Sprints: From Start to Finish
McNamara, John, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators
Running is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It helps to build strong bones, a healthy body, and needs no equipment to perform. Additionally, it can be a valuable tool in physical education because it benefits students' speed, endurance, and overall health. However, limited space is often a concern when teaching, practicing, and training for the 100m, 200m, 400m, or 800m running events. But even if you don't have an indoor or outdoor track, the drills in this article can provide students with effective practice and training opportunities to improve their motor skills and physical conditioning. Both beginner and competitive sprinters can increase speed and performance by doing the drills and exercises outlined in this article. Each drill should be repeated three times. Instruct students to perform as many repetitions of each drill as possible in 10 seconds. The entire lesson outlined in this article can be completed in 45 minutes.
Provide the class with a brief overview of sprinting and running. Explain to students that the running stride can be broken down into three basic components or movements. The first component involves lifting the knee up using hip and knee flexion. This part of the stride will be referred to as "A."
The second component continues on from the finish position of the "A" drill. Simply have students extend the knee first, and then the hip. This will cause the foot to return to the ground and will prepare the runner to do the same drill with the other leg. This part of the stride will be referred to as "B."
The third and final component of the running stride involves kicking back (trying to touch your heel to your backside). Have students begin in a standing position with both feet on the ground. The body remains in this position except for knee flexion which alternates from one leg to the other. This part of the stride will be referred to as "C."
Each of the running technique drills described below can be executed with limited space. If students can reach out with both arms in either direction without touching their classmate, they will have sufficient room to perform these drills.
It is important that students warm up and stretch. There are a number of ways to get the specific muscles and the entire body ready for activity. Active stretching is a great option and will not only allow students to stretch out their muscles, but also warm the body up at the same time (McMillian, Moore, Hatler, & Taylor 2006). Most active stretching routines include a number of callisthenic-type exercises. Constant motion is kept throughout the routine as movements flow from one exercise to the next. Each major muscle group is used as students bend, stretch, twist, and rotate through various locomotor and non-locomotor positions. By performing the following five active stretching exercises, your students will be warmed up and ready to participate. Move from one exercise to the next, and do each exercise for approximately 30 seconds. This way you can repeat the five exercise sequence twice. This should take 10 minutes.
This active stretching movement involves keeping the legs in one spot while moving the upper body in a circular motion. The core muscles--the abdominals, obliques, and lower back--are used to execute this movement effectively.
Everyone starts this drill lying flat on their stomachs with arms at their sides. It is similar to the ready position before someone starts a pushup. From here the right leg is lifted up and across the midline of the body then placed back in the start position. Each leg is then alternated in the same way for the duration of the drill.
The feet do not move in this drill. …