Master Your Sprinting Mechanics, Running Form, and Athletic Performance with These Drills
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Here I have NFL superstar DeAngelo Hall working on sprint mechanics and running technique in this tri-phasic sprint drill series. The key here is mastering sprinting form and body mechanics rather than maximizing power output and speed.
Having suffered several season ending lower body injuries over the last few years, the goal with DeAngelo has not only been to rehab his body and get him ready for the upcoming season but to bulletproof his joints and connective tissue by teaching his muscles to produce and absorb force optimally. With this in mind the main techniques we’ve been applying are eccentric isometrics, core stabilization exercises, foot and ankle training, and other neuromuscular re-education drills.
However, it’s also critical that the improved body mechanics, muscle function, motor control, strength, and functional hypertrophy he’s gained through proper strength training be transferred into his actual running and movement mechanics on the field. That’s where the above running drills come into play. Generally speaking, if the strength training protocols are dialed in and performed properly it takes very little effort to get the newfound mechanics to transfer to sport specific movements and field work. In fact they will gradually transfer over regardless of whether field drills are used. However with DeAngelo the goal is to get these transfer effects to occur as quickly as possible so he can apply appropriate mechanics to the on-field and team practices he regularly participates in with the Washington Redskins.
In this particular workout I had DeAngelo Hall perform a tri-phasic or 3-part sprint/running drill to help dial in his stride mechanics.
The first drill is something I call a deconstructed stride march. In this drill DeAngelo is simply performing individual strides focusing on contralateral arm and leg drive (opposite arm activating opposite leg), while performing an isometric position for each stride. This allows him to hone in on his form similar to how eccentric isometrics would be used for strength training purposes. It also promotes foot and ankle stability ultimately impacting his balance and lower body alignment. Also notice the slight forward lean and dorsiflexed foot/ankle position he maintains throughout. Once DeAngelo completed 4-5 isometric strides per side (approximately 5 yards total), I had him perform a similar but more dynamic variation of the previous drill by incorporating a quick skip with each stride as well as continuous motions rather than isometric holds. This also helps promote knee and hip drive which are critical for optimal running and sprinting form.
Once the technique on these two drills was dialed in we transferred the improved mechanics to band-resisted high knee sprints. This further promotes forward lean, acceleration and drive mechanics, glute activation, knee drive, and powerful stride mechanics. In addition band or resisted sprints particularly when performed with the high knee variation are much more joint friendly than traditional sprinting drills. This was another important component when training DeAngelo as he still has mild tenderness during high impact scenarios particularly deceleration situations which this drill essentially eliminates.
After completing several rounds of this 3-part build-up stride series I had DeAngelo perform several light striders (40-50 yard sprints performed at 50% max effort) to further transfer and ingrain the mechanics instilled by the prior drills into his actual running and sprinting form.
Keep in mind DeAngelo is still recovering from an ACL injury and these represent some of the first running and sprinting drills he’s participated in post surgery. While it may look fairly conservative, most athletes would benefit significantly from working on running mechanics and sprinting form in a similar fashion.
For more information on DeAngelo Hall and the training protocols we’ve been using click here.