Improve Your 40 Yard Dash From STANCE to START By Mark Strasser M.S. CSCS of CriticalBench.com
The Art of the Start
One of the best ways of achieving your best time is by perfecting your starts. Rarely does any athlete practice their starts, but as much as a tenth of a second can be shaved off just by creating a more efficient start simply by practicing your specific start over and over.
Some athletes develop their stance through many years of repetition. Many athletes will never get into a three-point stance until they are timed in a sprint. A good stance and a quality start are skills that must be practiced.
A stance adjustment may help some athletes. An athlete can experiment with one technique at a time to see what stance suits them the best. Timing the differences in the 10-yard dash should be the comparison of which start is more effective.
The following are the points of emphasis of the sprinting stance:
1. Assume a three or four point-stance
2. Position the hips slightly higher than the head.
3. Place the feet less than shoulder-width apart.
4. Experiment with the distance between the front foot and the back foot.
5. Point the toes straight ahead.
6. Place the ankle of the front leg directly under the hip (roll the hips forward).
7. Focus the eyes on the ground approximately three yards ahead (do not look straight down)
8. Place the hand on the ground directly under the shoulder with most of the weight on the front hand and leg. If you were to lift your hand off the ground, you would fall forward.
9. Opposite arm is bent at a 90 degree angle and kept parallel to the torso.
An efficient, explosive start requires several coordinated actions to occur rapidly and simultaneously. Since some athletes never get into a three-point stance, it may require extra practice to develop an effective start.
Again, experiment with one technique at a time. Have someone time you to determine which, if any, prove to be more effective.
The following are the techniques emphasized in a sprint start:
1. Step out of the stance, thrusting the down arm backwards (scrape the ground hard and fast), while simultaneously driving the bent arm forward and throwing the hand in the direction you are running.
2. Throw the body forward and gain ground on the first step (many athletes take a very short first step)
3. Step forward in a straight line on the first step. Do not step away from the centerline of the body, as it will cost you time getting back on track.
4. Each succeeding step must be in a straight line (or you will waste more time waddling side to side until you eventually straighten out.)
5. Get up and out of your stance quickly, approaching the upright position by your second step.
6. Reach the upright position as soon as possible in order to begin taking full strides.
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