I was on the phone last night with Harvard University sprints/hurdles coach Marc Mangiacotti. He had just returned from his Conference Championship where he got some outstanding results with his sprinters and hurdlers.
His top sprinter won both the 100 and 200 with personal bests. Ultimately, his success came down to finally showing patience during the acceleration phase of both his races. It doesn’t matter how many times we say it, athletes love to be quick out of the blocks instead of powerful out of the blocks.
And quick isn’t fast.
You can’t chase speed. You have to wait for it. I know it sounds counterintuitive. But if athletes feel quick out of the blocks, they’re doing it wrong. When you do it right, it feels slow because it takes longer to go through the full range of motion.
One of the mistakes coaches make when teaching the skill of acceleration is coaching stride length and stride frequency. During acceleration, stride length should get progressively longer. And stride frequency should get progressively faster.
But you shouldn’t coach either of them. They are by products of force application, technique and patience.
If you want to help your sprinters put it together as we approach Championship Season, check out this article on stride length and stride frequency.
If you want to learn how to do it (athletes) and teach it (coaches), we’ll teach it all here:
Register for the 7th Annual Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University on July 15-16, 2017.
Updated on March 27, 2023 by Latif Thomas