Should "stepping over the knee" be actively done or is it an automatic action?

I’m still somewhat confused about the step over cue. I’ve read from many places where coaches often cue their athletes to consciously step over their opposite knee as if there is a rubber band attached to their heel pulling their heel towards their buttocks. Then there are people who say that stepping over the opposite knee is more of a reflex and you should only worry about the step down part.

Collapsing the knee of the recovery leg shortens the moment arm and, as a result, lessens the mechanical energy placed upon the hip flexors to cycle the leg forward. When this happens the foot of the recovery leg naturally passes the knee of the support leg in a position superior relative to the vertical axis- hence toe over knee.

As to whether this is a viable real time cue, this is entirely debatable.

Could you further elaborate on the meaning of collapsing the knee of the recovery leg? Basically you are saying the foot steps over the knee happens naturally as the result of proper posture, stepping down and applying force to the ground.

Collapsing the knee = fully flexing the knee. The more flexed the knee the shorter the lever arm of the leg becomes (the opposite being to run with extended knees such as scissor bound). The knee bends naturally following toe-off, however, the degree to which the sprinter maintains pelvic neutrality, hip height, and possesses muscular suppleness determines the height of heel recovery, the position of the femur at the height of heel recovery, and degree to which the recovery knee bends as it cycles through.

Elite sprinters share in common the lower leg of the recovery leg being relatively parallel with the horizontal axis and perpendicular to the support leg at ground contact. Stepping down occurs after this.

I wouldn’t focus on trying to step over the support knee. If you do, what’s likely to happen is you’ll drive the knee too high, which will cause your hips to drop and your support knee to deflect. Rather, think about cocking the foot and stepping down. The movement will feel more vertical than cyclical, like stamping your feet up and down. The cyclical action of the swing foot passing over the support knee will still happen, but it will be so quick you won’t really feel it.

It’s hard to give more precise cues without watching you in person and making fine adjustments.

thank you that was very helpful. When you say cock the foot do you mean dorsiflex and point the toe up?

That’s exactly what I mean.

Thanks, I will work on that. Should I try to dorsiflex my foot during the entire duration of the run or only portions of it such as prior to ground contact?

You’re overthinking this. Just pick the foot up and step down.

Prior to ground contact. It’s impossible to dorsiflex your foot for the entire sprint cycle.

You should really only be aware of front side mechanics.