Monte Stratton, winner of 24 conference titles at TCU and Texas-Arlington, coaches Olympian Doc Patton, and is an acknowledged master of coaching the sprint relays. Sprint relay practice should be done at the start of practice when the runners are fresh and in the same type of fatigue level that they will be in at the meet. Technique work should be done when the body is fresh. The first and most important part of the relay is determining who your best curve and straightaway runners are, and putting them in the appropriate places on your relays.
Coach Patton states that all his runners are moved as far back in the acceleration zone as possible…”No games regarding who runs long and short.” The heel placed flat on the track in front of the acceleration triangle so that the judge is clear that the runner is legally ahead of the mark. The runner rolls forward and when the “go” mark is reached, the runner accelerates into full speed, preparing to receive the hand-off.
Texas A&M Head Coach, Pat Henry, is a recognized master at coaching the sprints. One of the things that makes a master coach is the ability to take a complex action, such as moving your body at maximum speed, and breaking that action down. It also is the sign of a master coach to be able to teach those points in a clear manner to other coaches and athletes. Many coaches are familiar with the “high knee” or “A-march” drill, but may not be aware of its importance for building correct sprint mechanics. For Coach Henry, in his own words…”This is where we start..” This drill develops the mechanics and posture needed for sprinting. Take a look at some special coaching points below the video:
1) The athlete needs to have an “ankle cocked” position. The “ankle cocked” position allows rebound and spring and proper form. “Toe –up” and “Ankle-Up” and even “Dorsi-flexed” are all cues to get the athlete to get the proper position. The foot should land under the knee, not be reaching forward.
2) Separation of the arms is important. By this Coach Henry means that the arms should be driving both forward and back. As a coach from the side you should be able to see both elbows as the athlete drives, one reaching forward, the other driving back. The arms are active, and from the front the motion you see should be backwards and forward, with little if any cross body action.
3) The athlete should be tall as they run. The body from the hips up is erect, with no or little lean forward and none backwards. A good coaching point in this series is that “the athlete should be two inches taller as they run.” Basically the extension of the legs into full position gives you this “tallness” in running.
View an additional clip from Texas A&M Track & Field Series – Drills and Progressions for Championship Sprints, Starts and Relays. See what other Sprints DVDs we have in our world class Track & Field DVD collection!