The Truth about Drive Phase

The Drive Phase is considered to be a method of applying consistency. Most advocate of the DP (including members of HSI) believes that the DP allows them to be more consistent. Whereas a person can run tremendously fast without the DP, proponents believe that the DP allows them to run fast in a consistent manner. In a nutshell, according to John Smith, the drive phase consist of driving out the blocks and gradually raising up like an airplane taking off. . Having said that, if you are looking for some scientific explanation on why DP is a superior form of acceleration, you are not going to find it.

In conclusion, the Drive Phase is a method used to promote consistency. What it does NOT do is improve speed!

The same metaphor (airplane) has been used to cue long and triple jumpers who tend to hurry their final approach to the board and therefore loose their momentum for a powerful and smooth takeoff. The problem is very common, and the cue (waiting, or rather: NOT HURRYING) is very effective. However, it doesn’t mean you should overemphasize and keep your head between your legs while accelerating. The “drive phase” might be something “new and cool” for the sprints, but in the horizontal jumps a similar idea has been around for ages.

I have been using the “airplane” example with my athlete’s for years. I think I got it from Charlie back in 2002. If the airplane tries to lift off before it has enough speed, it comes back down right away. It is the same with the hips. It they come up too soon, or pop up, they end up dropping and the athlete is then forced to accelerate again.

Consistency allows for Motor rehearsal, which will increase speed. So, indirectly, having a consistent start will increase speed.

This is very true. Tellez said it was on the long jump runway that Carl developed his acceleration pattern.

Yes, I knew someone would mention the fact that consistency will help speed through efficiency! However, this could be said for any acceleration technique that promotes efficiency/consistency, and is not limited to the Drive Phase. Hell, getting good sleep improves speed :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

My point was that the drive phase is a method use for consistency NOT speed development in the way strength training (plyo, weights, etc.), and other sprint training is…

I believe that the reason why most of us think Drive Phase regards speed development ( and not only consistency ) is because those famous athletes who used this method are faster than others even before 30m mark. BTW, does anyone knows Trevor´s opinion about the Drive Phase ? I can see Gatlin doing this thing clearly and it´s working very good for him. So, he´s training over DF for how long ?

You’re right! People are relating the Drive Phase with speed development. And this is the MAIN reason why I started this thread…

It’s is a farce to state just “those famous athletes who used this method are faster than others even before 30m mark.” Gatlin, Mo, and Asafa 30m (or 60m for that matter) isn’t faster than Ben at 9.79. Nor are their top speeds -under 12mps.

Having said that, we know that HSI developed the Drive Phase. What can be concluded from HSI athletes using the Drive Phase is that they ran more sub 10’s than any other group. Also Mo has run some of the fastest 100m. But, take away Mo Greene and HSI next fastest athlete best is a 9.86. Impressive time, but at least 6 others have run equal to faster times. Hence the reason why consistency is attributed to the Drive Phase clearly! The truth is Ben Johnson, Donovan Bailey, Bruny Surin, Leroy Burrell, Carl Lewis, and Frank Fredericks all have extremely fast times without the drive phase as we know it.

The fact that most of the current fastest athletes are using it doesn’t indicate that the Drive Phase developes speed clearly. There are too many other variables involved to come to that conclusion! For example, two world records were set on Athens track! Coincidence? Or an important variable?

Really, this reminds me of when Michael Johnson was dominating the 400m. Many people stated that MJ form was the quintessential form for the 400m because of his superior performance. Some even imitated (like one of the Harrison twins) with less success!

Btw, there is no guarantee that the drive phase promotes consistency. It is just the best reason DP proponents have presented.

Quick comment: The records set in Athens were on different tracks.

Yes, however, the type of track (both fast tracks) and conditions (good weather, decent tailwind) were similar!

Last night Arron got a lousy start and fell behind Sturrup, she then ended her acceleration too early hurrying to reach max speed … and, of course, lost to Sturrup by one tenth. Had she accelerated longer – in the way we sometimes see her do – she would have ran a better time. The same thing happened to Frederics when Mo ran 9.79 in Athens.

So even thou the drive phase is an artificial concept for those who know what they are doing (and in contrast to the ones who think it will make you accelerate faster when keeping their head down), it will ensure long-enough-acceleration and therefore maximize the end result (faster times). So, in a way, it could make you faster … since the only thing that matters is the end result!

I think we have to look at the drive phase from the runner’s standpoint, not the objective or scientific standpoint. It’s just a cue for maximizing the potential. If someone accelerates longer with their thumbs kept in their butt, then that system should be utilized for that individual in question.

It’s not only a problem of technique, Christine is not yet fit enough to manage the technical prowess you describe. Exactly one month ago she opened in 11.40! Her preparation problem came from her injury at European Indoor Champs in March. Now, her 10.94 (reaction time 0.180) is her fastest time since 1998 Budapest final (10.73). Wind was helpfull but i have no doubt she will do it soon in still wind.
Concerning drive phase, don’t forget that Christine trained at HSI with John Smith in 2001!
From the side view, Chandra’s upper body is fully upright at 60m, Christine at 40m. Florence Griffith Joyner, even without drive phase, had her her higher torso angle relative to the ground at 60m, like Marita Koch, etc. Privalova (and Ben J) was the most consistent starter (still unparalelled) even before HSI’s birth. Stride pattern for “drivers” is not different from “classic starters”. To me, HSI invented a name on something which which already existed, however, calling it “head down style” led to many mistakes for many sprinters.

Good points!

I believe Charlie stated that how quickly the torso raises up is a matter of strength and forcing it to stay down longer is counter-productive.

I understand the coming up gradually aspect of the drive phase. That’s just proper acceleration. What I don’t understand is keeping your head down. Could it be that many sprinters don’t have the lower back strength of Ben Johnson to maintain the extreme body angles with an upright posture.

Yeah but Ben have some advantages here, his head was a bit small than normal, and his torso and lower back was biger than almost every sprinter we know. The only “tunnel” for here, was in his back, the tunnel of dorsal spine between the big muscles in lower back. :smiley:

As I see it,the genius in coaching/performance enhancement lies, not in “inventing” new things, but in uncovering/identifying those naturally occuring phenomena which lead to desired outcomes and developing non-cerebral ways of cueing or conditioning them for performance purposes. Let’s remember that it is one thing to talk in terms of physics, mathematics, kinesiology, and the neverending technicality which is part of theoretical science, but it is quite another to communicate this to an athlete in a way that is practical and meaningful. The type of discussions that (necessarily) occur in a forum like this can actually have an adverse effect on the focus, hence performance, of someone trying to translate lofty concepts into results. I.e too much “thinking” and while “doing”. So it matters not if HSI, or whoever, “came up with” a concept but whether this training approach works.

I’m curious to know alternate experiences or approaches that others have found to be of value for prompting or training an optimal start.

Couple things:

1.The type of discussions that occur in this forum will have an adverse effect on performance only if someone lose perspective.

  1. GPP Essentials by Charlie Francis teaches how to start correctly. This way one will not lose perspective. Hence point 1.