Stepping over

I should probably clarify that this isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all cue. I’m speaking more athlete to athlete here, assuming you’re training on your own. The description above is simply what I felt after Charlie adjusted my technique. Initially I was dangling my foot (not even really paying attention to the foot) and driving my knee too high (thereby causing my hips to drop). Charlie’s cue was to cock the foot and step over and down. There were a few drills to emphasize this action, but this was what they were aimed at achieving. The focus shifted from my knee down to the foot, and everything else fell into place. The resulting sensation felt extremely odd at first, like I was just stamping up and down. There was no sense of cycling or horizontal force (just like he described in Speed Trap, but now I really knew what he meant by it). If Charlie had not been standing there telling me it looked good, I would have never known that’s what correct sprint technique felt like. That and the fact that we were indoors, and the wall at the end was suddenly coming at me much faster.

this is why you need a trained eye because you may feel you are doing x but when you actually see it then its not how it should look. feel vs real!

I understand totally but just say an athlete was landing in front of COM. what would Charlie have said to the athlete to get them to understand to land under COM? what cue would he have typically used?

thanks ange for the replies as the advice is like gold

1 of the reasons im trying to draw out some questions is due to the fact that sprinting and sprint training aint rocket science. keep it simple guys and cf told me this via telephone years ago.

ange you are a wealth of information and in particular its the inside info thought to you from Charlie. he was head and shoulders ahead of his game and coaches nowadays use the exact same principles as Charlie preached. I like your simple but to the point answers and thanks again for giving us the time to post, keeping the site alive and getting responses from yourself!

I second that.

and a few of my fav posters of all-time still make time to visit and post as well i.e. lkh, James Smith. T-slow, flash, etc, etc.

Thank you.

So do I.

This is the only forum I know of.

What you’re describing is overstriding. Correcting it depends on many specifics and a coach who knows and can see all the variables. For example, it might be the product of inadequate strength levels, in which case it should take care of itself as power output increases and the hips travel higher off the ground, allowing the foot to touch down closer to center mass with the leg fully extended. Then again, it might be from something else entirely that does in fact require a correcting cue.

Trying too hard or pressing comes to mind when someone is overstridding.

Do you feel like you are trying too hard? Wait to hear what they say?

It’s important that you relax when you run. Do you feel relaxed? What for the answer.

Maybe you need to think about some drills to get this person feeling more of the pattern of a normal stride length. ( We used hills in some cases because you need to use your arms or you will not be going anywhere. )

you know I love the clap drill as it’s childish and perfect for almost everyone. it’s a brilliant drill and it’s virtually impossible for the person doing it to mess it up. You need to get that person feeling what is correct.

Observe and watch , asks questions and keep an open mind and try different things.

What is COM?

COM-centre of mass or I should have used BDC-bottom dead centre

This is quite interesting. I was wondering if you could maybe elaborate possibly? See, to me, when I think of ‘stamping’, like as if I just came inside with snow on my shoes, I think more of putting the heel down, though I can see how you mean by stamping there wouldn’t be a sense of cycling (more of the up and down sensation). I was just wondering if there are some different terms to describe it because stamping makes my body think of heavy heel contact, at least as far as the action of the ankle/foot is concerned.

I’m not using stamping as a cue. I just meant I only feel my feet going up and down, the horizontal element is practically imperceptible. Someone might use slightly different terminology. We’re running up against the limits of written communication. Ultimately this stuff has to be coached in person. But as a starting point, my recommended cue is cock the foot and step down. The sensation of cocking the foot covers the swing/recovery phase of the cycle, and the stepping down covers the ground strike obviously. Don’t overthink it.

This is from Speed Trap: “The strongest sprinters spend the least time in pushing along the ground. They focus instead on moving their legs up and down, and are barely conscious of how their force is translated into horizontal impetus. They feel ease rather than power in their motion, since they overcome resistive forces - ground and air, gravity and inertia - with so little difficulty.”

It is in cases such as this where the transference from drills such as the running A may be realized. In this way, the vertical action kinematics that are practiced are attainable at the slow velocities of power speed and, therefore, actionable at the conscious level accompanied by feedback loop. I like to use “intensity brackets” to advance the biodynamic variables that allow such a drill to more directly transfer to actual sprinting. I’ll have a video lecture posted on my site that covers this.

I think that drills are helpful in that they can allow you to consciously focus on a cue/sensation at slower speed and perhaps exaggerate a cue for learning purposes. I think that is one of their primary benefits. That’s why I’m not impressed with kinematic studies regarding the lack of biomechanical specificity/carryover vis-a-via sprint technique. That’s not their purpose. The people who do these studies have probably never experienced proper sprint technique or been coached for it. As such they are blissfully (negligently?) unaware of the difference between objective movement and subjective perception of movement I described above. As an objective biomechanical training method, the drills might not be very good. But as a way to coach and develop the subjective cues and sensations of sprint technique they are quite helpful.

james thank god you never coached me as I wouldn’t have a clue in what in are explaining. Charlie told me years ago to keep it simple. overcomplicate natural movments and your screwed! my original post which started this thread was regarding stepping over- to step over what?

I have worked with another world class coach whom ill not name and he also kept things simple and explained with simplicity. hope you guys understand

This is why I usually just say step down. The cocking of the foot seems to cover the up and over part. But from my personal (subjective) experience, to me it feels like I’m stepping over the support ankle around mid shin rather than over the support knee. Previously I was self consciously trying to feel the sensation of coming over the support knee, which was exaggerating the knee lift of the swing leg and causing my hips to drop, not to mention retarding stride frequency.

That’s also where the stamping sensation comes it because it didn’t feel like I was lifting my feet very high. The range of motion felt much shorter. In truth it was simply happening faster.

This does make a lot of sense. Since I have made some significant changes to minimize my swing phase and become more front-side oriented, I can attest to much of what you said - such as, the range of motion feeling shorter. And, what you said about exaggerating the knee lift which drops the hips and limiting speed is true. Even though I’ve worked to make things more front-side, I really haven’t increased my knee lift. It’s just the timing of things that’s changed, and as you say, the stride cycle is just happening faster.

This is where the efficacy of the various drills, modified running A’s or “dribbling as Pfaff refers to them” serve great purposes. You’ll see some track coaches utilize small hurdles for this sort of work in which the degree of hip flexion of the swing leg is moderated based upon what’s happening at the level of the hips.

I’ve found that single leg drills of this sort (some refer to as fast leg) are very useful as the entire concept begins with forebrain work anyway so by limiting the amount of moving parts the athlete is more able to make advances toward the process of automation.

Flash, I was wondering what you would say the sensations of optimal mechanics are during the start and transition, compared to the “up down” mechanics you described here of max v.