Common Problems and Corrections of Sprint Form:
Problem: Upward Emphasis or Not Swinging Arms Back Far Enough.
- Correction: Have the athlete pretend he/she is holding a hammer in each hand and pounding nails into a wall directly behind him/her.
- Main Point: The faster the arm is swung backward, the faster the leg will pull forward.
Problem: Shoulders Shrugged/Upper Back Tension.
- Correction: Have the athlete consciously relax the traps and shoulders to allow more natural movement. Practice in place looking into a mirror.
- Main Point: Upper body needs to stay relaxed. Tension can inhibit the free motion required for optimal speed.
Problem: Side-to-Side Arm Movement.
- Correction: Have the athlete practice in front of a mirror to help him/her understand that this movement is causing excessive trunk rotation. The path in which the arms travel begins with the fingertips even with the chin. The hand should reach the midline of the body, but does not cross. The hand will then travel backwards until it is completely behind the hip.
- Main Point: There should be limited lateral movement, as the focus should be on forward and backward movement emphasizing the backward motion.
Problem: Cross-Over Knee Drive (crossing the knees inward over the midline of the body)
- Correction: Explain to the athlete that the legs travel in one plane of movement, it’s like riding a bike. Working in front of a mirror may be helpful.
- Main Point: Knees need to travel in a straight path.
Problem: Lack of Knee Drive (During Acceleration 10-20 yards)
- Correction: Likely needs to strengthen hip flexors and core. Hip flexors raise the thigh and core stabilizes the pelvis.
- Main Point: Need to forceful knee drive getting hip 70-80 degrees in relation to the body.
Problem: Toes Point Inward or Outward
- Correction: Likely needs to improve ankle flexibility, hip flexor strength. Muscles imbalances in hip internal and external rotation may all need attention.
- Main Point: Toes need to point forward and should be in line with the knee and hip.
Problem: Over-striding (plant foot too far in from of the body)
- Correction: Explain that the athlete needs to keep a tighter knee bend as the knee drives during each swing phase.
- Main Point: During acceleration (first 10-20) yards the foot should strike the ground slightly behind the body. After the first 10-20 yards, the foot will strike slightly in front of the body.
Problem: Under-striding (short, choppy steps)
- Correction: Cue the athlete to increase the distance between their thighs on each stride. Likely needs to improve hip flexor flexibility.
- Main Point: Stride length comes from by pushing off the ground harder and fully extending hip, knee, and ankle and driving the forward knee to high knee position.
Problem: Landing on Heels (many larger athletes have a hard time with this)
- Correction: Make the athletes aware of the issue. Coach athlete on proper foot strike through high knees drills, wall drills, etc.
- Main Point: The heel will almost make contact with the ground, but athletes should be coached to stay on the ball of the foot because no weight should be taken by the heel.
Problem: Ankle Plantar Flexed (pointed down, leads to over-striding)
- Correction: Coach the athlete to pull the toes to the knees. Coach the athlete to barely keep the heel from hitting the ground. Practice with high knees, butt kicks, wall drills.
- Main Point: When foot strikes the ground, the ankle needs to be dorsiflexed (pointed up) in order to deliver a high force into the ground.