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©2020 by Jonathon Reid

  • Jon Reid

Phases of Sprinting: First Step to Max Speed

First Step

Aim: Position body in intended direction of travel and in optimal position for generating horizontal velocity

Technical Considerations

  • Dorsiflexion

  • Positive shin angle

  • Whole body lean

  • Push into the ground

  • Be aggressive


Aim: Generate as much horizontal force and velocity as possible. Get moving forward!

Technical Considerations

  • Dorsiflexion (stiff on landing)

  • Shin angle matches body angle (positive angle)

  • Forceful ground contacts (be aggressive)

  • Ground contact occurs behind centre of mass

  • Aggressive switching of legs with focus on powerful extension

  • Lots of short steps

  • Short air time

  • Low heel recovery


Aim: Continue accelerating whilst transitioning from acceleration to top speed mechanics

Technical Considerations

  • Smooth transition to a more upright posture

  • Thighs and heels transition from piston-like action to cyclical motion

  • Heel recovery height gradually increases

  • Ground contact time decreases

  • Gradual increase in stride length without reduced stride frequency

Top Speed

Aim: Sprint as fast as possible

Technical Considerations

  • Upright posture

  • High knee drive and high heel recovery (step over knee and aggressively drive foot down)

  • Dorsiflexion prior to ground contact (stiff upon landing)

  • Foot contact is more of a hit than a push (lacrosse ball bouncing)

  • Back leg slightly flexed at toe off

  • Shorter ground contact times

  • Movement is ‘bouncier’

  • Optimal stride length and frequency

  • Maintain aggression


Aim: Slow down as quickly as possible

Technical Considerations

  • Lots of short steps

  • Lower the centre of mass

This article is an excerpt from Jon's e-book The Basics of Speed and Acceleration for Team Sport Athletes which you can download for free on the resources page