velocity, more or less as Fraser-Pryce is doing. But if you try the Jamaican system with a lot of power development for months, if you sprint up a steep hill every week like I’ve been doing, you find that you CAN’T pull: You extend and push up the hill, and if do that every week (practice makes permanent) you develop that set of mechanics.

If you watch the videos of Bolt in slow motion at top speed, you’ll see what I mean.

As some of you have mentioned above that the author of this video ment quicker foot recovery by using term “pulling”
There is number of factors influencing leg recovery such as where the foot strikes ground re centre of the mass, foot position during ground contact (dorsi/ plantar-flexion), stiffness of the ankle joint (how much heel drops), position of the hip (anterior/ posterior rotation).
To apply maximum forces to the ground in my opinion is essential also the position of the body during application must be optimal which will allows the muscles to go through stretch shortening cycle. Pulling to me sound like rushing into the action for which body isn’t ready. Personally I think position on the ground is the deciding factor and foot recover is just a consequence of it.

Great post.
Also,another perspective may be, what’s the point of emphasizing arm action if the technique is incorrect, and as you say if the strength/flexibility properties are just not in place? Then you might only be magnifying the errors by attempting to fix it through cuing.

Yes, coach Barr here seems to be referring to the action of the upper leg coming forward as a means to moving forward. Reminds me of the Seagrave cue/concept where he tells his athletes to “pop the thigh forward”. Though, as a few here have already stated, it should still be more of the result of reflex, and improper cues may interfere with the timing of the natural reflex.

I don’t think you can really differentiate between pushing/pulling by watching video. This could be measured on forces plates, however, other variables such as breaking forces & peak force would be more significant.