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slowcoach2
Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 8:43AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I coach at the high school level.

I have a runner who is a decent sprinter for high school but certainly not elite (23.2/52.1) and his stride rate is quicker than anyone I've ever seen. He looks like an Irish step dancer when he runs.

I feel like if I can get his stride length to be a fraction of an inch longer he's going to fly. What kind of drills / training could I do with him to increase his stride length?
Adam Smith
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 9:48AM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Let me get this straight:

You're a self-described "coach", but you're asking about stride-lengthening techniques on an internet message board?

What are you, a math teacher who got the shaft?

Do you get paid to do this?
coach
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 10:15AM - in reply to Adam Smith Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
why be rude? someone is asking for ideas. Anyway, have you tried plyometrics, hills and what type of drills do you do?
Another Option
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 10:22AM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
At a basic level, you're asking how to improve his sprint mechanics. Enter "sprint mechanics" into google or youtube and you will have plenty of information to work with and video support to explain it to yourself and your athlete.

People have devoted entire careers to this topic, so you're not going to get a complete coherent answer on a message board.

Most track coaches are more than willing to share their ideas. Find out who the best sprint coach is in your area. Contact him/her and ask them out to lunch so that you can pick their brain.
lease
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 10:28AM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Others will, no doubt, give advice about the legs. I have only a couple minutes, so will focus on the arms--except I will say not to have the kid "reach," with his foot, for a longer step: this may lengthen his stride, but because the foot lands well ahead of the center of gravity, this is a braking force that will kill his great turnover rate.

Re the arms: be sure that he runs with a relaxed elbow. Many runners, when told to "relax the arms," end up flapping the hand at the wrist. Paradoxically, this often ends up locking the elbow in one position, which is exactly what you don't want.

At top speed and with elbow relaxed, the sprinter's arm will open to maybe a 120-140 degree angle (at the elbow), when the arm is behind the torso; and close to maybe an 80-90 degree angle, when in front. http://www.lollylegs.com/images/lewis.jpg

This is not something that you have to *make* happen; the weight of the forearm/hand will make this opening/closing happen automatically IF the elbow stays relaxed, and IF the sprinter understands that his arms contribute to forward propulsion only as they swing behind his torso. Go to about the 3:00 mark in this clip to see how C. Lewis did it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7GE06jRCMc

This clip has a front view of B. Johnson's arms in his 9.79 race: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gFXa4AcD5w
Some excellent slo-mo of Johnson (and others) here--check esp. from about the 3:30 mark on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDoCkY0_6y8

To have a proper arm action, the sprinter's unspoken mantra can be "relax-back-relax-back-relax-back." Using the arms properly can add much more than that "fraction of an inch" you're looking for, while preserving the high turnover.
Sprintgeezer
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 10:54AM - in reply to lease Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I agree in principle with what lease said.

Important in sprinting is the foot position upon striking the ground--the foot should be cocked, or dorsiflexed--not to an extreme extent, but to a power position.

When athletes "reach" out in front of them with their foot, this advantageous dorsiflexion disappears, or else they would land on their heel with the ball of their foot in the air. The more they reach, the more plantar flexion occurs at the ankle, and the less beneficial force can be transmitted to the track. That, plus all the usual CofM and braking force arguments.

I would suggest that you tell the kid to concentrate on the angle of the foot, and to try to run "lower". I see a lot of kids running too high, and therefore not developing enough power, because they think that the taller they are, the faster they will be! Arm action drives leg action--good knee lift often means good rearward action with the opposing arm and leg, which means good recovery, which can enable a long stride.

I would have the kid do accelerations up a semi-gentle hill, concentrating on looking down at the ground, and on driving the knee forward...the angle of the ground will compensate for the lack of any dorsiflexion he may exhibit.

Then, when his body is somewhat accustomed to the arm mechanic that is required, and the resulting knee drive and recovery mechanic, transfer some of that to the track, and you will have increased stride length, for kids, for the first 30 or 40m.

For increased stride length at speed, I would put the kid on a treadmill, where conditions are controlled, and where he can learn to run lower and dorsiflex, where he can experiment with form without trying to actually go as fast as he can, as kids often do when on a track. Also, if you're inexperienced at coaching or sprinting, you could video him here with a cheap P&S with decent video, and give him some feedback that way--sometimes it's easier to see things on video, no matter how good a coach you may happen to be. Videoing on a treadmill is easy, too.

Also, get him to do lunge-walking, to get used to the idea of knee position, stretch, and force development in that position, while his foot is firmly in contact with the ground. During this movement, get him to concentrate on his foot plant, and to keep his weight over his foot so that he maintains his balance. The lunge-walking shouldn't be done too quickly at all--it's more about stretch, control, and position. Make sure he's not settling on his heels during this exercise, but that most of his weight is supported by the ball of his foot, which he can practice keeping dorsiflexed during this exercise.

Finally, get him to study videos of Jesse Owens, and tell him to work on his treadmill form until it matches Owens' form closely. His cycling was terrific, and with a reasonable stride length, Owens most certainly did not overstride--not only that, but he didn't stretch it out at the end of a race like guys do now, so video of him shows beautifully consistent high-speed form, perfect as an example to show a student.

I could go on, but there are lots of resources available, that give ideas better than I could ever do. Good luck!
slowcoach2
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 11:21AM - in reply to Sprintgeezer Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thank you for spending the time to help guys I really appreciate it.

I have the guys in warm ups doing lunges. We also have a short steep hill in which we train on every other day in the early season by bounding, sprints, and high knee drills. We sometimes do overspeed drills down a gentle grade on grass.

I was also worried about him trying to lengthen his stride for the reasons you guys have mentioned. I feel like if I can get it to happen naturally that would be best.

I like the ideas about arm movements. I've not tried that yet with him. Also, I will work on getting him lower in te power position with a good knee drive.

I had five athletes in Indoor Nationals this past weekend. I'm always trying to find ways to get them to the next level. Good advice about trying to find the best guy locally to talk to. I've found this site to be a really good resource in the past and know when I'm receiving great advice so it works for me. Thank you guys!
0bi
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 11:35AM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Generally speaking, It's all about delivering more power to the ground (decreasing gct and increasing both SL&SF as byproduct), you can improve "technique" efficiency and "force" aplication with fine "form" tunning but Imo what will really make ur sprinter progress (if technique is at least ok) is improving muscle motor unit discharge rate and recruitment, simply put MaxS, Plyometrics and speed work,ofcorse you cant do them all year round and always at 100%, it´s impossible thats when periodization comes into play, general preparation phases, spp phases,comp-phase peaks, recovery phases, etc...
It's simple, really... what is hard is putting everything together GenPrep, SPP, etc... to make sure they perform when it counts/improve and do not overtrain/get injured/etc...
Read some Charlie Francis and Tudor Bompas "stuff". Also worthwhile is "stuff" by Verkhoshansky.
Sprintgeezer
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 11:51AM - in reply to 0bi Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Further to my post, what Obi said!
lease
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 12:27PM - in reply to Sprintgeezer Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Okay, I'm back (briefly) and am pleased that some of the experts have weighed in. (I love it when these threads get participation from the pros--I learn so much!) I hope we can keep this thread going--and I also hope, OP, that you'll bump it periodically and let us know how the kid's doing.

One thing I remember in reading Jesse Owens's (alleged) autobiography is his high school coach's insistence on brief ground contact--I think the image was that of running on a hot griddle. You do want to apply power on each step, but VERY briefly--it's really "touch and go." (To the point where some excellent sprinters think more of moving their legs up and down, rather than back and forth!) Of course, the plyometric work really helps in developing *quick* force application.

If you can find the old Loren Seagrave/Kevin O’Donnell "Speed Dynamics" videos somewhere, I found those to be tremendously useful for coaches and athletes in explaining drills, mechanics, training, and periodization. (Sorry, I distributed my own copies during the Great Book & Tape Giveaway a few years ago--otherwise I'd send them to you.) I found that I agree with about 95% of what those guys had to say--sprint coaching is a pretty contentious field, as you may have noticed, so 95% is pretty good!

One thing I especially like about the relaxed-elbow thing I mentioned earlier: the arms mirror (actually, very slightly lead) what the legs are doing. Hence a relaxed elbow tends to lead to relaxation at the knee, which is one of the keys for that quick force application (and also reducing stress on the hamstring).
Avante
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 12:30PM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Who is the model we use for sprinting? All these guys have their own uniqueness. MJ ran nothing like Tommie Smith. Bob Hayes was about as ragged as it gets...10.06, Valery Borzov was robotic...10.07.

High schoolers running world class times, we know they haven't had the coaching we see at the world class level.

If a guy is fast he's fast, why this need to start messing with things?
lease
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 12:43PM - in reply to Avante Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Avante wrote:

Who is the model we use for sprinting? All these guys have their own uniqueness. MJ ran nothing like Tommie Smith. Bob Hayes was about as ragged as it gets...10.06, Valery Borzov was robotic...10.07.

If a guy is fast he's fast, why this need to start messing with things?


1) A 23.x kid is good, but not really "fast": it might benefit him to be "messed with."

2) As a youth, John Walker didn't lose any cross-country races (and his "training" for each was just the previous week's race--no running outside the races). So he was naturally "fast"; and yet people felt it was okay to "mess" with him and start him training. He got even faster after that.

3) If you think that "messing" is okay in the longer races that Walker ran, but not called for in sprints, you may need to learn more about sprints.

4) You're right, using one particular runner as a "model" for all sprinters is a mistake. But many top sprinters demonstrate *general principles*--adapted for their own bodies--that work for most other sprinters.
slowcoach2
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 1:21PM - in reply to lease Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Lease,

I looked over a video from our indoor season and noticed that his arms were going back tight at a 90 degree angle. Again I appreciate the advice. I will look into those sources you mentioned as well.

I have a lot of knowledge (never enough though!)in regards to distance training but I really want and need to expand my knowledge for the sprint events.
rertrtr
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/15/2012 2:39PM - in reply to Adam Smith Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Adam Smith wrote:

Let me get this straight:

You're a self-described "coach", but you're asking about stride-lengthening techniques on an internet message board?

What are you, a math teacher who got the shaft?

Do you get paid to do this?


This is the reason why, many white kids have no speed.
J.R.
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/16/2012 5:35PM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Thanks to everyone contributing on this thread.

I was focusing on some of the points this morning while running, especially the arms.

It would be interesting if some of you could comment on the form of Bekele, Geb, Tergat, Defar, Dibaba, Sylvia Kibet, and/or Vivian Cheruiyot, in relation to the points above, also Patrick Makau in his marathon WR.
runn
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/16/2012 6:01PM - in reply to Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Adam Smith wrote:

If you consider pertinent and probing question as "rude", then the reason that I am being "rude" is because the inefficient use of public funds, and the disservice thereby afforded to our children citizens, is a far more interesting and important issue than sprinting mechanics, and should take precedence over your immediate athletic concerns.

No need to answer anymore, you have provided enough information already, you public-sector union hack.


Good Lord, you are a real loser. You got some self esteem, problems?
The guy asked a question. You know what? Maybe he's a distance or field event guru and doesn't really know sprints. This is a good resource, except for people like you who have to be way too critical.
Misuse of public funds? Be seious.
Doped Jamaica
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/16/2012 6:14PM - in reply to slowcoach2 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Lift knees.

Maybe plyos?
slowcoach2
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/16/2012 8:13PM - in reply to runn Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

runn wrote:


Adam Smith wrote:

If you consider pertinent and probing question as "rude", then the reason that I am being "rude" is because the inefficient use of public funds, and the disservice thereby afforded to our children citizens, is a far more interesting and important issue than sprinting mechanics, and should take precedence over your immediate athletic concerns.

No need to answer anymore, you have provided enough information already, you public-sector union hack.


Good Lord, you are a real loser. You got some self esteem, problems?
The guy asked a question. You know what? Maybe he's a distance or field event guru and doesn't really know sprints. This is a good resource, except for people like you who have to be way too critical.
Misuse of public funds? Be seious.


Don't pay him any mind. I don't. I actually volunteered to coach this Winter and my wife and I raised all the money for the school's program because the team was not funded.

I just don't want to let the kids down due to my lack of knowledge. I agree this site is a great resource. Where else can you hear from Daniels, Canova, Hodge, Malley, Treacy, and numerous others willing to give their advice.
ye olde scholar
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 3/17/2012 3:19AM - in reply to Doped Jamaica Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
stride extension comes from DRIVE, not REACH. I'll echo the cautions of other posters: the first thing kids want to do when you tell them to extend their stride is REACHING FORWARD with the leg, moving the shin past perpendicular with the ground. Instead focus on driving off more from the ground, getting full extension through the hip, knee, and ankle. short strides "chop" off that full extension and rob you of power.
lease
RE: Improving stride length of sprinter 10/1/2012 8:33PM - in reply to ye olde scholar Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
So how did things work out for the kid?
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