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100m Coaching Information - Sprints Squad Synopsis - Bill Walker, 14/03/10

The Sprint events comprise of the 100m /200m and 400m with the addition of the 4 x100 and 4 x 400m Relays. The Ancient Olympic Games in Greece were started in 776BC and lasted until 393AD. Running events were included ; The Stade which was run on the straight (approx. 92m, The Stadion was one lap approx 192m and the Diaulos which was two laps, approx 381m. In addition, the Diaulos was also run with competitors wearing full bronze armour. Later athletes had to run naked as women were not allowed to compete, and previously a woman, dressed as a male, had entered an event. There was a revival of a modern Olympics in 1859, but it was not until 1896 that a formal Olympic Games was set up. Electronic Timing was introduced at the Stockholm Games in 1912.

The Sprint Events

A factor that affects a sprinter's performance is climatic conditions. A head wind, for example, is often disadvantageous to a racer due to increased air resistance, while a tail wind of equal speed will improve a sprinter's performance. This is why a tail wind restriction of a maximum of 2.0 m / second was implemented, in order for performances to fall within legal records.

To achieve a good performance, in the short sprint event (60 / 100m) the athlete must produce a smooth, relaxed start when the gun is fired. It is not important to clear the blocks first (which some styles of starts provide) but to achieve a smooth acceleration curve. Blasting out of the “blocks” often results in a slowing down over the final part of the race. The start will cover the first 30 - 40m of the race for young or club level athletes, whilst elite athletes will continue to accelerate up to at least 60m. The athlete stays “low” for the first 10 to 15 metres, keeping the head in line with the spine, then gradually attains a tall upright position, focusing on the Finish Line. The athlete should NOT listen for the gun, but react to it. Training must include acceleration runs over 20 – 30m.

The sprint requires an efficient running action, which is often impeded by the athlete’s lack of shoulder and hip mobility. The lack of mobility restricts the range of movement and hence the overall performance.

Athletes often slow down, at the finish of their training runs, and this makes “perfect bad practice” which often shows up in the actual race. Hence some of the distorted images shown on the Photo Finish pictures. Sprinters require to have strong “abdom” muscles to assist in maintaining their running action, this can be achieved by including “circuit sessions” into the programme. Core Stability exercises are also a MUST for the successful sprinter.

It is beneficial to train with other “fast sprinters”, but the alternative is to run 30 – 60m training sprints using a handicap system which allows all athletes to cross the finish line together. This is also beneficial in ensuring that the athlete runs well past the finish line. Stopping too early is often the reason for athlete’s getting hamstring injuries. It is important to remember that SPEED is the important factor in the 100m (you will never be too fast and a balanced training programme which includes adequate rest from specific sessions. Rest allows the body’s systems to adapt.


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