Are there any cues or drills that people have found useful/helpful for improving the stepping over action? At the moment my ankle is just above the support knee, but I see much more fluid and efficient (faster) running in those who manage to kick their butt on the recovery and then step over.
This is probably the single most important lesson I learned from my short training period with Charlie. As I have written ad nauseum in several posts over the years, there is a big difference between what your body is actually doing (as seen by an outside observer) and what you subjectively feel it doing. (This is why Charlie continually writes in Speed Trap that it was more challenging to coach his sprinters when they became faster than him because he had no personal reference point of what sprinting at the level should feel like, which makes it harder to give the right cues.)
In the case of stepping over and down you really shouldn’t feel the recovery of the swing foot over the support knee (let alone a butt kick) because the action is occurring so quickly. If you consciously emphasize the recovery so that you actually feel the foot passing over the knee you will end up exaggerating the knee lift which will cause your hips to drop. This will retard your stride frequency and cause deflection in the support knee. This was the mistake I was making. I was trying to feel the description of proper technique.
After Charlie corrected my technique, the action subjectively felt more like I was stepping over the support ankle (rather than the knee), and the overall sensation was more like stamping my feet up and down rather than a cyclical motion. It felt very odd at first, and if Charlie had not been standing there telling me that my technique was correct I never would have known in a million years that’s what correct sprinting feels like. This a great example of the difference between hands-on coaching versus just words on paper. It pretty much changed my whole running technique.
Different cues will work for different people, but my advice would be to not even think about stepping over and think more about simply stepping down. That goes for early acceleration mechanics as well. Just cock the foot and step straight down (and pump the arms) and the rest will fall into place. I’ve also found that concentrating on stepping straight down during acceleration prevents me from popping up prematurely.
I am referring to the drills where you practice the recovery stage of a revolution, (heel to butt-stepping over knee) and trying to carry it into the running stride. The emphasis should be swing, to get the leg/foot back as fast as possible to the power position.
In the post by Flash he says “In the case of stepping over and down you really shouldn’t feel the recovery of the swing foot over the support knee (let alone a butt kick) because the action is occurring so quickly. If you consciously emphasize the recovery so that you actually feel the foot passing over the knee you will end up exaggerating the knee lift which will cause your hips to drop. This will retard your stride frequency and cause deflection in the support knee. This was the mistake I was making. I was trying to feel the description of proper technique.”
this video is of an athlete who has a whole lot of trouble stepping over, complains of hip flexor tightness frequentl, unfortunately its long and a football highlight, but I am sure if gives you a solid idea. Thoughts?
I’m not ready to entirely dismiss all drills that emphasize recovery. It depends on the needs of the athlete. For example, Charlie showed me a terrific drill that he used as an athlete to teach himself to keep the feet under the body during recovery instead of cartwheeling behind.
However, when you move from drills (which are relatively slow) to actual sprinting, it’s a whole different ballgame. When you’re sprinting, by the time the plant foot hits the ground the swing foot is already off the ground and coming over the support knee. If you try to switch your focus from stepping down with the first foot back to stepping over with the other foot you’re behind the power curve because that foot is already on its way over and forward. If you think about raising it, you’re more likely to unnecessarily exaggerate the motion. You really only have time to think about cocking the swing foot in preparation for the next step down.
I am not suggesting all drills should be disregarded, but (heel to butt-stepping over knee) and trying to carry it into the running stride has not worked for me. I do have old vhs videos (1980’s) of athletes before and after. It’s ironic that the athletes appear to perform the action at speed, the faster the speed the better the action. I ended up treating drills as a motor skill and dropped the ones I have questioned.
My wife was coaching some athletes yesterday afternoon, one of the girls has been accepted at a sport school and she commented her school coach has a new drill, one she has been doing for a couple of years, she asked if she was to do the drill the old way or the new way. The new way is how I was doing it 10+ years ago, so she was told to say she is trying but is a motor moron. I have known the coach since the 1980’s and paid him once to coach at a clinic, no other coach would allow their athletes to come to the clinic so I had some athletes I coached go, the first thing the coach said was “your coach has no idea what they are doing, I do”, he only had one athlete change over and she hasn’t improved since.
I agree with your second paragraph and Charlies drill feet under body would be relevant because the brain has time to incorporate it during the power curve.