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...
Must See
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 20,467,909
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 6,816,610
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 20,732,474

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Views: 1,877
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes
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

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,060,319
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,923
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,916
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,852
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,390

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
3 Biggest Myths About Soccer Speed

3 Biggest Myths About Soccer Speed

How the Cable Machine Can Help You Get Faster

How the Cable Machine Can Help You Get Faster

6 Essential Multi-Directional Speed Drills

6 Essential Multi-Directional Speed Drills

The 5 Elements of a Successful Speed Training Program

The 5 Elements of a Successful Speed Training Program

Increase Your Lacrosse Speed With Multi-Directional Exercises

Increase Your Lacrosse Speed With Multi-Directional Exercises

12-Week Off-Season Baseball Speed Workout

12-Week Off-Season Baseball Speed Workout

Previewing the Fastest Draft Prospects of the 2015 NFL Combine

Previewing the Fastest Draft Prospects of the 2015 NFL Combine

Speed Plyometrics to Help You Run Faster

Speed Plyometrics to Help You Run Faster

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

4 Powerful Band Agility Drills

4 Powerful Band Agility Drills

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

3 Ways to Build Sprint Speed (No Sprinting Required)

Todd Durkin's 5 Drills for Faster Sprints

Todd Durkin's 5 Drills for Faster Sprints

Deceleration: The Missing Link for Hockey Speed Training

Deceleration: The Missing Link for Hockey Speed Training

Run Faster and Longer

Run Faster and Longer

5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

Here's Why Andre Williams' Breakout Performance Was No Fluke

Here's Why Andre Williams' Breakout Performance Was No Fluke

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

4 Speed Training Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

4 Speed Training Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

Linear Speed Drills to Improve Athleticism

Linear Speed Drills to Improve Athleticism

What Is Fast in Soccer?

What Is Fast in Soccer?

Supreme Speed: 6 Training Tips from Football's Fastest Man

Supreme Speed: 6 Training Tips from Football's Fastest Man

Acceleration Drills to Increase Speed

Acceleration Drills to Increase Speed

Lengthen Your Stride for Maximum Speed

Lengthen Your Stride for Maximum Speed

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

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

3 Acceleration Drills for a Faster First Step

3 Acceleration Drills for a Faster First Step

Sprinting Technique Errors and How to Fix Them

Sprinting Technique Errors and How to Fix Them

8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

The Off-Season Baseball Speed and Agility Workout Program

The Off-Season Baseball Speed and Agility Workout Program

Build Sprint Speed Like an Olympian

Build Sprint Speed Like an Olympian

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

3 Simple Steps to Get Quick

3 Simple Steps to Get Quick

How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

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

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

Ditch the Sprints. Here's How to Build True Sports Speed

Ditch the Sprints. Here's How to Build True Sports Speed

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed

The 10 Best Speed Exercises for Athletes

The 10 Best Speed Exercises for Athletes

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

Skipping Drills: The Missing Link From Your Speed Workouts

Skipping Drills: The Missing Link From Your Speed Workouts

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

Improve Your Baseball Speed With This On-Field Workout

Improve Your Baseball Speed With This On-Field Workout

YardBarker