Today’s post is brought to us by Superior Athletics interns Kayla Koelbel and Steven Suozzi. They both are from SUNY Cortland, in upstate New York and are 6 weeks into their current internship.
In our warm-up, we incorporate band work to strengthen the hip flexors and the legs. This helps with activating the muscles necessary for sprinting and other explosive movements such as jumping.
From the band work, we move on to wall drills, which help to create the proper form used for sprinting. The wall drill focuses on the basic mechanics used in running, including keeping the chest up, core tight, leaning from the ankles instead of the hips, keeping the ankles dorsiflexed, and the knee around a 90 degree angle.
You can add more of a challenge to the drill by calling out which leg to switch or calling to switch twice. By increasing the speed and variability of the switches, it will get the athlete prepared for sprinting at higher speeds and coping with the unpredictability of their respective sport.
The importance of the wall drill is to ensure that the athlete is driving in line from the toes, to the knees, to the hips to prevent injury while creating maximum force.
Marching is the next progression from the wall drill. As the athlete no longer has the wall to help create the force and angle required, marching is the next step towards sprinting. We first have the athletes march in place to ensure that their mechanics are proper before allowing them to take the next step and march forward.
Some reminders for marching:
Make sure that you maintain your lean and the force that is being exerted on the ground to move forward.
Keep your foot dorsiflexed, chest straight, and core tight.
Once you have control over your movements, then you can begin marching forward.
Skipping in Place and Skipping Forward
Skipping in place will follow marching. This will help athletes to add more force to the marching mechanics. We still avoid using the arms at this stage for beginning running mechanics to focus on the lower body mechanics. Later, we will add the arms in, using opposite arm with opposite leg to promote proper sequencing of the arms and legs. The purpose of this is to teach athletes to increase their turnover; with increased turnover, athletes will run faster.
By first mastering these techniques, athletes will build the strength necessary to increase their speed and prevent injury in their sport.