Wall Drills and Dorsiflexion

Charlie or anybody else,
what are the biggest criticisms of utilizing wall drills and ankle dorsiflexion when teaching sprint mechanics?

Anybody got any feedback!? :confused:

It might help demonstrate to anyone unsure as to a visual/general example of an acceleration angle and maintaining a straight line from back leg through the trunk. As to teaching someone proper sprint mechanics and mechanically how to accelerate, I don’t believe it is helpful at all. I believe this is especially true with regards to leaving the arms out of the movement which we all know here is vital to acceleration speed and skill. I had my athletes do this for about two seasons before I dropped it. I review the contents of my program(as I know many do) and felt like it was a waste of time and quite tiring as well without getting anything really positive from it.

Thank you for your feedback! How do you mimic or train the body positioning for the acceleration phase if you do not utilize a stable/ stationary position? I know the arms are essentially but what about breaking down the mechanics into subsets? And what about dorsiflexion, (i.e. “ankles cocked”) any value? I read on another thread that the HIPS are the primary propulsion but won’t dorsiflexion initiate a stronger contraction of the hammies which will in turn decrease the recovery phase? Thanks again.


One way to prepare the body for he explosive action of the starts accelerations is via the use of the explosive med ball throws-this along with the proper use of the arms will aid in developing that straight line along with improved general strength capacity. As far as the dorsiflexion, many people(not all but many)dorsiflex naturally and no-one will dorsiflex throughout a sprint stride anyway, particularly when you toe off so over emphasizing it might just cause you to use dorsiflexion not only when it’s not needed but also when it’s less than the ideal. I personally see it as a waste of time and energy unless I’m attempting to visually demonstrate an accelerative position.

I understand utilizing med balls to develop explosive start but what about training the body to maintain the proper body position in the acceleration phase, i.e. not coming upright too quickly?

You are trying to practice acceleration mechanics in a specific manner with the wall drill but, the very fact that you are holding yourself up with your hands makes it non-specific.

THEONE Thank you for your feedback! So how would you train the acceleration phase and teach body position?

Specific work would be actual acceleration!! The GPP DVD does a great job of outlining mechanics. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. You’re trying to bring acceleration into the gym when it belongs on the track or field. The body position is specific to the sprint. A wall drill is good for teaching extension, but not for acceleration.

What are your thoughts on dorsiflexion or “ankles cocked” is it possible to keep it through the full range and if so are there benefits after ground contact?

I believe the idea is to be dorsi flexed during the swing phase and plantar flex immediatly prior to ground contact although this should happen naturally. Obviously if you werent to plantar flex upon ground contact triple extension (no extension of the ankle joint, since the ankle is flexed rather than extended) would be out of the question and you would fall on your face. Im not sure If I am understanding what you have written correctly. Please excuse me if I have.

Maybe I’m stating it unclearly…dorsiflexion …with the objective to strike the ground either behind (acceleration phase)the center of mass (COM) or as close to COM as possible when at MaxV. The dorsiflexion initiates a “spring like” action upon ground contact due to the elastic qualities of the achilles tendon…kind of like the design of the “sprinter attachments” ( don’t know the correct term) that some Paralympic amputee athletes utilize when competing. Do I have it all wrong? Is this even possible…if I plantar flex won’t my foot collapse or deceleration occur due to striking the base of support in front of the COM? What are your thoughts?

Sounds like someone has been watching Loren Seagrave’s videos. The best way to train acceleration positioning without going at full speed is performing hill sprints. Hill sprints teach acceleration positioning by moving the ground up relative to the body, rather than the other way around (as on the track).

Seagrave’s dorsiflexion advice is nonsense. The last thing you want to do is deliberately cut off a stride before you’ve reached full extension in the ankle. Attempting to do so will reduce your power output and chop your stride in a mistaken attempt to artifically increase stride frequency.

What should happen is the foot cocking to point the ball of the foot toward the ground as the foot crosses over the knee.

Why do you say, “Seagrave’s dorsiflexion advice is nonsense?” What else in Loren Seagrave’s methods do you disagree with?

Do a search for dorsiflexion. There has been a ton of discussion in the archives. I’m not even going to attempt to reproduce it here.

As far as what other of Seagrave’s methods I disagree with, pretty much all of them. I hope you’re not doing overspeed training, and please tell me you didn’t buy an acceleration ladder (both of which I stupidly did 10-12 years ago).

Acceleration Ladder as in the equipment used to increase stride length over 40meters…I forget the initial protocol but I think it increases by a 1.5-2 ft per step depending upon ones stregth levels and the initial step is very short…I haven’t purchased one but I know what you are talking about. What are your objections to the acceleration ladder? What other methods do you question specifically?

Again, do a search of the archive for acceleration ladder. There has been a lot of discussion of this topic over the last three years. The short answer is that you have to conciously think about foot placement while running over the ladder, which is the last thing you want to do. The less concious awareness of what you’re doing, the better.

Another objection is the complex breathing pattern that is used in Seagrave’s race modeling. Forget about race models. Flick the wrist to come out of the blocks and then pump your arms. Everything else will fall into place.

Not being sarcastic…but if everything just “falls into place” why the necessity for a coach?

I don’t think Flash meant it literally, I just think he meant that Seagrave has a way of turning sprints into a chess match rather than what it is. Not that he’s a bad coach, just that some of his training concepts seem to confuse athletes. If an athlete understands and improves under Seagrave, that’s what it’s all about. I think Flash is just saying that there is a better way.

I remember when I was at a clinic chatting with James Robinsion (800m runner Olympian 70-something olympics) and one of the coaches was makings us do wall sits while he walked around espousing how much good they did for you. And Mr. Robinson says to me, he says, “These are silly, you work the same muscles doing hills as you do doing these silly sits, and hills are better for you.”