Sprinting Coach/Athlete: Knowing to much about sprinting can be detrimental!

I am a sprinter who loves the science of sprinting and loves the descriptions of what good technique is. In my quest for knowledge I have learn many new things about this subject, but “paralysis by analysis” has been very detrimental to my performance. I am in school for health and fitness management/exercise science and I want to be a coach or athletic trainer one day and open up my own gym for athletes to come and improve their mechanics and techniques. I want to be an athlete first and and coach second. How can I continue to improve my knowledge on the skill of sprinting as a coach without over-thinking things as an athlete?

keep it simple, stupid

you’ll learn by experience, seriously

I would say that it is like being a writer in that you have to know your audience. I would write much differently for an article aimed at teenage boys, than if I was writing for middle aged women. If you’ve coached both genders long enough you know that you can, and in some cases have to, approach each quite a bit differently. You need to be able to customize your coaching to the athlete. For instance, on this message board I would think it would be fine to expound on topics, as I would hope there are some folks here with some solid experience and science in their background. Charlie Francis has a very fine book from the early '90s that is approx 200 pgs long, and a pdf document available on this very site copyrighted in 2008 that is 270 pgs long…both on the sole topic of sprinting. I would recommend both as very fine sources of information on our sport. The “Key Elements” document available on this site is very good and thorough.

When working with athletes you will find the same thing. There will be some kids and young adults who you can talk to like they are “coaches in training”, and there will be some kids and young adults who will not understand what you mean from the simplest of instructions. If you have an young adult athlete (who has experienced university level education) who does not know what the nervous system is or does, even though they have been taught it in school since Jr. High health class, then that athlete probably won’t be able to handle much detail. I have had an athlete who consistently couldn’t remember what foot they put forward when they began their jump run up. That kid needed the kiss method. Every once in a while you’ll get a physically talented kid who will want to know the ins and outs of the event or sport, and those are the ones that can be really special. It’s like being lucky enough to coach a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady versus being unlucky enough to coach a Tony Couch or a Ryan Leaf. All are physically gifted enough to be QBs in the league, but two understand to the fullest extent, while the other two just don’t understand.

It is all relative. Some you will very much have to use the kiss method. While others can thrive with more details given. Through experience you will be able to customize your coaching to the athlete. As a coach you should aspire to fully understand your sport then be able to customize your coaching, and not to apply the kiss method to your own understanding of the sport.

Read the book - How to Win Friends and Influence People
As a coach, you need to be able to Sell - or have somebody sell for you. If you’re a great coach, and nobody knows, you’ll train nobody.

If you’re serious about learning - get as many books and dvd’s from this site, and get either your Strength And Conditioning degree or Exercise Physiology Degree - the later one is great for getting government grants.
Without a proper degree of sorts, then you may not be able to insure yourself - in this day of age, something you’ll need.

Once you have done all that - That is when you’ll start to really Learn. On the job learning.
All the certificate getting etc is just a platform - after which, you’ll learn more in 2yrs on the job than all that Certificate and study did combined. (at least that’s what should happen)

What do you mean?

I think I may have misled you all with my post. I appreciate all of the advice on how to be serious about coaching, but what I was saying is I know what the athlete should be doing and I know very much about the science of the sport. My question was how can I keep MYSELF from suffering from “Paralysis by Analysis” since I have learned so much. I want to be a competitive athlete without over-thinking things when it is time to race.

focus on cue’s and feel rather than specific technique

Thanks John I appreciate the advice.

Yep, misunderstood your original question.

I find it helpful to only focus on what my posture, and what my biggest joints (hips and and shoulders) are doing. Good spine and pelvis posture are essential for anything else to happen correctly. After that, I know that the body has a “proximal-to-distal” reflex. Meaning if you use the most proximal joints correctly, which are the biggest and strongest, with good ROM and timing, then the rest of the more distal joints (smaller and progressively weaker) will work correctly and efficiently without much effort. Allowing the bodies reflexes to work is more than half the battle. This is why in an earlier post is suggested that you try to relax your hamstrings when running at top speed.

That is one or two things that I’ll focus on mostly during a workout. I’ll really focus on posture early on in warm-up, then once I feel like I have some solidity there I’ll mostly think about hip extension for the rest of warm-up…and then usually when I get into build-ups I’ll start to work shoulders into the hip extension cueing mix. After that, if my nervous system is relatively responsive that day I’ll throw one or two more things in there…but 75% of time will leave it at that.

Okay that is very understandable. I will just try to keep it simple and continue to work on posture, pumping my arms, and stepping down.

or perhaps not focus on anything except relaxing and being confident when you are running. if you are training properly, your body should naturally follow with good form in the race.

I was just referring to practicing good habits.

Is the problem: Knowing too much? Or thinking too much?

You can never know too much.

Use your knowledge to find a coach who knows - really knows - this game. Then leave the thinking up to your coach.

That is exactly the advice that I am going to take. I appreciate all of the comments.

when you know nothing, everything is simple

when you know some, everything is complicated

when you know much, everything get simple again…

The more you know, the more you realise you really know very little

As said by the master, one of my favorite quotes:

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just a punch, a kick was just a kick.
After I’d studied the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch, a kick is just a kick.” -BRUCE LEE

Thanks For all of the advice guys I really appreciate all of the feedback. I will continue to learn and grow and try to implement little adjustments as over time. I miss Charlie and I wish he was still here so I could tell him how much I appreciate this site :slight_smile: