By keeping these errors in check through proper cueing or sprint constraints and differential drills, athletes can improve their starting and acceleration ability.
Mistake 1: Improper Foot Placement at Touchdown
A critical difference between acceleration and top speed is the position of the foot in relation to the hip. In top speed, the foot lands just a couple of inches in front of the hip to give a small amount of vertical support to the athlete. If the foot gets too far out in front, braking forces are created.
In acceleration, the projection angle of the trunk provides the vertical support, so the direction of force in footstrike can be largely backwards, and the foot therefore lands behind the body.
Many athletes have a hard time accelerating because they place their feet too far in front of their hips, creating braking forces. When this happens, forward travel is compromised, and athletes often “pop up” early, losing the ability to apply force backwards into the ground. One solution to this is a Wall Drill, where athletes can feel the proper acceleration positions under the support of a wall.