Toe drag out the blocks

I know somewhere in this forum it was discussed before but I can’t find where. Asafa popularized the toe drag coming out of blocks. I remember the conversation being that it allowed him (as a taller sprinter) to increase stride rate in the beginning which is normally where taller sprinters struggle. In Bolt’s 9.58 run he did the same thing. When lined up with Gay, (who was on stride 2 when Bolt was on his 3rd), Bolt seemd to already created a bit of distance.

I just would like to hear some feedback on this method. I wouldn’t bet the family farm on it because Powell uses it and Gay seems to have his number now. To each his own I guess.

I noticed it in the CCTV clip posted yesterday. It reminded me of a previous discussion about how Powell’s rear foot doesn’t touch the track when in the blocks. The foot placement in the block is probably related to the low toe ground clearance you are referring to.

The reason for the low foot clearance out of the blocks is simply due to that being the path taken by the foot is much shorter than if the hamstrings pull it up. This low foot only lasts for a few steps.

Ok, but at an elite level, which is only my assumption, nothing is random. It is usually the result of training and presumed to be intentional. If that is the path taken by the foot, then why do it? To what end? Also, I am a bit confused as to how the hamstring pulls the foot up…can you elaborate. I assumed there was a pushing motion but the quads and hips were doing a bit of lifting and that point in recovery.

As Rainy said, it’s simply shorter to drag the foot to the next contact point rather than bring it through in an arc.

At what level you teach this, if at all, is up for debate. The high school kids I coach have much greater gains to be made through basic start mechanics and power development than they do dragging their toe. Like Charlie said, get the seconds first then worry about the hundredths.


I see. What you said is essentially the same as what was previously stated but we all don’t understand the same or at the same pace (i.e.- me).

Hello everyone, am a newbie. Just wanted to say thank you at “Stikki” for the diagram and explanation, very precise and easy to understand, have always had some difficulty in understanding other coaches saying stuff like ‘low heel recovery’, ‘running on hot coals’ etc, but not this explanation.

The foot drag is during the second step. The pic is the first step

with hip flexion (back leg out of blocks) the knee also flexes (with hams) to lift the foot.

The hamstring bends the knee, it does not extend it

who said it extends it?

The ham is lenghtened by the quad.

In the CF Fundamentals 1: Speed & Strength video Charlie talks about Lombard’s Paradox, where the hamstring, when it works on certain angles, becomes a knee extensor along with the quads.

At triple extension. If you run frontside the hammy becomes a break for the quads.

when the back leg is brought forward out of the blocks, initially there has been a little knee extension as the back foot leaves the block but momentarily later the hip and the knee both flex to clear the ground and the leg is brought forward to place the foot on the ground as the knee and hip then both extend. However, the issue on the other page was about the foot drag which is the hip/knee flexion phase here.

The front leg also has to flex at both the hip and the knee to clear the foot of the ground (a light drag being allowed).

If the knee did not flex along with the hip, then the athlete would go knowwhere, the foot would plough into the ground.

Lombards Paradox is irrelevant here. This is a simple issue of the knee flexing (along with the hip) to allow ground clearance for the foot out of the blocks. Watch youtube, watch yourself…

The knee angles become more acute (flexion) as the feet are brought forward out of the blocks to place on the ground ahead! Look at Usains back leg angle as it comes forward, the other leg will do similar. Only at the end of the swing phase does the knee/hip extend again.

Ok both these posts effectively say the same thing but there you go.

I added it to the discussion, not because it’s relevant to start mechanics, but to avoid blanket statements like, “hamstrings bend the knee, they don’t extend it.” Didn’t mean to offend. :slight_smile:

no it’s ok, I knew that really, was just seperating the discussion, cheers

The toe drag is a result of increasing stride length.