Wind Assistance: How Much do tail winds help sprinters?

Wind Assistance: How Much do tailwinds help sprinters?

Discussing Wind aid for short sprints and horizontal jumps. This article won’t tackle excessive wind assistance for hurdles because that’s a stride and step pattern issue.

+2.1 on the race results nullifies any record attempts (or achieving standards).

You’ve viewed World Records +2.0. Race planners want world records so badly.

Does wind help? Like altitude, it can hurt you (more coming up). Crosswind? Can a +3.0 crosswind that reads +1.9 help? The 200m wind gauge only records the last 10 seconds after the first runner enters the straightaway.

Amazing wind aid

PBs in +3.0 or +4.0 tailwinds are excellent because YOUR BODY ran that time. Muscle and neural memory store it. Now repeat after a 10-day taper. And altitude.

You need good sprint mechanics. Because you’re covering more ground with the same stride frequency, you’re overstriding. Each stride is longer with the wind.

The braking effect is explained in my post on overspeed training. Overspeed training can be done with bungee cords or wind tunnels, but I like a mild slope of 1 or 2 degrees on the grass with long spikes. Bobsledders and Skeleton athletes practice this on the hill.


How Wind Assistance is Recorded

Download the official handbook from the Track and Field Rules article. The Starter’s gun smoke’s wind speed is used to:

  • 10 second 100m
  • 13-second 100mH and 100mH
  • In the 200m, wind speed is measured for 10 seconds when the first athlete enters the straightaway.

5 seconds is utilized for 40m in the Long Jump and 35m in the Triple Jump. If an athlete runs less than 40m or 35m, wind speed is measured from the approach run.

Vectors rule sprinting. The diagram illustrates a 45-degree tail-cross wind.

First, read How to Race the 200m for race strategy.

Even with a +3.0 breeze, the first 50m are headwind (Lane 1 gets it worse than Lane 8 or 9). Your speed is slow compared to later in the race, so the wind shouldn’t matter.

Sprinters gain from a tailwind in the next 50 meters, where the wind isn’t measured.

When the wind gauge operator starts the meter for the 100m straightaway, a cross wind might be as low as +1.9.

As you can see, 200-meter wind measurements are flawed, but take the PB and run!

In the last 100m of the 400m, you want the wind because you’re slowing down. Use the wind to run a quick first 200m. Speed reserve determines 400-meter success.

(Linthorne, 1994)

Great Wind Assistance Stories

Two additional stories stand out besides Thompson’s and Gay’s 100 meters.

Willie Banks triple jumps 18.20m (+5.2).

Ivan Pedroso broke the long jump world record by one centimeter in 1995 at Sestriere, Italy. The wind gauge showed a permissible tailwind of +1.2 m/s, but someone was blocking it. The outcome was nullified. He jumped 8.96m.


Justin Gatlin runs faster than the world record with an illegal tailwind of 8.9 m/s!

Justin Gatlin Breaks Usain Bolt 100m World Record With Wind Aided 9.45 (Unofficially) Unbelievable American sprinter Justin Gatlin who has been banned for doping twice ran 100m faster than Usain Bolt’s world record in Japan using massive wind generators. While the wind generator produced winds as strong as 8.9m/s helping Gatlin to post a time of 9.45 seconds. And the time Gatlin produced in Japan with a helping wind was only 0.13 seconds faster than Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58 which was run under legal and normal weather conditions.


A Model for Determining the Effect of the Wind Velocity on 100 m Sprinting Performance – PubMed. (2017, June 22). PubMed. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28713468/

Lee, J. (2011, November 22). Wind Assistance: Do Illegal Tailwinds Help Sprinters? SpeedEndurance.com. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://speedendurance.com/2011/11/22/wind-assistance-do-illegal-tailwinds-help-sprinters/

Linthorne, N. (1994, January). Wind Assistance in the 100m Sprint. Modern Athlete and Coach

New insights into the effect of wind assistance on sprinting performance – PubMed. (1999, April 1). PubMed. Retrieved October 23, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10373041/





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