stride length sprinters

Last Updated on April 16, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

Shoulder Rotation: The Secret to Longer Stride length sprinters, Faster Running

By Adarian Barr

In 2009, I wrote about Arm Action in Sprinting on how you can gain a full meter with the same number of strides by proper shoulder rotation and hip rotation.

This article is guest blogged by two authors: movement specialist and Track and Field coach Adarian Barr of Next Level Athletics and Fitness, and Alysson Bodenbach, a 5th-year senior 400m runner at Michigan State, majoring in Kinesiology.

Adarian Barr’s other contributing article was Staying Low on a 40-Yard Dash or 100 Meter Start and Lolo Jones & Justin Gatlin: The Jamaican Toe Drag Revisited.


Shoulder Rotation for Longer Stride Length, Faster Times

Coaches and runners alike have been engaged in a heated discussion concerning core stability regarding shoulder rotation, particularly during this Olympic season. Coaches will argue about whether or not core stability is a direct cause of shoulder rotation for years to come. Unfortunately, scientists aren’t always the best source of knowledge for our queries.

Scientists once claimed it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes and that running the 100-meter dash quicker than 9.69 seconds was also impossible.
The world’s athletes, however, have been shattering barriers left and right and disproving scientists.

When it comes down to running fast, the preference for a longer stride length or faster turnover is often questioned. For example, if we take Usain Bolt, you will notice that his stride length is predominantly longer than the average sprinter. 

Of course, he is tall, which is to his advantage; however, stride length genuinely gives him the edge over his competitors. He can cover the same amount of ground (100m) with fewer strides than his competitors. Now, frequency plays a role, but nothing is more significant than his stride length.

So, how does one go about achieving a longer stride length?

And can see the perfect examples in slower races such as the 800, where and can easily scrutinize body position and rotation.

Not every runner will practice this technique. However, in elite runners such as Alysia Montano (800m), her shoulder rotation is most definitely visible.

Some will contend that her lack of core stability is what causes her shoulders to rotate so much.

But when she runs a personal best of 1:57.34, it is difficult to say that she has core instability.

Not only 800m runners use shoulder rotation as a means of forwarding motion. You would observe the same result if we slowed down the 200-meter sprint. Hip rotation, which is strongly connected with speed, works in direct relation to shoulder rotation.

Either you may use the torque intended to increase the power generated by your glutes, or you can let your arms swing back and forth to counteract the torque your glutes produce.
We don’t want our arms to operate as a counterbalance against our hips, even though they can serve that purpose.


Ultimate Goal

Our ultimate goal while talking about the alternate option of pumping the arms back and forth is to improve stride frequency. Speed cannot be increased solely by increasing stride frequency.
But if shoulder rotation is added in the right quantity, speed is likely to rise.

For example, Allyson Felix is an excellent 200m runner but struggles in the 100m. Her problem relies on the fact that her stride length is too long for 100m. But for that same reason, her stride length is perfect for the 200m. Finding the ideal balance is the key to any race.

Running greats like Bolt and Montano have inexorably mastered the use of shoulder rotation, surpassing any scientific understanding. They have dismantled boundaries and received recognition for them. Of course, shoulder rotation is not a panacea for all speed issues. However, if done correctly, this small modification to a runner’s form can have a significant impact.


Olympic Sprinters: Why Should I Toe Drag?

Today’s Sunday Article is Guest Blogged by Coach Adarian Barr and Mrs. Alysson Bodenbach.

Written by Adarian Barr and Alysson Bodenbach

For more info, contact [email protected] or

Toe Drag
Coach Barr demonstrating the toe-drag start (Photo Credits: NLAAF)


Toe drag out of a block start is becoming more and more common amongst elite sprinters.

Examples include

  1. Usain Bolt on the second step.
  2. Justin Gatlin on the first two steps.
  3. Asafa Powell on the first two steps
  4. Lolo Jones has recently switched from a drag on the 3rd step to the first two steps.


As sprinter develops, they are taught to drive out of the blocks with both legs. But maybe we should be taking a note or two from the block start of a swimmer. At the same time, swimmers drive off of one leg and never bring a knee through.

This implies that once they have enough explosive force on one leg, the second leg is no longer necessary.

In contrast to sprinters, who bring one knee through. Swimmers use one leg to propel their body forwards while leaving the other leg hanging behind them. But when it comes to sprinters, the toe drag can help a runner just as much as a swimmer’s start can help them.

Additionally, if you drive with one leg and leave the other behind, you’ll produce the same explosion that swimmers have mastered. As a result, the drag generates great power and explosion as the glutes contract over a longer time, enabling the sprinter to apply the most force possible.

The hips are likewise driven down the track when the toe is dragged, creating a pattern that maximizes horizontal velocity.


toe drag start vs. no toe drag start


Another bonus of the drag is that your feet stay low to the ground creating less braking action.

The athlete can stay low since they don’t have to lift their torso to bring the rear leg through because their hips are driving horizontally and their feet are still close to the ground; as a result, the toe drag begins to benefit the athlete.

Additionally, as the shoulders become involved in producing torque, the athlete must switch their arms swing from a back and forth to a side-to-side motion.

While the capacity to generate more spectacular top-end speed is said to be the most important advantage of dragging the toe after witnessing some of the best sprinters in the world perform the toe drag.

Adarian Barr, a movement specialist, trainer, and track and field coach at Next Level Athletics and Fitness, has been successfully teaching his players how to sprint from the blocks while dragging their toes, as is generally agreed upon.

Additionally, Adarian Barr of Next Level Athletics and Fitness, a movement specialist, trainer, and track and field coach, has been successfully teaching his athletes how to sprint start.


Sports Exercise Articles – What Sprinters Must Know About Elastic Strength

Motor Skills Motor Skills Elastic Strength

By Kim Goss

There are seemingly countless athletic qualities that enable sprinters to run fast, but one that is often not considered is the contribution of elastic strength.

Before getting into what elastic strength is, what it can do to help sprinters run faster, and how to improve it, let’s break down three essential components of sprinting: stride frequency, stride length, and ground contact time.

Sports Exercise Articles – Stride Frequency

Stride frequency refers to how quickly an athlete changes their ground support from one foot to the other. Ben Tabachnik, Ph.D., is the Russian sprint coach who popularized parachutes for sprint training in the U.S. In the book, he co-authored with Rick Brunner, Soviet Training and Recovery Methods, Tabachnik says that the most critical time to develop speed and quickness is between 8 and 13. Neurologist Harold L. Klawans, M.D., would agree with him.

The most crucial time to develop speed and quickness is between the ages of 8 and 13. CLICK TO TWEET. In his book, Why Michael Couldn’t Hit, Klawans said that to master athletic activities with ahigh-skilll component and performed those activities while the brain is maturing.

Regarding his book title, Klawans explained that because Michael Jordan didn’t focus on baseball during his early years, he could not achieve a high level of skill (at least, compared to basketball) when he took up the sport professionally in 1994.


Citing research on violinists, Klawans said scientists “…found that those fiddlers who started playing early in life (age thirteen or younger) activated larger and more complex circuits in their brains than those who started learning to play their instrument later in life.

Those who hadn’t started by thirteen never caught up. The circuits they activated were smaller, less complex, and more restricted. The time frame during which their brains could be guided to select those circuits had come and gone and left them forever without that ability.”


The lesson here is that if parents want their kids to run fast, they should encourage them to participate in sports that require them to sprint at an early age.


10 Secrets on How to Run Faster


How to Dramatically Improve your running speed

By Mike Toal


How to Improve Your Speed

This article gives an overview of the essential techniques required to enable an athlete to run faster.

To increase any athlete, speed means improving on one or both of the following elements:

1. Increase the number of steps an athlete takes per second, i.e., their cadence.

2. Improve the effectiveness of each time they make contact with the ground.

Increasing cadence is most easily improved by reducing the amount of recovery time between strides. This means reducing the time it takes to get the foot off the ground and back on the floor.

Often athletes compensate for their lack of knee lift by eithoverstridinging (taking larger steps beyond their center of gravity) or pushing out more behind them in an attempt to increase their power and, therefore, stride length.


The problems with these techniques are as follows:

  1. It increases the recovery time, which results in a lower stride rate.
  2. Increases the load on the hamstrings (increasing the injury risk)
  3. Decreases knee lift as the hips sink low to enable a long recovery time. This results in less powerful foot contact.

Now we’ve identified the problem – how do we fix it? Ultimately, how do I run quicker?

This can be identified by improving seven areas.

Read the Full Article Here

Using a Weighted Sled for Acceleration Improvement

By Mike Boyle, MS, ATC

Before even beginning, let’s clear up one point.

How speed is created?”

Sport is about acceleration, not speed.

We have a problem with sports.

Coaches consistently use the wrong term when discussing the quantity they covet most.

Tests like the ten, twenty, and forty-yard dash are tests of acceleration, not speed. You only need to look at world-class sprinters to realize that top speed is not even achieved until approximately 60 meters.

As coaches, our interest is not in top speed but, instead, in acceleration, the zero to sixty of the auto world.

How rapidly an athlete accelerates will determine team sports success, not the athlete’s absolute speed. running sled (Photo credit: bionic teaching)


Down Hill Sprinting Training

Downhill Sprinting

By Aaron Thigpen

(video by Adarian Barr)

Downhill sprinting is a form of assistance or “over-speed training.” And they were forcing an athlete to move their legs faster than they could typically generate. However, I don’t have novice athletes running downhill. Therefore, reserving it for elite caliber athletes who have a full mastery of their sprinting mechanics.

Here are my reasons: 

While the athletes gain greater than normal speed as they run down a hill, you will see the following improper running mechanics.

  • Landing on their heels 
  • Jamming the toes into the ground (braking) 
  •  Leaning or pulling the shoulders backward 
  • Getting arms & legs out of sync 
  •  Short choppy strides or flicking the feet behind them 
  • Falling forward out of control. 

These are all-natural responses once athletes start to achieve above-normal speeds. And repeated runs like this do nothing but ingrain improper movements and increase the risk of injury to the knees, back, and hamstrings.

Full Article Here





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