READY, SET … SPRINT!
Proper technique is critical in sprinting. Tamara Ards, assistant women’s track and field coach at Louisiana State University and former All-American sprinter from the University of Colorado, breaks down proper sprint form:
KEEP YOUR HEAD NEUTRAL
Your eyes should be focused forward and your chin should be level. “I should be able to draw a straight line from the top of your head down through [your body] to the ankles — that’s neutral,” Ards says.
USE YOUR SHOULDERS AND ARMS
Proper technique can help propel you forward. “The elbows should be bent 90 degrees when they’re in front of you, and as they swing down and back, your elbows should open up to about 120 degrees,” Ards explains. Her visual cue: Imagine your hands are two hammers and you’re trying to pound in a nail into the wall behind you.
KEEP YOUR FEET UNDERNEATH YOU
“Put your foot down, don’t [reach it] out,” Ards explains. “You want your foot strike to happen as close to your center of mass as possible — under your hips. If the foot strikes too far in front, it’s like putting on the brakes in a car. Start with your [foot up, not pointed down], accelerate down with the thigh and punch with the ball of the foot.”
OPTIMAL STRIDE LENGTH
Overstriding means reduced power because you’re spending more time on the ground. “From the side, a good stride looks cyclical, almost like you’re riding a bike,” Ards says. Practice while standing still: Lift one leg to hip height, thigh parallel to the floor, ankle dorsiflexed. Pull the big toe toward your shin and cycle your heel around as if pedaling a bike.