Fix 3 Common Acceleration Mistakes to Get Faster

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The Wall Drill by itself doesn’t make athletes faster, but it can provide context for doing acceleration work immediately afterwards.

Mistake 2: Poor Posture

Whether accelerating from a low start or block start, many athletes have poor posture in their running. In cases of poor posture, or bent spine, athletes often “feel” like they are running fast, because their legs are turning over rapidly. But in reality, they aren’t covering a tremendous amount of ground, because their bent torso doesn’t allow for very long strides.

I’ve found that a combination of good cues and well-selected strength training can improve an athlete’s posture during acceleration. In terms of cues, athletes should use imagery to picture their spine and torso as a stiff mast or pole. One great cue I learned from sprint coach Ryan Banta is for athletes to imagine that “there is a hole drilled from the top of their head, down through their torso, and a broomstick is placed in that hole, running the length of their body, keeping them tall and upright. When their feet strike the ground, they are powerfully sweeping the track to move forward.” This cue often facilitates faster acceleration, even if athletes don’t feel like they are running fast, simply because their posture is better and their strides are longer.

In terms of strength work, movements that combine a Single-Leg RDL or Good Morning with knee drive and hip extension can be a helpful teaching tool for promoting proper posture in sprint acceleration.

Mistake 3: Foot Recovery is Too High

The final error is foot recovery in the first few steps being much too high. When athletes take their first few steps, the swing foot should be traveling through at the level of the knee or lower. In the image below, the athlete makes the error of a heel recovering higher than the opposite knee.

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