Sprinting Technique Errors and How to Fix Them

Read about 12 common sprinting technique errors, and learn how to correct them to maximize your speed and performance.

Although sprinting may seem like a basic movement, sprinting technique is actually quite complex. Many athletes suffer from poor form, and minor flaws in technique could be keeping you from achieving your maximal speed and performance.

Here are some common sprinting technique errors, causes and corrections you should be aware of to increase your speed.

RELATED: The Sprint Form Checklist

Start and Acceleration Phase

Error  1

Hands too far apart in four-point stance

  • Cause: Misunderstanding of movement
  • Correction: Place arms shoulder-width apart

Error 2

Front leg knee not 90 degrees

  • Cause: Hips too high or too low
  • Correction: Adjust hip height to proper position

Error 3

Excessive weight distributed to arms

  • Cause: Improper weight distribution
  • Correction: Raise hips more upward than forward to straighten arms and evenly distribute your weight

Error 4

Excessive tension in dorsal muscles and neck hyperextension

  • Cause: Misunderstanding of movement
  • Correction: Maintain normal head alignment and keep eyes focused on the ground

Error 5

Jumping your first stride

  • Cause: Push-off angle is too high and your upward thrust is too steep
  • Correction: Increase your forward lean, maintain proper head alignment and accelerate back leg action

Error 6

Premature upright position

  • Cause: Not enough push-off force, and upward thrust too steep
  • Correction: Increase push-off force, maintain forward lean and keep your eyes focused on the ground without lifting your head

Maximum Velocity Phase

Error 7

Not enough leg extension at push-off

  • Cause: Improper power transmission
  • Correction: More ankle joint work in forward movement, running and jumping; incorporate special strengthening exercises

Error 8

Feet turned excessively outward

  • Cause: Poor running form
  • Correction: Practice running in lane; practice walking, then jogging, then slowly running with feet slightly inward

Error 9

"Bouncing" with vertical swaying

  • Cause: Too much vertical push-off
  • Correction: Longer push-off; practice hitting chalk/line markers at regular intervals, starting exercises, and increased stride rate

Error 10

Wide forward swing of lead leg with flat foot plant

  • Cause: Trunk and thigh weakness or fatigue
  • Correction: Drills or training involving high knee lift via hills, sand, ankle weights

Error 11

Poor arm movement (transverse movement, excessive backward swing, hunched shoulders)

  • Cause: Excessive shoulder movement and poor shoulder joint flexibility
  • Correction: Practicing proper movements during easy stride or light jogging, dynamic and static stretching and mobility training

Error 12

Head and neck hyperextension or hyperflexion

  • Cause: Fatigue and misunderstanding of movement
  • Correction: Normal erect head position; eyes focused ahead

Reference:

Baechle, R., Thomas, Earle, W., Roger. (2008). "Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning." National Strength and Conditioning Association. Pg. 468. Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: RUNNING | STRIDE | SWING | JUMPING | FATIGUE