Refine Your Sprinting Mechanics to Run a Faster Race

March 13, 2013 | Brandon Wood

Must See Speed Videos

If you want to get faster, you can't train aimlessly and do random numbers of sprints. To truly increase your speed, you must account for both the physiological and mechanical aspects of running. (See Perfect Running Form Checklist and Tips.)

The physiological aspect includes the amount of force you can put into the ground with each stride and how fast you can turn your leg over. However, if you lack the proper mechanics, you will fail to reach your top speed potential. (See Master Your Running Form.)

The body is a machine designed to move and work in specific patterns to produce effective movements. If you are struggling to get faster despite spending hours in the weight room, it's time to refine your sprinting mechanics.

Sprinting Mechanics 101

Arm Action

Your arm angle should be at about 90 degrees. Remember, a longer lever is a slower lever. Your front hand should be at your chin and your back hand should be at your back pocket during each arm swing. Finally, keep your shoulders relaxed and your hands open to relieve muscle tension.

Foot Strike

When making contact with the ground, keep foot in a toe-up position. This will decrease the amount of time your foot spends on the ground and reduce stress on your bones and joints. You will propel yourself forward faster and reduce the risk of sustaining an overuse injury, like a stress fracture.

Acceleration Phase

The acceleration phase is different from the running technique used when you sprint at top speed, because you are driving your legs backward into the ground instead of pulling yourself forward. It's critical to master this aspect of running so you can get to top speed as quickly as possible.

  • Lean at a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold the lean for eight to 12 yards (slightly shorter or longer depending on your age and athleticism). The faster you rise up, the slower your rate of acceleration will be.
  • Extend your hips to generate power. Think about performing a vertical jump. If you do not extend your hips, you won't jump high.
  • Drive yours knees forward while extending your hips. This will keep you from falling as you lean at a deep forward angle. When your hip is fully flexed, your knee should be under your chest and your foot under your hips.
  • Maintain a positive shin angle (shin pointing forward). As you drive your knee up, your leg should be "tight" so your foot does not release away from your leg, causing you to reach forward and overstride. This causes a braking motion that will slow you down.
Brandon Wood
- Brandon Wood is the Director of Team Training and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J. His drive...
Brandon Wood
- Brandon Wood is the Director of Team Training and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J. His drive...

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,267,361
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 197,143
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Views: 396,957
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,189
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,450,145
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,255
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,916
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,152,827

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

5 Movements You Should Be Doing to Gain Football Speed

Is your body ready to handle this upcoming football season? Are you going to be that guy nobody can catch? The guy who is killing everybody off the line...

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

Soccer Players: Get Quick on the Pitch

Six-Pack for Speed: 5 Core Exercises That Can Make You Faster

Six-Pack for Speed: 5 Core Exercises That Can Make You Faster

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

Why Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

Why Agility Is Critical for Soccer Players

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Developing Soccer-Specific Speed

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

Get Even More Out of Your Hill Sprints With These Variations

King of the Hill: 5 Hill Run Exercises to Supercharge Your Speed

King of the Hill: 5 Hill Run Exercises to Supercharge Your Speed

Get Faster With These Hamstring Exercises

Get Faster With These Hamstring Exercises

Speed Drill of the Day: Get More Explosive with Ankle Hops

Speed Drill of the Day: Get More Explosive with Ankle Hops

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

Resisted Sprints: Use the Right Weight to Get Faster

Increase Your Speed with Horizontal Force Training

Increase Your Speed with Horizontal Force Training

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

3 Acceleration Drills to Get Faster

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Building Sprint Speed for Soccer Players

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

Get Faster with High-Speed Treadmill Training

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

Le'Veon Bell Tweets Some Impressive Off-Season Workouts

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

Fine-Tuning Soccer Sprint Speed

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

Sprinting Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

Increase Your Ankle Mobility to Sprint Faster

NFL RB Zac Stacy Works to Get Faster for the 2015 Season

NFL RB Zac Stacy Works to Get Faster for the 2015 Season

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

NBA All-Star Paul Millsap's Quick Feet Drill

These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

These 5 Drills Will Increase Your Baseball-Specific Speed

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

A Linear Speed Progression for Increasing In-Game Speed

What Is Fast in Soccer?

What Is Fast in Soccer?

YardBarker