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Sprinting Technique Tips?


hey all,
i sprint for football training and general conditioning, but lately I've been trying to really get faster, cut my 40 down below 4.8 ( i weigh 225, play linebacker ). but i find that when i go all out my heels hit my butt every step in the late half of the sprint. is this slowing me down? i feel like i could even it out a bit and end up shaving some time off. any ideas?


Sprinting is extremely hard to coach, is there any good strength/speed coaches in your area that you could work with?

If not, I suppose the least you could do is post a video.
Without one, you're not going to be able to get any real advice..


i only have access to a camera phone, so i guess ill try to sneak my way into some preseason track training at the U, might stick out a bit though lol.


Here are a few tips:

Don't over analyse your technique. Good technique is usualy the result of being strong in the right areas and being lean. The focus on all technique must be on your arms, forget COMPLETELY about what your legs are doing. Focus on driving your arms down & back while staying relaxed.

The number one secret to greater sprinting speed is relaxation. Your face should look like your about to fall asleep throughout the sprint. This can take many months to master.

Increase the amount of ab work in your training. Your heels are kicking up towards your butt because your core is exhausted, causing your pelvis to tilt forward.

Good luck with your training.


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Thanks for the feed back guys. Any technique i know is what I've picked up from watching/ hearing other people be coached, so any tips you can provide are appreciated.


While forgetting about your legs and feet during the sprint is advisable. You can do certain drills that concentrate on them to increase the firing speed of your muscle fibers for a short period of time before your 40 yard time trail. Do about 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 yards where you take really short fast steps (it will kinda look like your doing half you normal height for high knees while really pumping fast) where you focus on hitting the ball of your foot directly underneath you and dragging your planted foot backwards over the ground with your hamstring deliberately pulling you forward.

Make sure to use your arms in a regular motion when you do this. He said it is to get the muscles used to firing right away when you hit the ground before your time trail or beginning of practice. You may get some weird looks doing this but I learned this from a professional track and speed camp coach. It subtracted .2 seconds off of my forty the first time I tried it.

Another tip to promote complete relaxation in your upper body is when you are practicing hold 2 saltines, one in each hand in between your thumb and your index and forefinger. You cannot break the saltines or else you are wasting energy gripping your wrists and fingers too tight. Remember complete relaxation of anything besides pumping your arms up and down parallel to each other and you feet.

Your fingers should look like two rings while the wrists stay completely relaxed. Make sure you arms are bent at 90 degrees and do not swing side to side at all since it will waste energy as well

Another great idea is prior to running to hyperventilate like a diver to super saturated you lungs and blood stream with oxygen. Breathe deeply in and out through pursed lips with you chest held up high and hands placed on your upper thighs. During this time, use your imagination and visualize the air saturating your lungs with oxygen.

Finally, when you take a video of yourself make sure you are planting your foot directly below you center of gravity when running. Too far ahead and your are essentially applying the brakes a little on every step and too far behind and you aren't getting full power out of your stroke

Edited: "It added .2 seconds onto my forty the first time I tried it." into what is says now. Brain fart


I'm an all-american collegiate sprinter, this is one of the topics I feel like I'm actually knowledgable in.

Everything the guy above said is accurate. Not really sure about the breathing thing, I've only ever heard it used for longer-distance races, you don't even need to breath in a 40, most people can hold their breath for 4+ seconds.

When working with the form, make sure your head doesn't move side to side at all, that's just more wasted motion and energy. Same goes for the arms and torso, if your arms are moving side to side, that will twist your torso.

When you say your heels kick your butt, you want to work on your knee drive, A-skips can help develop the proper mechanics ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57I4-QXCtRA ) and dorsi-flex your toes to remain more explosive.

Send me a message if you want anymore advice


Where in Ontario are you? I train at the Track and Field Centre at York University and there are tons of sprinters there.

Ben Johnson stopped by last week and a lot of helpful coaches there to get tips from and athletes you can watch and learn from as well.


You know what, your best bet is to read everything by Charlie Francis.


You should definitely breathe during a forty..


I was referring to hyperventilating in between your practice sprints so you recover quicker and can get onto you next sprint. More work in less time is the idea when you talking about sprinting so your workouts should echo that. Short and as sweet as can be. Not necessarily before your 40 but now that I think of it, it wouldn't hurt to use visualization before you take your time trail. I always liked to picture myself shooting off the line like a had a huge rubberband behind me wrapped around my lower back connected to two posts at the finish line. Another good idea is to foam roll when you done if you don't already.


Make sure you are falling forward correctly. To begin the sprint if you aren't using a sprinting block, allow yourself to "fall forward" until you feel as if you are about to lose your balance and face plant on the ground in front of you, before that happens you break into the sprint. Uphill sprinting also seems to increase the stride and a lot of people tend to naturally fall into the proper sprinting stance. Also even running in sand and trying to bring your knees up as high as possible can help form.