Did you know that when you run, the surface of the track releases energy that can affect your performance? It’s called counter-rotation, and it happens in the drive phase, when you apply force into the ground and the track’s energy pushes back up at you. Counter-rotation can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
According to Cedric Hill, who coaches U.S. 100m sprinter Rodney Martin, “When you’re clearing the block and setting yourself up for the next three steps of the drive phase, there’s going to be a lot of counter-rotation. That’s when you’re applying force into the ground and trying to hold your body in a specific angle. For every step you take, your body wants to come up.
“The track has energy in it,” Hill explains. “If you align yourself properly, you can receive the energy from the track.”
To help Martin establish proper patterns of force application to fight counter-rotation, Hill has him run 30s. “We do 30s because I want Rodney to run 10 meters at a time and get used to covering 10 meters at a time and not rush his race,” Hill says.
• Place three cones on track, each 10 meters apart
• Assume start position 10 meters before first cone
• Sprint into drive phase with head down; use first and second cones as markers to ensure that you are still in drive position through 20 meters
• Slowly transition into upright position by third cone [30-meter mark]
Coaching Points: Do not sprint full speed // Keep core tight // Focus on proper ground force application by locating ground and striking foot underneath center of gravity as fast as possible // Focus on breathing rhythms // Drive phase occurs from waist down, not waist up