Nov 9, 2017
Straight Ahead to 60

The 60-yard sprint is a great way to measure speed and assess running mechanics. Longer than most typical sprints, it challenges athletes in different ways and will help you identify where their running needs to improve. The following tips from Nick Brattain in a blog for the International Youth Conditioning Association, outline how to get the most out of this exercise.

Front Side Mechanics

Many athletes lack proper front side mechanics when they get into an upright running position. Front side mechanics refers to the movements that occur in front of the body during running, which includes the knee driving up and down, as well as the arm swinging in front of the body. More time is spent in the upright position during the 60-yard sprint compared with other shorter sprints. Therefore, coaches need to take time during training to help athletes perfect these important mechanics.

“As the athlete transitions from the acceleration phase into the upright position there is a lot of room for error,” writes Brattain, a former All-American track athlete and current owner of Brattain Sports Performance. “The body, from shoulder to hip, should move as one unit from the forward, acceleration posture into more of an upright position. There should be very little to no flexion or extension within the spine through this transition.”

Poor transition into the upright position can result in improper balance and tilt in the hips. This can limit the knee’s ability to drive and reposition, which will in turn limit the amount of force an athlete can exert with each stride. Athletes should also avoid rotating their hips from side to side as they plant each foot. This will put excessive force and stress on the hips and lower spine.

Supportive Strength

Athletes will need to build the necessary strength in order to maximize their linear sprinting ability. Some athletes are more agility based and will have a tougher time sprinting in a straight line for 60 yards. Consider the sport and position of each athlete, and identify the muscles they will need to strengthen in order to improve their running mechanics. If they have muscular weaknesses, their sprinting will suffer.

“These muscular weaknesses manifest themselves in improper movement patterns such as lack of extension at the hip, knee, or ankle, internal or external rotation at the hip following toe off, or rotation in the hips as the approach foot contacts the ground,” writes Brittain. “Each of these issues can be addressed and resolved with proper strength and technical training.”

Speed Endurance

Especially with a longer run like the 60-yard sprint, many athletes lack the endurance to finish the sprint strong or do multiple reps. Sprint endurance refers to an athlete’s ability to reach maximum velocity and maintain it for a set period of time before decelerating. Ideally, athletes will be able to maintain maximum velocity until the end of the sprint and then continue to do this for multiple reps. But it usually takes some work to get there.

Improving speed endurance doesn’t require running long distances. On the contrary, athletes should focus on running distances less than 30 meters at maximum speed. To train for the 60-yard sprint, have athletes run 20-40 yards through 4-10 reps. Also consider having them do reps while holding a PVC pipe over head to promote proper posture and front side mechanics. With the right training, your athletes will be able to run faster and maintain max speed for longer.

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