Sprinting is the art of running as fast as possible. Power and coordination are the essential ingredients in the production of speed. Coordination can be improved through practicing good running mechanics. Speed is mostly an inherent factor where both coordination and speed can be improved through proper training. Sprinting can be broken down into four phases which is the start, acceleration, maintaining momentum and the finish.
However the two main components that increase speed are stride length and stride frequency. The sprint start is a motor skill which refers to a motor skill as an action or a task that has a goal and that requires voluntary body and limb movement to achieve the goal. Specifically, the sprint start could be categorized as a gross, continuous, closed motor skill. It’s a gross skill because it involves large musculature and the precision of movement is not as important to the successful execution of the skill as it is for fine motor skills. It is considered continuous because the performer determines the beginning and end points of the skill and they are not specified by the skill itself. On the open-closed continuum the sprint start is closer to the closed anchor point than the open, since it takes place under fixed, unchanging, environmental conditions (Magill, 1993).
A starter gives three commands to start a sprint race. These are "On your marks"; "Set" and then "Go" or else a gun are fired. When the athlete hears the initial command, "On your marks", he/she moves forward and adopts a position with the hands shoulder width apart and just behind the starting line. The feet are in contact with the starting blocks and the knee of the rear leg is in contact with the track. On hearing the command "Set" the athlete raises the knee of the rear leg off the ground and thereby elevates the hips and shifts the centre of gravity up and out. Then on the command "Go" or when the gun is fired the athlete reacts by lifting the hands from the track, swinging the arms vigorously and driving with both legs off the blocks and into the first running strides.
Biomechanics of Sprinting- Block Start
The start requires the body to overcome inertia, thereby initiating movement. Three basic laws of physics explain how the body can initiate movement. Newton's first law states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless some force induces a change in the resting state. The start stage requires a combination of explosive muscle contractions which leads to a production of great force. Newton's second law states that the production of force is a combination of the athlete's body mass and acceleration. Once the force into the blocks has been created, the blocks produce a subsequent reaction, which propels the body forward from the starting blocks. This occurs due to the premise of Newton's third law - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
When setting the starting block, a simple approach is to place the knee of the rear leg opposite the instep of the front foot and then to move forward with the hands until the body weight is directly over the hands and the arms are vertical. The ideal angles of the legs in the "set" position in a sprint start using starting blocks are:
• Leading knee angle - 90 degrees
• Rear knee angle - 120 degrees
The following measurements, with the athlete in the "set" position, will be required:
• AL (Arm Length) - vertical distance from the midpoint of the shoulder to the ground
• BL (Back length) - distance from the midpoint of the shoulder to the midpoint of the hip
• ULL (Upper leg length) - distance from the midpoint of the hip to the midpoint of the knee
• LLL (Lower leg length) - distance from the midpoint of the knee to the bottom of the shoe
• FL (Foot length) - distance from the midpoint of the ankle to the point of contact with the toes to the ground
In order to clear the starting blocks on the command "Go" the athlete must produce a force over a certain time period. The product of this force (F) and the time (t) is known as the impulse of the force.
Impulse = F x t
A useful relationship, impulse-momentum relationship, can be obtained by substitution as follows:
F = ma. m = mass a = average acceleration
However, a = (vf - vi)/t.....vf = final velocity.....vi = initial velocity
Therefore, F = m(vf - vi)/t Or, F = (mvf -mvi)/t
Hence, Ft = mvf - mvi
This equation states that the impulse of the force is equal to the change in momentum that it produces. When an athlete is in the starting blocks his/her initial momentum is zero (mvi = 0). In addition, the mass of the athlete is constant and because of this the velocity of the athlete on leaving the blocks is directly proportional to the magnitude of the impulse exerted on the blocks but opposite in direction. The greater the impulse exerted the greater the velocity of the athlete. As exerting a high force for a long period of time produces speed from the crouch start Warden (1986).
Movement of 100m sprinter (block start) and muscles involved
Phase 1-"On Your Mark"
Kneel. Place feet correctly located in the blocks and place feet firmly against pedals so toes barely touch ground, with the power foot in the front pedal. Heels are off the pedals and the toes are curled under and touching the track. Rear-leg knee is resting on the ground. Place hands shoulder-width apart behind start line. Place fingertips down, thumbs pointing in toward each other, creating an arch between the index fingers and thumb, parallel to the start line. Roll body forward slightly, shoulders back and vertically above or slightly forward of the hands keeping arms straight and rigid but not locked at the elbows .Distribute weight evenly over hands and back knee. Hold and neck up in line with spine. The muscles involved are (anterior and lateral) deltoid, sternocledomastoid, erector spinae, biceps brachii, brachioradialis, pectoralis major, gluteus maximums, bicep femoris, vastus lateralis, gastrocnemius, and soleus. Figure 1.2: On your mark
From "on your mark" position, lift hips from ground slightly higher than shoulders, front knee bent approximately 90 degrees, rear knee bent 110 degrees to 120 degrees. Keep arms straight, but not locked. Shoulders vertically above or slightly forward of the hands and Feet pushed hard back into the blocks. Distribute weight evenly over hands. Focus down the track. Back and head form a straight line. Concentrate on reacting to sound of gun or start command - driving out of blocks. Hold the breath. Muscles involved are (anterior, posterior and lateral) deltoid, brachioradialis, sternocledomastoid, lattisimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps brachii, pectoralis major, gluteus maximums, quadriceps, hamstring, rectus abdominis, gastrocnemius, and soleus.
Exhale, drive the arms hard and drive the back leg forward into a high knee action. Extend the whole body so there is a straight line through the head, spine and extended rear leg (body approx. 45 to 60 degree angle to the ground) Keeping low, relaxed and drive out of the blocks - do not step or jump out of the blocks. Muscles involved are (anterior, posterior and lateral) deltoid, teres minor and major, scapularis, brachioradialis, sternocledomastoid, lattisimus dorsi, erector spinae, biceps brachii, triceps, pectoralis major, rectus abdominis, external obliques, gluteus maximums, Quadriceps, hamstring, gastrocnemius, and soleus.
Injury during 100m block start
- Hamstring injury/sprain/tear
- Quadriceps injury/sprain/tear
- Achilles tendonitis/rupture
- Patellar tendon rupture
- Ankle sprain
- TFCC tear (Triangular Fibro Cartilage Complex)
- LBP (Lower Back pain)
Energy system used
The energy system used by a 100m sprinter is the ATP-PC system or the Phosphagens system (anaerobic) where the intensity of the activity is high and short duration without the usage of oxygen. In this system, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is hydrolyze to make ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and energy. The enzyme that is use in hydrolyze process is myosin ATPase.
ATP Myosin ATPase ADP + Pi + Energy
On the other hand, the enzyme called Creatine Kinase will synthesis ATP and creatine from ADP and PC (Creatine Phosphate).
ADP + PC Creatine Kinase ATP + Creatine
Since the storage of PC in the muscle is small, thus the total amounts of ATP that can be produced are limited therefore only lasting for a few seconds.
100m sprint is a sport event well known for its superb speed, strength, agility and power. Researchers have shown that resistance training is a method that is needed and important to enhance performance. By undergoing resistance training, the benefits are:
- Increase the force for the starting kick-off.
- Increase the speed of out of the block.
- Increase power of acceleration and take-off.
- Increase muscular balance for the antagonist muscle group.
- Increase reaction time and coordination.
- Increase speed muscular endurance.
- Increase the stabilization of the joints.
- Increase lean body mass.
- Increase self-confidence.
- Reduces injury.
- Rapid recovery from injury
Periodization was first introduced by Russian scientist Tudor Bompa (1960) who is considered to be the father of periodization. What he suggests is to have different training regimes throughout a whole year by changing training variables such as Frequency, Duration, Volume and Intensity. This is to allow adequate recovery periods for a larger, more positive outcome of physical training which may also effect athletes psychologically. An example is as shown below.
How long? Frequency Duration Intensity Volume
Prep 4-8 weeks High Short-Medium Very little Low
Base 12-24 weeks High Medium- High Moderate Moderate to High
Build 4-8 weeks Moderate-High High Heavy Moderate
Peak/Race 3-5 weeks Moderate Short Heavy Low
This program is designed following the training example of the national 100m sprinter before pre-competition phase during specific preparation phase. In this Phase, the needs analysis for the 100m sprinter is to increase mainly strength and fair amount of speed, power and agility. Therefore, the exercise focuses on all major and minor muscle must be trained. Example;
Age : 21 years and above.
Gender : Male
Sport : Athletics 100m Sprint.
Skill : Block Start.
Phase : Specific preparation phase (SPP) before pre-competition.
Objective : i. Increase specific muscular strength in the athlete.
ii. Increase specific power in the athlete.
iii. Increase the speed and agility of the athlete.
Assumption : The athletes have gone through vigorous strength and conditioning training at general preparation phase (GPP)
Frequency : 2 times per week
Training : Day 1 (3 sets, 4-6 repetitions- rest period 3-4 minutes,
explosive +ve, control –ve tempo or speed)
Exercise Sets Reps Load (%)
Chest Press (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Latt Pulldown (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Lateral Shoulder raise (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Rear Shoulder raise/Rear Fly (Dumbbell) 3 4-6 80-85
Shoulder press (Dumbbell) 3 4-6 80-85
Biceps Curl (Dumbbell) 3 4-6 80-85
Triceps Extension (Dumbbell) 3 4-6 80-85
Upright row (Dumbbell) 3 4-6 80-85
V Abdominal crunch 2 20 Depending on athlete
V Back extension 2 20 Depending on athlete
Cross Crunch (Swiss ball) 2 20 Depending on athlete
Training -Day 5 (3sets, 4-6 repetition- rest period 2-4 minutes, explosive
Execution and control relaxation tempo or speed.
Exercise Sets Reps Load (%) of 1 RM
Power Cleans 3 8-10 70-75
Deadlift 3 8-10 70-75
Squats (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Hamstring curl (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Leg extension (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Calf Press (Machine) 2 20 Depending on athlete
Reverse Calf Press (Dumbbell) 2 20 Depending on athlete
Abductor (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Adductor (Machine) 3 4-6 80-85
Abdominal crunch (Machine) 2 20 Depending on athlete
Back extension (Machine) 2 20 Depending on athlete
• Core exercise
- V crunch ( Hip Flexors, Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis)
- V Back extension ( Hip Extensors, Erector Spinae, Transverse Abdominis)
- Abdominal Crunch ( Rectus Abdominis, Sternocleidomastoid)
- Back extension ( Erector Spinae, Transverse Abdominis)
- Cross crunch ( Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Internal & External Obliques)
• Chest exercises (Pectorialis Major & Minor, Triceps, Deltoids)
- Bench Press
• Shoulder exercises
- Posterior Shoulder raise/Rear Fly (Posterior Deltoids, Rhomboids Transverse Abdominis)
- Lateral Shoulder raise (Medial Deltoids)
• Arm exercises
- Biceps curl (Biceps Brachii)
- Triceps extension (Triceps Brachii, Rotator Cuff as stabilizers)
• Back exercise
- Latt Pulldown (Lattisimus Dorsi, Posterior Deltoids, Biceps Brachii)
- Upright row (Deltoids, Bicep Brachii, Transverse Abdominis)
- Back extension (Erector Spinae)
• Leg exercise
- Squats (Gluteus Maximus & Medius, Hamstrings, Quadriceps)
- Leg extension (Quadriceps, Hip Flexors)
- Hamstring curl (Hamstring, Gastrocnemius)
- Calf press ( Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Plantaris, Extensor Digitorum Longus, Extensor Hallucis Longus)
- Reverse calf press (Tibialis Anterior, Flexor Digitorum Longus, Flexor Hallucis, Fibularis Tertius/Peroneus)
- Adductor (Adductor – Magnus, Longus, Brevis, Gracilis-, Pectenius)
- Abductor (Piriformis, Gluteus – maximus, medius, minimus-, Tensor Facia Latae)
- Dead Lift (Hamstrings, Erector Spinae, Transverse Abdominis)
- Power Cleans (for development of total body explosive strength and power)
In conclusion, weight training program for 100m sprinter can help increase performance in training by preparing the muscle for intense 100m training and in competition where it can be a great advantage on the starting block where it is said to be the determining factor of winning or losing.
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