An article in a fitness magazine described and illustrated a few drills that were designed to improve sprinting form and get you faster. As is well known, if the drill duplicates what occurs in execution of the sprint stride it will have a definite positive effect on your running speed. Once you understand what occurs in the running stride, i.e., have a good understanding of running and especially sprinting technique, you will be able to evaluate any drills that are recommended for use. For example in the article one of the drills was pumping the arms while in a seated position.
In this exercise the arms were kept bent at a 90° angle and pumped back and forth through a full range of motion so that the shoulders also turned and one side of the hips were slightly lifted and moved forward. Doing this required substantial shoulder rotation — something not wanted in efficient running!
In sprinting however, the arm straightens on the down (back) swing. It remains bent at 90° only in the forward drive and is seen mainly in long-distance running. In addition, the hips are kept basically stationary. Thus this drill does not duplicate what takes place in sprinting.
Another drill was high knees which resembled running in place with a knee lift close to the chest and using the arms through a full range of motion while keeping them bent at 90°. However such movements do not occur in sprinting. The knee is not lifted upwards; it is driven forward. The butt kick was another drill recommended. It was executed in a standing position with the thigh perpendicular to the ground. The object was to bring the heel up behind the body as though kicking yourself in the butt. In sprinting however, the thigh is in motion forward when the heel gets close to the buttocks. In good sprinters the thigh is forward of the body when the heel gets close to the buttocks. Thus this drill does not duplicate what occurs in the sprint. Still another was the heel up, knee up drill. In this drill the runner executes a butt kick followed by a knee lift followed by a driving down of the thigh to make contact with the ground. Omitted in this drill is that the shin swings out after the thigh is driven forward. This very important action should be the essence of this drill. Thus once again we do not see any duplication of what occurs in sprinting.
When the drills do not duplicate what occurs in the running stride not only will they not have a positive effect on running speed, but they may also act to slow you down. Thus it is important that you select drills that duplicate what occurs in the running stride. First, it is necessary to do a visual biomechanical analysis to make sure that the runner executes the movements that you will be duplicating in the drills.
Do you agree or disagree with the points of this article? Please respond BEFORE looking at who the article was written by. If the article is in a fitness magazine then it will be geared towards novice sprinters. In my opinion, those drills will improve the running form.