Starting form

I have a problem with one young sprinter’s starting form (only one year of sprint training). She seems to drag her feet really close to the ground not getting good leg recovery. In top speed she is stepping over pretty well, so what might cause this in the starts? Any suggestions to correct it? Thanks.

How are her angles in the set position?
I would also check that her blocks are at a good length/spacing for her.
Is her leg action not crisp?
Do you think her hip flexors are weak?
Has she done hills or runs from a push up position?
Have you tried just doing those reaction drills? (just getting her in the blocks and react to the clap of your hands and taking 1 or 2 steps)

The same occurs from a push up position start and currently we are doing only hills and will introduce start work in a few weeks (without blocks). I think there might be some hip flexor weakness, but do you think that is the cause of this? Afterall shouldn’t the recovery leg swing forward with little hip flexor stress if the heel raises high enough (toward the buttocks). I have tried using a clue of lifting the heels higher with poor results.

“Stepping over” increases as you move further away from the blocks…then stays the same; heel recovery is not high during the first few steps.

I know you are not stepping over during the first few steps, but the problem here is that the athlete drags her feet too close to the ground making the recovery slow. If you see the form illustrations on the gpp dvd you can see very good recovery mechanics all the way from the first steps.

Is the driving leg fully extended (triple extension)?

Yes the extension is good although the hips are a bit low.

is she stepping real wide out of the blocks to compensate for her low knee lift? and along with her triple extension how is her start angle.

Not really. I’m not sure about the exact angle, but she does have a deeper start angle than most other sprinters of her age (16) mostly because she is very strong. The recovery knee angle barely breaks 90 degrees during the first few steps and only after 10 meters or so she starts to really lift her heels higher and eventually step over at top speed. Maybe this is something that corrects itself without any intervention. Thoughts?

I would start by concentrating on the arm action out of the start to try to generate better knee lift. It sounds like she is plenty strong but I would video her and look to see if she gets triple extension sometime athletes especially young one cannot activate their glutes and hamstrings properly. Just a few thoughts.

The only other thing I can think about without seeing video, is maybe, she is over-reaching. Check and see where touch-down is taking place…is it under or behind her COM for the first few steps.

Thanks theone. Unfortunately I can’t get the video online, but I watched some videos (from last spring) and found that this may be the case. In the first step the foot lands so that half of the foot is in front of her hip joint. On the second step I can’t get a good still at ground contact, but it seems that again it lands in front of the hip joint. Any clues etc. to help fix this problem?

You are right on with concentrating on the arm action. I will stress this more in her training.