3 Common Sprinting Mistakes You’re Committing
Few years back, one of my football players sent me a video of himself returning an interception. I quickly congratulated him, and gave him a plan of what we could fix during the next off-season. See, in his video, I got a look at his natural sprinting tendencies. And I noticed, he was committing some deadly sprinting mistakes.
Flash forward to this year.
Similar circumstance. He sends a video of himself returning an interception.
The difference was JARRING.
In this new video, his sprinting mechanics were sound. He looked much more poised. His use of energy was much more efficient.
And of course, he was much faster.
It was exciting for me and for him, and this excitement is carrying me through writing this post about 3 common sprinting mistakes you might be committing.
Yes, below, I’m going to share 3 killer sprinting mistakes I see guys committing that are holding back their speed potential.
Here we go:
When your mom bakes you a cake, she starts by making the sponge. The sponge is the foundation. It’s what makes or breaks the cake tasting great, or tasting terrible.
She gets the sponge right first, then she adds the frosting to add a little sweetness.
Same way with sprinting.
The mechanics are the sponge. They’re what make or break you.
The absolute strength and explosive power, they’re the frosting on top. They put the extra pop in your sprint.
And sure, you can have the pop in your sprint without the mechanics, but it’s just like eating frosting without the sponge. You’ll feel like something is missing, and if you eat too much, you’ll get a toothache.
Essentially what I’m saying is, mechanics are the often overlooked secret to speed. They should be addressed before adding layers of strength and power.
Sprinting Mistake #1: Swoop Kicking
This is one of the sprinting mistakes that the football player I mentioned above was committing. And it’s a common mistake that causes an athlete to short himself in the amount of force he generates while he sprints.
It looks like this:
Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit, but that’s essentially what it is. It’s a big swoop backwards when cycling. And when an athlete does this swooping motion, you’ll notice he’s not really going anywhere because his leg movement is very inefficient and his lower extremities are not in position to produce force.
To fix this, you need to teach the athlete to initiate triple flexion. To learn some drills on how to do this, go to this blog post.
Sprinting Mistake #2: Bending at the Waist
This deadly sprinting sin is one that occurs during the acceleration phase.
When I teach athletes how accelerate, I tell them to keep a forward body angle (pic below). This means that Their shins are angled forward, and they have a slight forward lean.
A lot of athletes try to create this by bending at the waist, and ultimately, rounding the back. This creates an awkward, inefficient, L posture that not only hurts your speed, but looks strange.
Instead, athletes need to keep their torso in line with their hips to push off the ground and build speed.
If you want some drills on how to get better at this, read this post filled with acceleration drills.
Sprinting Mistake #3: Slowing Yourself Down
This one might be the worst.
It’s when an athlete literally slows himself down by extending the knee prematurely and literally pushing himself backwards when he makes contact with the ground.
Not only does this slow down the athlete, but it also puts them at risk for injury through hyperextending the knee.
To correct this, you must teach yourself or your athlete how to get into triple flexion without extending the knee prematurely. For drills that teach this, see this blog post.
When you fix this, you’ll have less ground contact time, more time spent in the air, and of course, you’ll have explosive speed. Something we all want.
Honing in Your Sprinting Mechanics Even More
Fixing the three deadly sprinting sins I listed above is a good start to getting great sprinting mechanics. However, sometimes these fixes aren’t possible.
Some athletes have a tendency towards bad mechanics because certain muscles are locked up. Sometimes it’s the hips, hamstrings, or even the upper back.
For a full guide on how to unlock these muscles,
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