Techniques Feburary 2018

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Volume 11 Number 3 / February 2018

in every issue

4 A Letter from the President 5 USTFCCCA Presidents



8 Strength Training for Distance Runners

Versatile conditioning improves balance and encourages longevity

Carrie Lane

18 Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

Distinguishing the static and the dynamic

Andreas V. Maheras, Ph.D.

34 Steeplechase 101

A basic framework for coaching the event

David Granato

40 Running with Circles

Optimizing the rotational movements of the core

Sam Wuest

52 Creating Confidence


The four sources of self-efficacy

Dr. Matthew Buns


62 National Coaches and Athletes of the Year


Photograph courtesy of Kirby Lee Image of Sport


FEBRUARY 2018 techniques




y hope is everyone had a safe and rewarding holiday season! While I know the 2018 Indoor season is well underway, I wish to reflect on the recent USTFCCCA convention in Phoenix. Attendance once again set a record, as 1,713 coaches were registered and participated at the convention, up from last years record of 1,608 in Orlando. When you add our supporting vendors and attendance at the Hall of Fame and Bowerman, the number grew to over 1,900! I personally want to thank all who attended and engaged in the various personal growth opportunities from the technical symposiums, which often had overflow crowds, and included all aspects of successful programs including Director of Operations to technical event coaching. This year’s Hall of Fame class was awesome as in the past. Their plight to success reminded us of the challenges and persistence required to be successful in not only developing great athletes but contributing citizens as well. As I often say, “if it were easy everyone could do it.” Congrats to the 2017 Hall of Fame class! I want to thank the Hall of Fame committee for the selections of this very deserving recognition, as I know your job is not an easy one. Thanks also go out to the divisional officers who take time throughout the year to lead their divisional meetings and run meetings during the convention. It goes without saying, special thanks to the national office staff for your efforts throughout the year and executing a great convention. Most importantly, thanks to our CEO, Sam Seemes for his leadership in putting together this year‘s convention. As always, another greatly anticipated Bowerman award was presented. We would like to thank our emcee, John Anderson, and FloTrack for another entertaining evening. Congrats to all the great athletes nominated and to our 2017 award winners Raevyn Rogers of the University of Oregon and Christian Coleman of the University of Tennessee. We all appreciate the work our Bowerman awards committee does throughout the year to select the greatest of the great’s for the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. As we move forward to another great year and 2018 convention, I encourage all members to participate in all aspects to improve our presence in collegiate Athletics. I encourage all members to frequently visit the USTFCCCA website for news and information updates. This is our most effective way to share information with our membership. Also pay close attention to emails you receive from our national office and your governing organization and committees. This will be the most effective way to be up-to-date with all NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA legislation that has been proposed and eventually voted on. Finally I want to encourage you to contribute to this publication. Send your ideas about article topics to Mike Corn at the national office. We must all work together to protect and improve our Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field programs. Best of luck during 2018 Track and Field seasons and I hope our members have a healthy and rewarding year!

DENNIS SHAVER President, USTFCCCA Dennis Shaver is the head men’s and women’s track and field coach at Louisiana State University. Dennis can be reached at


techniques february 2018

Publisher Sam Seemes Executive Editor Mike Corn Contributing Editor Kristina Taylor DIRECTOR OF MEDIA, BROADCASTING AND ANALYTICS Tom Lewis Membership Services Kristina Taylor communications

Tyler Mayforth, Curtis Akey Photographer Kirby Lee Editorial Board Tommy Badon, Todd

Lane, Boo Schexnayder, Derek Yush

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National Office 1100 Poydras Street, Suite 1750 New Orleans, LA 70163 Phone: 504-599-8900 Fax: 504-599-8909 Techniques (ISSN 1939-3849) is published quarterly in February, May, August and November by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the permission of the publisher. techniques is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in techniques are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the magazines’ managers or owners. Periodical Postage Paid at New Orleans La and Additional Entry Offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: USTFCCCA, PO Box 55969, Metairie, LA 70055-5969. If you would like to advertise your business in techniques, please contact Mike Corn at (504) 599-8900 or


Dave Smith

Connie Price-Smith is the head men’s and women’s track and field coach at the University of Mississippi. Connie can be reached at

Dave Smith is the director of track and field and cross country at Oklahoma State University. Dave can be reached at

Ryan Dall

Jim Vahrenkamp

Ryan Dall is the head track and field and cross country coach at Texas A&M Kingsville. Ryan can be reached at

Jim Vahrenkamp is the Director of cross country and track & field at Queens University. Jim can be reached at

Jason Maus

Dara Ford

NCAA Division 1 Track & Field

NCAA Division I Cross Country

DIVISION II NCAA Division II Track & Field

NCAA Division II Cross Country

DIVISION III Jason is the head cross country and track and field coach at Ohio Northern University and can be reached at

Dara is the head cross country and track and field coach at Otterbein University and can be reached at

Mike McDowell

Heike McNeil

Mike McDowell is the head men’s and women’s track and field coach at Olivet Nazarene University. Mike can be reached at

Heike McNiel is the head track and field and cross county coach at Northwest Christian University. Heike Can be reached at

Ted Schmitz

Don Cox

Ted Schmitz is the head track and field coach at Cloud County Community College. Ted can be reached at

Don Cox is the head track and field and cross country coach at Cuyahoga Community College. Don can be reached at

NAIA NAIA Track & Field

NAIA Cross Country

njcaa NJCAA Track and Field

NJCAA Cross Country

FEBRUARY 2018 techniques



techniques february 2018

kirby lee photo

Strength Training for Distance Runners versatile conditioning improves Balance and encourages longevity Carrie Lane


any good distance coaches recognize that a strength training regimen will enhance their athletes’ durability, coordination, and therefore efficiency of movement. But where to start? Even if coaches do understand how to interface strength with endurance, they face countless logistical challenges such as managing their team numbers safely, lack of a weight room, and many more. With all the time constraints encountered by high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate distance runners, strength and power sessions can easily fall by the wayside as the season progresses. However, there are numerous ways to keep strength training in the program year-round while navigating these unique challenges. This article will briefly justify why a strength and power program is beneficial for endurance athletes. Then will discuss what are the most important activities for distance runners and how to practically implement these exercises into the busy schedules of distance athletes. For the purposes of this article, the terms “strength training” or “weight training” include: absolute speed work (intense, short sprints with full recovery), medicine ball and bodyweight activities, traditional weight room activities, plyometric training, and sprint development drills. FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Strength Training for Distance Runners

WHY SHOULD WE LIFT? A consistent strength training program for distance runners will: 1. Improve running economy 2. Provide movement patterns that contrast the repetitive nature of running 3. Accelerate recovery and reduce injury potential

REASON #1: Improved Running Economy Simply put, running economy means that a runner gets from point A to point B with as little wasted energy as possible. Less wasted movement means conserving energy and reducing injury susceptibility. Research shows that a major influence on running economy is a runner’s ability to apply force off the ground. One, two, three strength training that concentrates 10

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on force production skills—namely in the form of low level plyometrics, short sprinting, multi-throws, and traditional Olympic lifting—is an excellent way to teach the force generating skills that improve stride efficiency. These movements demand a level of intensity that, in turn, trains the neuromuscular system to coordinate muscular firing patterns, maintain good posture while under load, change direction efficiently (i.e. “coupling time”), and build a supportive network of soft tissue development. These activities of strength training therefore provide runners with a variety of ways to train the skill that contributes to improved force production with each stride. (See Picture 1)

REASON #2: Variety of movement Not only does weight training teach valu-

able movement skills, it also provides opportunity to move in directions, planes, and amplitudes that differ from the repetitive, forward-moving motion of distance running. Variety of movement builds durability throughout the connective tissue in an athlete’s body. Picture a volleyball net that is pulled every day in the same direction. Over time, the individual squares of the net become distorted, lines of tension develop through the direction of pull, and perhaps the net begins to sag in certain places. The distortions that develop in the net can be corrected by pulling the net in a completely different direction, perhaps with a few hard tugs. Varying directions and amplitude of pull provide a change or stressor that allows the net to re-align. Similarly, in distance running, soft tissue is constantly “pulled” in one direction, caus-

REASON #3: Accelerate recovery

Picture 1: multi throw, cleans/Olympic lifts, short sprints (up stairs?), in-place jumps

Picture 2 & 3: Employing activities like backward lunges and rotational movements challenges coordination and provides variety of movement to repetitive-motion athletes, like distance runners.

Employing certain strength training protocols (sets, reps, rest) can complement and enhance the recovery processes for endurance athletes so that they are ready to go on hard workout days. Lifting relatively heavy loads allows distance runners to put more tissue under tension than they do when running at sub maximal paces or performing bodyweight strength exercises. When they tap into those less-used, but very large, muscle fibers, the body responds by releasing hormones that start the recovery and rebuilding process. While lifting heavy provides a contrast in intensity that offers anabolic effects for recovery, other strength training protocols complement the run intensity to also enhance recovery. These protocols usually come in the form of up-tempo bodyweight, medicine ball, and simple weight circuits. When performed with proper intensity and time limits, the cumulative effect of the circuits elicits an endocrine response to accelerate recovery. Therefore, following a recovery run with a few light strength circuits will enhance the desired effect for the day. An added bonus of these circuits is that they save some pounding on the legs and provide movement variety patterns to the most commonly used contractions of sub-maximal running. (See Picture 4 on next page) Circuits are where most distance coaches live when it comes to strength training. They present minimal risk of injury when implementing with a group of diverse abilities, with limited time, and limited equipment. When performed properly, they are an excellent complement to recovery runs.

WHAT ACTIVITIES SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN STRENGTH TRAINING SESSIONS? ing strength in commonly used planes and amplitudes, and weakness and strain in less commonly used movement patterns. If the direction and amplitude of stress is altered—like pulling a few hard tugs of the net in a different direction—tissue

will strengthen throughout the body, not just where it is most used during running efforts. In short, strength training can greatly enhance durability throughout runners’ soft tissue and joints. (See Picture 2 & 3)

When orchestrating running and strength sessions, the paramount goal should be to match the running theme with the strength training theme. Common themes that transfer seamlessly from the running workout to the strength training workout send the body and brain the same clear FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Strength Training for Distance Runners

Picture 4: When managing large groups, relay-style activities are one way to keep athletes mentally engaged and maintain the desired intensity of the circuit

message. Therefore, on recovery and threshold days, strength training activities should consist of work that enhances recovery, namely in the form of the short, mildly intense circuits described later in this article. On more intense speed development days, strength training can consist of more technically demanding work, such as jumping, throwing, or Olympic and static lifting, which are all activities that help build firing patterns, coordination, posture, and running economy. In short, common themes amongst running and lifting sessions means less busy work and more targeted purpose to every component of training activities.

Strength training activities to improve force production skills The fastest running days provide optimal opportunity for strength training sessions that focus on improving running economy. Here are the types of activities to include on these days: 1. Sprint development drills 12

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2. Hurdle mobility 3. Random “play” 4. Jumping and throwing 5. Fast, short sprinting 6. Olympic lifts and reactive strength exercises 7. Static lifts (multi jointed, heavy resistance exercises) Of course, all of these exercises need not be included in each training session, but these all help to promote the skill of efficient force generation. Large groups or more developmental runners may never advance to Olympic and static lifts. There are many exercises outside of the weight room that closely mimic the loads, velocities, and muscular coordination demands that athletes will encounter while running. Coaches should utilize exercises from the above categories that correlate with the athlete’s developmental age, include elements of coupling time (that is, an athlete’s ability to change direction quickly), challenge coordination, and strictly adhere to postural control.

Since distance runners spend less time on pure speed development, these force production sessions will be more dispersed than their sprinter counterparts, who engage in speed development sessions 2-3 times per week.

Protocols for force development activities: Adhering to the “common theme” rule means it will take longer for distance athletes to train force application activities. However, the grey area is the warmup. The lowest level force production skill training (sprint drills, hurdle mobility, random play) can be implemented daily within a simple ten-minute warmup or cooldown, regardless of the workout theme. What little mileage might be sacrificed to make time for these dynamic movement activities, will pay off in training the athletes’ ability to handle the repetitive forces of distance running. (See Picture 5) With regards to random play, these are simple, non-contact games that allow for

help to accelerate recovery include: 1. Bodyweight circuits (these are called “General Strength” in most track and field applications) 2. Medicine ball circuits 3. Bodybuilding circuits These circuits will be the bread and butter of most of strength training efforts in the endurance world, since they match so well with sub-maximal effort running. They are staples of many quality track and field programs, thanks mostly to the early coaching education literature compiled by coaches such as Boo Schexnayder, Dan Pfaff, and others. They are easy to employ with large groups of varying ability. They are also easy to implement outside the weight room and in a short amount of time. Picture 5: Incorporating a variety of sprint development drills into a daily warmup is an efficient way to train light force production skills every day. Having athletes hold a stick overhead enforces postural stabilizing skills in an upright position.

low level plyometric training and variety of movement. They are a great alternative to a traditional warmup or cooldown and still provide force development education. Games such as knockout in basketball, ultimate frisbee, light soccer shootouts, or other light contests offer a less structured setting than traditional warmups or cooldowns. A less structured session often re-invigorates athletes and opens them up to learning new skills. Especially in the case of an injured athlete, these “games” allow for brain re-training as the body learns how to move again. While incorporating a dynamic movement warmup or cooldown is the first step in a strength training program for endurance athletes, the next progression is to properly add multi-jumps, multi-throws, short sprints, and/or traditional weight room activities. These activities are NOT aerobic training, and ample time should be allowed for athletes to rest in between sets. The emphasis is on high quality on each repetition. The number of repetitions performed follows traditional speed/power training, and is generally determined by the point at which technique breaks down. The repetition range for most exercises generally falls somewhere between one and eight reps per exercise, depending on

the activity. Force development activities, particularly those not involving the weight room, should be implemented as early as possible in the training cycle and modified for lower level athletes. Inserting intense, power-based movements early in the training cycles, even if drastically modified for ability or time of year, will serve distance runners well as they strive to improve overall movement economy. Waiting to employ these movements until athletes are more developed or until it is “racing” season does not build a proper base for the skill of running fast. Force production activities can and should be included throughout the year, and can be modified to match skill levels and training phases.

Strength training activities to accelerate recovery Training programs for distance runners employ a heavy dose of sub-maximal running that is designed to improve aerobic fitness and provide oxidative recovery after hard workouts. Strength training can easily “piggy-back” these running workouts and will enhance recovery-based and threshold-pace running sessions. The categories of strength training that

Bodyweight and Medicine Ball Circuits Not all circuits are created equal, and this is where many endurance coaches implement less-than-ideal circuit protocols. To gain the desired recovery effect of these circuits, athletes’ effort levels needs to be high enough to elicit mild amounts of lactate into the blood, but not too high that they “go lactic” looking like an elephant just jumped on their back. The body responds to mild lactate levels by releasing valuable recovery-oriented hormones. As athletes progress through the circuit, they should be moving with intent through each exercise, maintaining effort somewhere between a too slow “gossip session” and a too intense or too long “death march.” For example, 30 seconds of work (bodyweight squats) followed by 15-30 seconds of rest, then followed by another activity (v-sits) with the same work- torest combination. Continue with a variety of movements, employing large muscle groups, for 8-12 minutes. Working longer than 40 seconds per exercise bout, or longer than 12 minutes for the entire circuit, will not achieve the proper lactate levels needed to promote recovery. Combine a few of these short circuits together, taking 2-3 minutes of rest after each one. Bodyweight and medicine ball circuits allow for creativity and variety in exercise selection. While there are complex strategies to choosing the types and order of exercises for these circuits, in general, start with the biggest movements in the first FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Strength Training for Distance Runners circuit (lunges, mountain climbers, v-ups, etc) and progress to circuits focusing on smaller muscle groups (core, planks, barefoot work) next. To provide movement variety and strengthen tissue throughout the body, include a heavy dose of rotational, lateral, diagonal and posterior chainfocused movements within each circuit.

Weight Room Circuits Weight room activities can also be a complex maze of activities that are difficult to pare down to what is the most efficient use of an athlete’s time. A good way to utilize the weight room without doing complex movements, like Olympic lifts and squats, is to put together a circuit of simple, “regional” lifting movements. These are often called “Bodybuilding” or “Regenerative” circuits. These circuits involve simple, non-technical weighted movements, such as lat pulldowns, bicep curls, step ups, weighted sit ups, and others, organized in a way that provides an endocrine-based recovery response. These circuits have also come in to popularity with track and field programs. They offer muscular endurance, variety of movement, and hormonal responses that accelerate recovery. Just like the general strength circuits, the work intervals on these weight circuits should be low enough to allow for moderately high power output on each exercise. The general protocol for a Bodybuilding circuit is 10-12 exercises, 2 x 10 reps per exercise at approximately 75% of maximal effort (meaning the last 1-2 reps should be slightly difficult), with 60-90 seconds rest between each exercise. 9, 11 The specific exercises should address all regions of the body, but the lifts should not be technical in nature. Bodybuilding circuits are fairly simple to organize with a large group, as athletes can partner up and move through each “station” of activities. Grouping athletes at a station will ensure they rest as needed while still getting quality work. In short, “Theme is King” when organizing effective and efficient strength programs for distance runners. Matching the fastest running days with the most intense and complex strength training activities will enhance the neuromuscular coordination needed for fast, efficient running. Conversely, matching the submaximal threshold, intervals, and easy runs with strength protocols that help 14

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accelerate recovery will greatly augment the run training.

BUT WE DON’T HAVE…. There are plenty of strength training challenges that distance teams of all ages and abilities encounter. Many coaches argue that their teams are too big to organize productive strength sessions, that they have diverse levels of skills and motivation from their athletes, they don’t have facility access, or their assigned strength coach does whatever he or she wants. These and other scenarios are real issues that most distance coaches must work through. Many coaches have figured out creative ways to implement strength/power/speed training without the use of a weight room. For their force production skill work, they employ jumping and all-out, short sprinting (even up a steep set of stairs), both of which require no equipment. They bring medicine balls, sand-filled innertubes, or portable hurdles to the local park where they train. They organize relay-style circuits that foster a competitive environment to keep enthusiasm high. They schedule strength training on different days for different groups of runners. To make time for these activities, a small percentage of overall mileage may be sacrificed. But to foster long-term durability of runners, sacrificing a small percentage of mileage to make time for work that enhances running economy is a sacrifice worth making. In many cases, getting healthy athletes to the line late in the season when competitors may be sidelined with injury, is argument enough for this small mileage sacrifice. Strength training for endurance athletes provides robustness, power, and movement economy to runners of all ability levels. 12 Many endurance coaches are taking pages from the speed/power world and adapting the training concepts for their aerobic athletes. Complementary and contrasting movements provide durability to soft tissue. Force production training as early as possible during a career or a season offers athletes small “hits” of movement economy training throughout the season. And, finally, common “training themes” should provide guidance to coordinate strength sessions that match the theme of the running session.

refrences 1. Mann R, Sprague P. A Kinetic Analysis of the Ground Leg During Sprinting, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 1980. 51;2, pp 334-348. 2. Weyand P, et al. Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces, not rapid leg movement. J Appl Physiology. 2000. 89, pp 1991-99. 3. Weyand P, et al. Biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up. J Appl Physiology. 2010. 108, pp 950-961. 4. Sale D. Neural adaptation to resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988. 20 pp s135-145. 5. Kraemer, W. J., et al. Hormonal and growth factor responses to heavy resistance exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 1990. 69, pp 14421450. 6. Gladden, L.B. Lactate metabolism: a new paradigm for the third millennium. J Physiol. 2004. 558, pp 5-30. 7. Phillip. A., et al. (2005). Lactate- A signal coordinating cell and system function. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 208, pp 4561-4575. 8. Brooks, G.A. The lactate shuttle during exercise and recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1986. 18, pp 360-368. 9. Schexnayder, B, et al. TRACK AND FIELD ACADEMY SCC 301 CURRICULUM. 2013. 10. Knowles, B (interview). Reconditioning with Bill Knowles. GAINcast episode 49, http://www.hmmrmedia. com/2017/01/gaincast-episode-49-reconditioning-with-bill-knowles/ Jan 26, 2017 11. Kraemer, W. Influence of endocrine system on resistance training adaptation. NSCA Journal. 1992. 14:2, pp 42-45. 12. Balsalobre-Fernández C, SantosConcejero J, Grivas G V. Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: A systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Strength & Conditioning Research. 2016. 30 (8): 2361-2368.

Carrie Lane is an assistant track and field coach at the University of Wyoming. She also serves as a lead instructor in the USTFCCCA Track & Field Academy’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification program.


techniques february 2018

Biomechanical Observations in

Hammer Throwing Distinguishing the Static and the Dynamic Andreas V. Maheras, Ph.D.


he complex special structure of the hammer throw, and the relatively long time that is used to obtain the final speed of the hammer, make it possible that small changes can be the causes of the differences in the distance thrown. Those differences range between fifteen and twenty meters, that is, between the world elite and mediocre throwers. This narrative will focus on certain biomechanical observations of the event that can be considered central during its execution.

Basic Considerations To throw the hammer as far as possible, the thrower makes two or three preliminary winds in which both feet remain in contact with the ground, followed by three or four rotations in which the thrower turns with the hammer as a system. The distance achieved by the hammer when the aerodynamic resistances are not considered, is determined in a major way by the speed of the hammer at the moment of release and, in a lesser way, by the angle of projection and the height of release. An application of the theoretical model that predicts the range of a projectile would show that the optimum angle of projection would be close to 45 degrees in spite of the fact that the hammer is released above the ground. Following those generic aspects of the hammer throw it is necessary to make the temporal description of the phases that determine it, in order to better understand the factors that influence their effectiveness. FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

on the circle, and d) the total movement.

Force Interaction

Figure 1. Graphic representation of the total movement (adapted from Gutierrez & Soto, 2001).

By observing a throw, three phases can be distinguished chronologically: a) The winds, when the hammer is rotated around the thrower, usually 2 or 3. b) The turns, when the hammer and the thrower rotate around a common axis, usually 3 or 4 turns. c) The release, which comprises of a short interval of time from the beginning of the last double support until the hammer is released. The objective of the winds is to impart mostly horizontal speed and establish an initial plane of motion to the hammer to better be able to initiate the turns. The objective of the turns is to accelerate the hammer and change its plane of motion, the goal being to obtain a high final velocity and an angle of projection close to 40 degrees. Taking into account the positions adopted by the thrower in each turn, this can be divided into two distinct periods: a) Double support, where both feet remain in contact with the ground. b) Single support, where the thrower rotates keeping only the left foot on the ground (right hand throwers). Historically, special attention has been devoted to those two periods, based on the general belief that the hammer can 20

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only be accelerated during the period of double support, and that the thrower cannot actively influence the speed of the hammer during the single support phase. This belief has been questioned by Dapena (1984, 1986, 1989) and Bartlett (1992, 1994) both showing that it is possible to increase the speed during the single support period. Analyzing the trajectory of the hammer with respect to an inertial reference system, the throwing action assumes a quite complex movement, composed of the sum of many different movements (Dapena, 1984, 1986). That is, a) A circular movement of the hammer around the athlete. b) A gradual change in the inclination of the plane of the hammer in order to obtain an angle that approximates the theoretical 45 degrees with respect to the horizontal plane. c) A horizontal translation of the entire system, thrower plus hammer, through the throwing circle. Figure 1 shows the construction of the total movement from: a) the circular movement around a vertical axis, b) the change of inclination with respect to the horizontal axis, c) the horizontal translation of the throwing system and hammer

Considering the circular movement of the hammer throwing system, to achieve a certain amount of angular momentum it is necessary to apply the greatest possible eccentric force. This force produces a circular trajectory, both of the hammer and of the thrower, and an internal force of the system that is translated in terms of the effort that the thrower has to exert on the hammer due to the centripetal force, that is, a force pointing towards the center of the circular path that the ball follows. This force is exerted through the cable. As the thrower-plus-hammer system advances across the circle, one may think that the thrower uses forces resulting from the friction between his/her feet and the ground to resist against being pulled forward, much like what happens in tug-of-war (Woicik, 1980). However, the dynamics of the two activities are quite different and it is clear that this does not happen in the hammer throw; one should think of the thrower and the hammer as if they were a two-star system, a small one and a large one that revolve around a common turning center (Dapena, 1986). In hammer throwing, the reactionary forces that keep the hammer ball on its circular path, also serve to keep the thrower on her own, circular path. This implies that the thrower does not push forward on the ground in order to stay in place. Figure 2 shows what happens in what could be called a tug-of-war scenario (Dapena, 2007). Here, F1 is the forward force made by the wire on the hands; F2 is the weight; F3 is the vertical force made by the ground on the foot; F4 is the horizontal force made by the ground on the foot. F2 is about the same size as F3, so they essentially cancel each other out; F1 is about the same size as F4, so they also cancel out. The sum of all the forces made on the thrower is approximately zero and he/she not moving at all (in

Figure 2: Forces on the athlete in a tug-of-war (adapted from: Dapena, 2007)

Figure 3: Forces on the thrower in hammer throwing (adapted from: Dapena, 2007)

Figure 4: The combined centre of mass of the thrower-plushammer system (adapted from: Dapena, 2007).

a static condition). In other words, the body of the thrower experiences no linear acceleration. Figure 3, shows what really happens in hammer throwing. Here, force F4 is essentially missing. So forces F2 and F3 essentially cancel each other out, leaving us with force F1, which, indeed, accelerates the body forward. But this forward acceleration will not make the thrower actually translate forward and fall flat on his/her face. The reason is that the thrower (like the hammer) is rotating about the combined center of mass (CM) of the thrower-plus-hammer system. In Figure 4 we see that the thrower’s CM (yellow dot) is very close to the combined system CM (green dot), so the radius of the path (violet line) followed by the thrower’s CM about the combined system CM is pretty small, the distance between those two dots. But the thrower’s CM is indeed rotating about the combined system CM, and such a rotation (like any other rotation) requires a centripetal acceleration, a force to keep the body’s CM following that short-radius circular path. And that force is exerted by the hammer on the hands through the wire, which we have called F1 in Figures 2 and 3 and 4. The phenomenon described shows that some of the forces required to maintain the static balance of the tug-of-war athlete are not necessary for the dynamic balance of the rotating hammer thrower. It also shows the need for coaches to make a distinction between static and dynamic balance when dealing with hammer throwing. Figure 5 shows a scheme of the hammer throwing system, where the big star would be the thrower, with a mass (m1), a radius of rotation of its center of gravity (Cg.) with respect to the center of rotation of the system (r1) and a tangential velocity of its Cg., (v1). The small star is the hammer with a mass m2, a radius of rotation (r2) and a tangential velocity (v2). Considering that there are no forces FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

it would be desirable to achieve a large area of ​​sweep of the hammer, expressed via (r2 x v2), then as the mass of the thrower increases, the value of (r2 x v2) will increase proportionally, which would increase, both the hammer radius and its tangential velocity, assuming that the angular momentum is the same, or similarly, exerting the same effort. Following Hay (1980), when considering the circular movement of the hammer from a purely cinematographic point of view and using the expression (2) Figure 5. Representation of the hammer+thrower system as it rotates around the vertical axis (adapted from Gutierrez & Soto, 2001).

(2) v = w r where v corresponds to the tangential velocity, w, the angular velocity and r, the radius of rotation of the hammer, the following conclusions are drawn: a) When the angular velocity of the hammer (w) is constant and the radius (r) increases, the tangential velocity of the hammer (v) increases. b) When the radius is kept constant and the angular velocity is increased, the tangential velocity increases. c) In any case, the greatest increase in tangential velocity occurs when both the angular velocity and the radius increase.

Periods of Double and Single Support

Figure 6. Critical points in the course of a hammer throw.

external to the system in circular motion, the angular momentum is expressed as a direct relation to the mass and the product corresponding to the radius of rotation and the velocity vector of the Cg., both of the thrower and of the hammer, respectively as shown below. (1) m1 * (r1 x v1) = m2 * (r2 x v2) (See Figure 5) 22

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In (1), m1 and m2 correspond to the masses of the thrower and hammer, respectively, r1 and r2 to the radius of rotation of the thrower and the hammer respectively and v1 and v2, to the tangential velocity of the Cg. of the thrower and the hammer respectively. If we consider that the mass of the hammer is constant (7.26 Kg) and that

It seems normal that traditionally coaches have sought to extend the period of double support after the technical changes proposed by Bondarchuk (1979, 1987). The logic used to make the proposal to increase the period of double support is very simple. When it is intended to increase the angular velocity of the hammer around a vertical axis (horizontal velocity), it is easier to do it when the two feet are in contact with the ground than when in a single support. As a conclusion of this logic, many practitioners proposed that it is necessary to have a period of double support of greater duration in each turn, and that it is necessary to reduce the duration of the single support phase in each turn. In the speed graphs of the hammer obtained by cinematographic techniques (Kuznetsov, 1985, Dapena, 1984, 1989 and Bondartschuk,

Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

Figure 7. Typical raw hammer speed fluctuations. Dark intervals double support, clear intervals single support.

1987) fluctuations of the speed are observed very marked in each turn, accelerating only in the period of double support, a fact that apparently reinforces, this theory. Starting a few decades ago, important technical elements were introduced by practitioners and others (e.g., Tschiene, 1980; Samozvetov, 1971) to maximize the period of double support. The thinking behind those movements is based on the simple model: double-support = when the thrower can increase hammer velocity, single-support = a waiting period.

Double Support Revisited However, just because two quantities coincide in time does not mean that one causes the other. In fact, no direct cause and effect link has been shown between the double-support phase and the increase in hammer velocity (Dapena, 1989). Moreover, film analysis data may not fully support the theory either (Gutierrez, Soto & Rojas, 2002, Panoutsakopoulos, 2006). It is possible then that the association between hammer velocity increase and the doublesupport is spurious and coincidental and, importantly, that there may be other factors involved. One such a factor may be gravity. As the hammer moves upwards and down24

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wards in its sloped plane of movement, gravity naturally will affect its velocity. Another factor may be the horizontal translation of the thrower-plus-hammer system. translation of the thrower-plushammer system across the circle. Such a combined movement will affect the velocity of the hammer (for a detailed explanation see Maheras, 2010, 2011). These two factors, gravity and horizontal translation, can be mathematically accounted for and subsequently removed from consideration when the hammer velocity is calculated (Dapena, 1984). Under these circumstances, in some throwers, the fluctuations observed in the velocity of the hammer disappeared. Yet in others, there was still indication of this fluctuation. Thus, it is possible that other factors may also be affecting hammer velocity in some throwers. Another problem with the “long double-support” hypothesis is that it only considers rotation about the vertical axis. This implies that the motion of the hammer ball is only on a horizontal plane (Woicik, 1980). In reality, however, the motion of the hammer also takes place about the horizontal axis, which implies motion of the ball on a vertical plane (Figure 1b). Therefore, the circular trajectory of the hammer is produced through an inclined axis that allows it to obtain

a release angle of c. 45 degrees with respect to a plane parallel to the direction of the throw and the horizontal of the ground. The rotation of the hammer around the horizontal axis means that, in the trajectory described by the head of the hammer, there is a high point and a low point that define the angle of the hammer movement plane with respect to the horizontal of the ground and in which instance the vertical component changes direction. Figure 6 shows the location, on the azimuthal angle of the high and low point, as well as the period of double support and single support, according to Dapena (1986) on high-level throwers. The fact that there is a circular movement around the vertical axis and another through the horizontal axis means that to increase the speed of the hammer, it is necessary to apply an eccentric force around a vertical axis, but it is also necessary to apply force around a horizontal axis. The results of the investigations carried out by Dapena (1986) indicate that, of the total increase in the speed experienced by the hammer during the turns, only a small part is associated with the moment of force around the vertical axis (horizontal velocity), while for the most part, the increase in hammer speed is associated with the application of force around the horizontal axis (vertical velocity). In other words, the majority of velocity increase during the turns is vertical velocity and only a small part of the increase is horizontal velocity (Dapena, 1989). It is true that the horizontal velocity of the hammer can be increased much more effectively during doublesupport than during single-support. However, this is only the case when the thrower is rotating very slowly. During the winds (when the speed of rotation is slow and the thrower is all the time in double-support), the thrower increases the horizontal

Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

Figure 8. Graphic description of the transfer of the angular momentum of the thrower+hammer system (adapted from Gutierrez & Soto, 2001).

velocity of the hammer. But by the time the turns start, the hammer is turning fairly fast, and the body of the thrower is also turning pretty fast. As a result, during the turns, no more horizontal velocity of the hammer can be generated, regardless of whether it is at an instant in which the thrower is in single-support or at an instant in which the athlete is in double-support (Dapena, 1989, 2007). What we see is that the hammer does indeed gain velocity during the turns but it does not gain any horizontal velocity, all the gain is in the vertical (also in Murofushi et al., 2007), and has nothing to do with the thrower being in doublesupport or in single-support. Finally, Bondartsuck (2009) postulated that: “Contrary to common assumption, the double support phase is not the key to greater acceleration of the hammer and longer throws. World record holder Yuriy Sedych threw farther when total time of the throwing foot contacts was shorter, as do the best today”.

Changes in Hammer Speed During Each Turn Therefore, to accelerate the hammer, the thrower needs to create two moments of force, one about the vertical axis and another about the horizontal, the latter being the most significant to produce the desired speed change. Figure 7 shows the general speed graph of the hammer, adapted from Kuznetsov (1965) and


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confirmed by both Bondartschuk (1987) and by Dapena (1989). It shows that the speed increases only during the period of double support, while during the single support period that increase does not exist. This makes us think that it is only possible to accelerate the hammer during the period of double support, and that during the period of single support there is usually a significant reduction in speed and only high-level throwers manage to retain speed. This means that, according to the reasoning given and based on the aforementioned data, exerting force during the single support on the hammer can for certain throwers be, negative, which reflects that for those throwers the period of single support represents only a mere transition, a waiting period, before continuing accelerating the hammer in the ensuing double support. It seems unquestionable that there are fluctuations in the graph of the speed of the hammer in each turn, but as described earlier, Dapena (1989) questions that the only cause of the acceleration and deceleration of the hammer is due to the fact of being in double support or single support, respectively. The influence of gravity and the horizontal translation of the system will affect the uncorrected velocity of the hammer. Again, the results obtained showed a reduction in the magnitude of the veloc-

ity fluctuations which in some throwers disappeared almost completely. Dapena (1989) concluded that, in certain throwers, almost all the hammer speed fluctuation is due to the combined effect of gravity and the horizontal movement of the thrower and hammer system on the throwing circle and not to the fact of being in double support. On the contrary, in other throwers he found that there was still a very clear fluctuation in hammer speed, even after subtracting the effects of gravity and horizontal movement. Due, probably, to the moments of force generated through the vertical axis due to the torsion of the trunk relative to the hips, it is possible that the period of double support has a casual influence on the increase in the speed of the hammer, although it can also be due to a good transfer of the angular momentum generated through the horizontal axis, when it is in double support, and a bad transfer when it is in single support, as we will see below.

Transfer of Angular Momentum about the Horizontal Axis As described in the investigations carried out by Dapena (1989), most of the increase in the speed experienced by the hammer, during each turn, is associated with the force created around the horizontal axis, which causes an increase in the angular momentum, through that same axis, on the thrower and hammer system. To describe how the thrower accelerates the hammer using the angular momentum of the system, coming from the application of a moment of force, consider that in figure 8a, as also in figure 8b, the value of the angular momentum through a horizontal axis is the same and that forces external to the system do not act. In Figure 8a the angular momentum produced by a force moment counter-clockwise, around the horizontal axis, as well as the sweep area of the hammer, as described by the Cg. of

Figure 9: Vertical force (F) made by the ground, and anticlockwise torque (T) produced around the longitudinal Y-axis during single-support (adapted from: Dapena, 2008). Note: This axis would be perpendicular to the page and is passing through the centre of mass (white dot at the right hip area). The torque about the centre of mass would be the product of (r) x (F), and the torque itself would be as indicated by the curved red arrow. The torque vector would be pointing along the Y-axis, from the page toward the reader.

the hammer with respect to the center of rotation of the hammer + thrower system, is a situation where all the segments remain in the same position, and there has been no movement within the system. On the contrary, in Figure 8b, the thrower has made an upward movement of her arms and hammer, causing a transfer of the angular momentum from the thrower to the hammer, causing it to increase its sweep area, and decreasing the displacement, in the same sense, of the rest of the segments (thrower), being able to become negative (displacement clockwise). In this situation the sum of the segmental angular moments remains constant, but the hammer has accelerated upwards. Something similar to when we lose our balance backwards and turn our arms in this same direction so as not to fall. According to the above, it is important

that the thrower generate force through the horizontal axis, then transfer the angular momentum to the hammer. The question is to know how the thrower creates those forces, both in double support and in single support. In order to describe how the force in single support is generated, it is necessary to examine Figure 9, where the diagram of the forces that are prevalent when the thrower is in single support is shown. During single-support, the torque is produced automatically because the point of support, which is the left foot, is not directly under the thrower, and the reactionary vertical force generated by the ground on the left foot exerts a torque about a longitudinal axis passing through the center of mass (CM). To better picture this effect, we can picture someone standing with both feet on the ground, if they were to remove the right foot without making any other changes,

would fall toward the right. However, this is not the case during hammer throwing because the torque that the thrower receives from the ground is transmitted to the hammer. This way, the thrower does not fall despite the fact that the point of support (the left foot) is not directly beneath his/her CM while at the same time the hammer accelerates. During the phase of double support, the thrower can also receive a moment of force around the horizontal axis. According to Dapena (1989 and 2008), the torque in the vertical direction (about the horizontal axis) is generated during double-support as follows: First, the thrower presses harder on the ground with the left foot than with the right foot and/or second, the thrower generates vertical forces on the ground with both feet, but keeps the CM of the thrower-hammer system closer to the right foot than to the left foot, instead of half-way between them (Figure 9; also for a more detailed explanation see Maheras, 2010, 2011). In Figure 10 on top, the total amount of torque produced equals zero. In the middle of Figure 10, the CM is still halfway between the two legs but the left foot exerts a larger torque and the net effect, the difference between the two directions, is a total torque pointing clockwise, from the thrower’s point of view, which effectively tends to cause the thrower to rotate in that direction (towards his/her right). From this position if the thrower accidentally let go of the hammer, he/she would fall towards his/her right side. However, the thrower does not let go of the hammer and by pulling on the cable, he/ she will give the hammer an upward acceleration. The eventual practical benefit of the left foot pressing harder on the ground is that the thrower will be able to pull harder upward on the hammer during the upward part of the hammer trajectory resulting in an even greater upward acceleration due to that pulling. FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing

Figure 10: Torque generation during double-support (adapted from: Dapena, 2007), Note: The terms “torque clockwise” and “torque anticlockwise” refer to those directions from the reader’s point of view not the thrower’s point of view. Therefore, a “clockwise torque” refers to a tendency for a rotation towards the thrower’s own left and “anticlockwise torque” refers to a tendency for a rotation towards the thrower’s own right.

A detail that needs to be mentioned here is that, during most of the time when the hammer ball is travelling upward, the athlete will be not in double-support but in single-support. The uphill motion will occur approximately between the 0º and 180º azimuthal positions of the hammer. During this ascent, the thrower will be in double-support from azimuthal angle of 0º of the hammer to azimuthal angle of 50º or so (very rough value), and from there all the way to 180º he/she will be in single-support. In other words, during most of the uphill travel of the hammer the thrower will 28

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be in single-support. Finally, at the bottom of Figure 10, the combination of the location of the CM, which is now more towards the right foot, and the amount of torque generated by the feet, produce an even greater net anticlockwise torque.

Conclusions Four factors can be considered influential, causal and interacting during the course of a hammer throw and can be taken into account as a decisive factor affecting the technique of a thrower: a) The angle of inclination of the hammer in each turn.

b) Compromise between the turning radius and the impulse in double support, valued by the azimuthal angles of the hammer when the right foot takes off and resumes contact with the ground, in each turn. c) Behavior of the speed of the hammer, both horizontal and vertical, during the throw. d) Angular momentum of the hammer through the vertical and horizontal axis. In general, it can be said that observing the data obtained by higher level throwers, the theory that the hammer can only be accelerated during the period of double support, without the possibility of actively influencing its speed during the single support period is confirmed when only the rotation about the vertical axis (horizontal speed) is taken into account. In this sense, the angular momentum of the hammer generated through the vertical axis is greater during the period of double support than during the single support, in all cases, which implies that the athletes develop a greater amount of force during the double support and that the better throwers are those who reduce their angular momentum less during the single support phase. The truth is that the hammer throw can not be understood only from an azimuthal perspective where the hammer revolves around an axis of vertical theoretical rotation. Analyzing the orbit of the hammer with respect to an inertial reference system, the thrower also goes through a gradual change in the inclination of the plane of the hammer and, consequently also goes through a rotary movement through an axis that is horizontal and identified with the direction of the displacement of the Cg of the hammer throwing system. (Dapena, 1984, 1986). Observing the angular momentum values ​​obtained when analyzing the movement around the horizontal axis, contrary to what happened on the vertical axis, in all cases the highest value of

Biomechanical Observations in Hammer Throwing the angular momentum of the hammer is located during the single support period, which agrees with the findings of Dapena (1984, 1986, 1989) and from which it appears that it is possible to increase the speed during the period of single support and that a large part of the increase in the tangential velocity of the hammer is associated with the moment of force generated around the horizontal axis. Comparing the data between higher and lower level throwers, we can conclude that the great difference between high level and other throwers lies in the fact that the difference between the values ​​of angular momentum of the hammer through the horizontal axis (during single support) are remarkable, in that the high level throwers can apply a great force to the hammer through the horizontal axis during the period of single support, while the other throwers have great difficulty to increase their momentum during that phase, especially during the last two turns. Another big difference is that while top throwers achieve a relatively large turning radius during the first turn and keep it throughout the execution of the throw, other throwers get a somewhat shorter turning radius in the first turn, reducing it considerably during the duration of the throw. In memory of: Track & Field pioneer, George Dales (Deligiorgis), 1921-2017

References Bondarchuk, A. (1979). Die moderne technik bein hammerwerfen. Leichtathletic Osterreich 2, 3, 22-23. Bondarchuk, A. (1987). Modern technique in hammer throwing. The Throws. European Athletics Coaches Association, XIV Congress, Aix-Les-Bains, Ed: A.E.F.A, 75010 Paris. Bondarchuk, A. (2009). I.A.A.F New Studies in Athletics, v. 4, 2009, p.p. 85. Dapena, J. (1984). The pattern of hammer speed during a hammer throw and influences of gravity on its fluctuations. Journal of Biomechanics, 17, 8, 553-559. Dapena, J. (1986). A kinematic study of center of mass motion in the hammer throw. Journal of Biomechanics, 19, 2,


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147-158. Dapena, J. (1989). Some biomechanical aspects of hammer throwing. Athletics Coach, 23 (3), 12-19. Dapena J., & McDonald, C. (1989). A three-dimensional analysis of angular momentum in the hammer throw. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 21 (2), 206-220. Dapena, J. (2007; 2008). Personal Communication. Gutierrez, M., Soto, V., & Rojas, F. (2002). A biomechanical analysis of the individual techniques of the hammer throw finalists in the Seville Athletics World Championship 1999. I.A.A.F, New Studies in Athletics, 17 (2), 15-26. Gutierrez, D., & Soto, H. (2001). Analisis biomechanico de la lanzamiento de martillo. In: Analisis Biomechanico de los Lanzamientos en Atletismo. Consejo Superior de Deportes, Centro de Alto Rendimiento y investigacion en Ciencias del deporte , Eds: Ministerio de Educacion, 28040 Madrid. Kuznetsov, V. (1965). Path and speed of the hammer in the turns. Legkaya Atletika, 11, 11-12. Maheras, A. (2010). Reassessing Velocity Generation in Hammer Throwing. I.A.A.F., New Studies in Athletics, 24:4, 71-80. Maheras, A. (2011). The Single Support in Hammer Throwing. Techniques for Track and Field & Cross Country, 5 (2), 14-20. Morriss, C. & Bartlett, R. (1994). Biomechanical analysis of the hammer throw. Athletics Coach, 28 (3), 18-27. Morriss, C. & Bartlett, R. (1992). Biomechanical analysis of the hammer throw. Athletics Coach, 26 (3), 11-17. Murofushi, K., Sakurai, S., Umegaki, K., & Takamatsu, J (2007). Hammer acceleration due to the thrower and hammer movement patterns. Sports Biomechanics, 6 (3), 301-314. Panoutsakopoulos, V. (2006). Biomechanical Analysis of the men’s hammer throw in the Athens 2006 I.A.A.F. World Cup in Atheltics. Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece. Samozvetov, A. (1980). The acceleration of the hammer. Legkaya Athletika, 11, 18-20.

Tschiene, P. (1977). New Elements in the technique of the hammer throw. Leichtahletik, 16. Woicik, M. (1980). The hammer throw. Track & Field Quarterly Review, 80, 23-26.

Dr. Andreas Maheras is the throws coach at Fort Hayes State University in Kansas and is a frequent contributor to techniques.

34 techniques NOVEMBER 2016



A Basic Framework For Coaching The Event David Granato


his article is intended to be an overview of the annual planning process used to develop steeplechasers. The system is used by steeplechasers at Adams State University, including 7 time NCAA Division II National Champion, and 8:26 steeplechaser Tabor Stevens, as well as 9 time NCAA Division II National Champion and 9:48 steeplechaser Alicia Nelson. While we will not be discussing the specific workouts of these elite athletes much, we will outline a process that has proven effective and can be adopted by coaches of any athlete interested in competing in the event. It is important, when creating an annual plan for the coach, or the more experienced athlete and the coach together, to sit down and sketch out a rough plan for key and peak races over the next season or year. For the collegiate athlete, this process is simplified, because the dates of conference and national championships are already set, and the other pieces can be fitted in appropriately. From these key and peaking races, the coach and athlete should work backwards, filling in other races, and arranging the training as necessary, in order to peak at the appropriate time.

Establishing a Steeplechase Development Philosophy Steeplechase is, as Chick Hislop of Weber State says, a distance hurdle event. The annual training methodology should be consistent with this philosophy. The two biggest determining factors in steeple success are: flat running fitness, and hurdle efficiency. While flat running fitness is important, an athlete who is much more efficient over the hurdles will beat

Adams State Sports Info photo

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Steeplechase 101 an athlete of the same fitness, or, an athlete that is slower in the flat 3k, can run close to, or even beat a faster flat runner, with superior hurdle efficiency. David Martin and Peter Coe, in their book Better Training for Distance Runners, outline what it takes to be successful in the steeplechase; “The speed-strength of a quality middle-distance runner and the endurance of a quality long-distance runner need be combined with welldeveloped hurdling abilities.� Conventional wisdom says that the steeplechase will be 40 seconds slower than the flat 3k. The average difference for the top 20 women in Div I and the top 10 in Div II, based on the 2017 TFRRS list is 31 seconds. The average difference for the same number and distribution of men, based on the 2017 TFRRS list is 33 seconds. In his article, Steeplechase Technique, Hislop says that a welltrained steeplechaser’s time should only be 20 seconds slower than the flat 3k.

The Long Run

Figure 1

Figure 2


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As with any distance race, the long run is an integral part of year round training. At Adams State, our long run is at least five times the race distance, 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), and up to 25 kilometers (15.53 miles) during the track season. During Cross country season, depending on the developmental stage of the runner, this could be even longer. As with everything else, we will vary intensity and volume over the course of the year and over the course of the season. Starting in the prep phase , the volume will be increased. After the first four week mesoocycle, intensity is slowly increased every second or third week. A 9:00 steepler will start running at 70% of their race effort, 12:52 per 3k, which works out to 6:54 per mile. After a few weeks of increasing volume, at the intensity, they will take a down a week, before returning to the previous volume, but at an increased intensity. In the second or third mesocycle, they will run 75% of their race effort, 12:00 per 3k, which is 6:26 per mile. This is increased again,

moving into the final mesocycles of the season, to 80% effort, 11:15 per 3k, or 6:02 per mile. For a 10:00 steepler, they will start running at 70% of their race effort, 14:17 per 3k, which is 7:39 per mile, increasing to 75% of their race effort, 13:20 per 3k, 7:09 per mile and then increased again to 80% effort, 12:30 per 3k, 6:42 per mile. Again, it is important to mention that these paces are based on the specific capabilities of the individual athlete and are not intended to be etched in stone performance markers for everyone. The important takeaway is the percentage of maximal effort. These faster efforts, once achieved, are not repeated every week, but used as part of the interplay between volume and intensity over the course of the season. Figure 1 illustrates the theoretical variations in volume and intensity over the course of a season. As you can see, intensity generally trends upward, while volume generally trends downward, however there is variation within the mesocycles, and from season to season.

The Yearly Plan The design of the yearly plan is based on building on previous work done and each block is arranged to achieve a specific adaptation. The goal of course is having the best performance at the championship meet that was identified at the beginning of the year as being the most important. This building process is based on week to week, month to month, season to season, and year to year progressions.

Timeline: Summer Training During the summer training phase that follows the break at the end of the outdoor season, mileage is increased in a stepwise fashion. After the weekly mileage reaches a certain point, it stays about the same, with some variation and a step down every fourth week. This pattern is maintained all year, with additional step downs for competition weeks and during the peaking phase. Intensity is then introduced in the same stepwise fashion. During the summer training phase, intensity is

introduced through continuous aerobic runs, increasing the intensity of the long runs, and other regular runs, and unstructured interval runs or fartleks. (see Figure 2) During the summer, we will have prescribed supplementary work two to three times per week with all of our athletes. This supplementary work consists of form drills, mobility work, and hurdle drills. Typically we will do this in place of a secondary run with the activity taking about the same amount of time. The purpose of this work is to activate the glutes and hamstrings, exaggerate the running form, in order to strengthen outside the typical range of motion, and reduce ground contact time. It also increases dynamic mobility, proprioception, and connective tissue strength. This is done more often with our lower mileage athletes, younger athletes,

middle distance runners, and steeplechase specialists, and less often by our higher mileage athletes, older athletes, and long distance runners, although there are times when they still use and benefit from these drills. This work, while beneficial for all runners, also lays the foundation for the more specific steeple work to come.

Cross Country During the Cross Country season, we will progress the work started in the summer, with mileage undulating over the course of the season, but slowly decreasing, while intensity continues to increase, in an undulating fashion. During the Cross Country season the athlete will run 8k and 10k races for males, or 5k and 6k races for females. The focus will be on developing aerobically, lactate threshold runs, energy sysFEBRUARY 2018 techniques


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Figure 3

tem work at 90%-105% of VO2 max, and towards the end of the season we will begin to introduce neuromuscular system work at approximately 1500 meter race pace.

Indoor Track With the conclusion of Cross Country, the athletes are given a period of active rest. Following this break, we will begin the process of introducing more specific steeple work. Typically this work will seek to increase hip mobility, so that the steeplechase athlete can more effectively put their body into the positions required. We also start by breaking the hurdling into smaller skills and focusing on those skills one by one before putting them together. This skill breakdown is comprised mainly of wall drills, trail leg practice, and hurdle walk overs. Hurdle 38

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walk overs are performed straight over the hurdles, one leg at a time, laterally over the hurdles, either facing the same way or alternating directions, or alternating over and under the hurdles. To perform wall drills, a hurdle is placed against the wall at steeple height. The athlete will take a two or three step approach, and lunge with their lead leg into the wall, putting their foot above the hurdle barrier. This is repeated several times with each leg. To perform trail leg practice, two hurdles are placed about one meter apart, one in front of the other, at steeple height. The athlete holds the front hurdle for balance, and repeatedly brings their trail leg over the back hurdle. The progression of this is the ten meter hurdle drill. Hurdles are placed ten meters apart, and the athlete will run alongside

them, going over them only with the trail leg. You can start with two or three hurdles, and progressively increase the number of hurdles. Hurdle walk over/unders are just that. They are performed either by walking over every hurdle, taking lateral steps over the hurdles, or placing the hurdles alternately at the highest and lowest height, and walking over and under them. It is important that the coach carefully observe these drills and exercises, and make corrections as needed, so the athlete can build good motor patterns. When the steeplechase athlete is compared to the 400 hurdler going over the barrier, the upper body will not lean forward as much, and the arms are not utilized as much. The trail leg will not be as far to the side, but it should not be directly under the hips. If the trail leg is directly under the hips, this forces the athlete’s center of gravity to be higher over the hurdles. This higher center of gravity not only requires more effort to achieve, but results in a higher and steeper parabola over the barrier. This, in turn, reduces momentum, and requires the athlete to accelerate after each barrier. A less drastic parabola is easier to produce, and results in less momentum loss over each barrier. It is best to learn to lead with either leg, rather than focusing on leading with one leg. The steeple is different than the high or intermediate hurdles, in that the athlete will not be counting steps between the barriers and thus will not know which leg they will be leading with. One of the biggest killers of momentum, and thereby efficiency, is stut-

Adams State Sports Info photo

ter stepping to lead with a preferred leg. This will cause a slowdown, rather than an acceleration or maintenance of speed leading into the barrier, which makes the barrier harder to clear, and the athlete will have to re-accelerate much more upon landing to regain the pace. Repeat this thirty five times, including the seven water jumps and you can see the effect. To maximize efficiency, the athlete must be able to comfortably, and without hesitation, lead with either leg over the barrier. Once these basic skills are mastered, we will start introducing active hurdling. On the grass infield of the track, we will set up four hurdles, in two lines of two. The first line faces one way; the second line faces the opposite direction. In this way, the coach can stand at end, watching the hurdles and providing feedback as needed. The athlete is able to hurdle two barriers and then stop, turn around, and hurdle twice more in the opposite direction. (See Figure 3) In this period, we are looking more for motor learning adaptations, rather than energy system adaptations, so the work should not be too time consuming or difficult. Typically it is done in the evening, following practice or whenever the athlete has free time outside of practice. At the start of the second semester, we will increase the amount of time, the frequency, and the number of contacts over the hurdles. During indoor track, the athletes will run a variety of races, typically from 1500-5000. This depends on the type of steeplechase athlete they are, what they want to focus on, what they will most benefit from, and often times the needs of the team at championship meets. We do not look to peak during indoor track, rather we use it a prelude to the outdoor track season.

Outdoor Track When the outdoor season begins, we progress the specific hurdle work, with the introduction of hurdles in workouts, and beginning to utilize water jumps. At first, we will introduce hurdle work slowly, and independently. For example the athlete will run the same workout as the other 1500-5k runners, but occasionally they will have to hurdle for certain reps or sets within the workout. As they

grow more confident, and are able to handle the workload with the introduction of hurdles, we increase the number and frequency of hurdles in a given workout. The athletes will use hurdles during practice rather than the actual barriers in order to reduce the risk of injury. By this point in the training program, the expectation should be that hurdle form is technically sound and the athlete should only need occasional corrections from the coach. It is important, once the basic hurdling skills are mastered, for the athlete to practice hurdling in a crowd. We will have our steeplechasers run their workout with other runners, and have hurdles set up in lane two or three at the proper marked locations around the track. As the group circles the track during their intervals, the steeplechasers will move out into the outside lanes to clear the hurdles, while the other runners stay in lane one. This effectively simulates race conditions, allows the team to work together, and provides practice hurdling in a crowd at speed. Athletes should practice running over barriers at the desired goal pace. For instance, if 8:30 – 8:45 is a goal pace, the athlete should run over barriers running 68 – 70s / lap pace. In order to improve efficiency over the barriers, the athlete must practice hurdling over the barriers efficiently. Hurdling should be done with a focus on getting over them as economically as possible, rather than as fast as possible. To practice the water jump, we will set up a barrier in front of the long jump/ triple jump pit. This creates a soft surface on impact, and we can draw lines in the sand as targets for the athletes. This allows us to teach the athlete how far they need to jump in order to clear as much of the water as possible, teaching them to jump ‘out’ rather than ‘up’. There is such a thing as practicing too much. Many athletes will want to practice over and over, because they lack confidence in their abilities. It is important for the coach to be in control of practice, carefully prescribing a specific number of touches, the way you would prescribe mileage or reps, and stick to it. The coach should make sure each hurdle, or water barrier practice counts, and

when they are done, they are done. During the outdoor season, the steepler will typically include two to three steeple races during the regular season, one or two 1500’s, potentially a 5k depending on the development and goals of the athlete, and then the championship segment of the season.

Conclusion The steeplechase is one of the most demanding events in track and field and while proper planning is important in every event, it is perhaps even more critical in the steeple. The technical complexity of the event coupled with the physiological demands dictate that every aspect of the athlete’s training must be well thought out. Setting up and executing a well-conceived annual training plan will certainly not guarantee success and my not lead your athlete(s) to multiple national championships, but it will set them up with their best opportunity to realize their potential in the event.

References Figures 1 and 2 from; Bompa, T. O., & Buzzichelli, C. A. (2015). Periodization training for sports (3rd ed.). Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics. Quotation from: Martin, D. E., & Coe, P. N. (1997). Better training for distance runners (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Steeplechase Technique - Chick Hislop - Weber State

David Granato is an assistant track and field and cross country coach as well as Recruiting Coordinator at Adams State University.

Photo 1


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Tufts Sports info photo

Running with Circles Optimizing the rotational movements of the core Sam Wuest


n the eastern concept of the body, there is a point called the “dantian,” loosely translated to energy center. This point is located in the lower abdomen (roughly between the navel and sacrum), and is commonly considered almost a battery of energy for the human body. While this nuanced function of the dantian (that I will leave grossly simplified for the purposes of this article) is important for medicine and the internal workings of the organs and other aspects of a living, breathing, human, it is also commonly referenced in the eastern martial arts, where this central point of the human body is recognized as a vital source of both efficiency and power production. Tiny movements made at the core of the body, when coordinated and timed correctly, can create extremely high amounts of force at the extremities by taking advantage of the elastic myofascial chains that run from the center to the ends of the body. This highly coordinated skill is why a movement such as tai chi (the martial art, not the exercise-for-oldfolks version that has made its way into

mainstream culture) was traditionally practiced so slowly – slowing it down was the only way a practitioner could feel the small, ripple like movements created in the pelvis and spine. Why bring this topic up in Techniques? Because the athletes we see winning races every year are moving the same way, across all events. (See photo 1) We as human beings like to overemphasize and oversimplify. We create models based on our limited 21st century perception of how the body works, and apply them daily. Having key performance indicators and having a general technical model that you are teaching is good coaching practice. However, problems arise when we forget that our models do not reflect reality, at least not as accurately as reality reflects reality. To illustrate this point, I’d like you to play along with me for a moment and draw for me an ideal first stride out of the blocks for a 100m sprinter, at the point where the front foot leaves the pedal. Go ahead, actually draw it. I would wager the finished product

looks something like this:

Now, let’s think critically here – firstly, what are we missing? Skin and hair of course, but I mean particularly, do we even have all of the joints here? I had the opportunity to leaf through a high jump textbook written by Valeriy Brumel a few years ago and the first thing that I noticed (apart from the sinking feeling upon knowing how long it would take to translate into English) was that the stick figures that he drew in order to explain technical points looked different. I no longer have it in my possession, but they FEBRUARY 2018 techniques



Photo 2: Free hip higher and in front of the stance hip produces more force

all included a shoulder and hip axis (as well as feet). The fact that he added these axes is very important, and shows the value the former record holder places upon them. The leg does not attach to the spine, and to create technical models that revolve around that idea is to miss an entire joint in which we impart force to the ground. That is ultimately what this article is about: expanding the current technical models to include the small but crucial movements of the pelvis and spine, especially in the underappreciated frontal and transverse planes. This article is not saying that we need to discard any current knowledge, we are still striking the ground at the same angles to our center of mass, we are still keeping “good” posture, we are just acknowledging that the pelvis and spine can, and do, move, and elaborating on how that is vital to both our ability to be efficient and our ability to produce force on the track itself. (See photo 2)

What does the pelvis do when running? In short, it oscillates. Dynamically revolving around a neutral position, the pelvis rotates in the transverse (rotational) plane around a central axis like a wheel turning back and forth, with the spoke of the wheel being the pelvis’ center (similar to the dantian mentioned 42

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earlier). In the sagittal plane (viewing an athlete from the side), the pelvis transitions from positions of slight anterior and posterior tilt relative to the rest of the torso. This movement should be controlled, but not eliminated, a core braced so tightly that it cannot tilt at all would never win a race at any level, and should not be a desired outcome. Further in the sagittal plane, the pelvis even tilts relative to itself in healthy humans (with one side of the ilium tilting forwards and the other tilting backwards), as the pelvis made of several bones connected by elastic elements can and should be able to move in order to aid shock absorption from the ground and transfer elasticity. In the frontal plane, you see the pelvis again rotating like a wheel, back and forth with the free side of the pelvis rising above the stance side as an athlete finishes pushing off on the ground. Hip-knee-ankle triple extension is not sufficient to load the tissues elastically and create force the way nature intended us to, we must rethink this. Quadruple or quintuple extension doesn’t have quite the same ring, but it is actually much more accurate. (See photo 3)

Why does the pelvis do this? You need to get your athletes to move their hips for two main reasons. Optimal

Photo 3: The free hip is raised as the free side shoulder drops, engaging the latissimus dorsi in the pushoff mechanism and creating a “long side” and “short side” of the body when viewed in the frontal plane. The lat attaches to the contralateral glute via the thoracolumbar fascia; these two muscles work well together – you can see the serape effect by looking at the creasing in the runner’s shirt, traveling from the right shoulder, through the right lat and into the left glute. pelvic oscillations create a longer lever arm on the push-off mechanism during running and also create more optimal stretch reflexes and muscle sequencing. The first reason is quite simple. By adding an extra joint in which you can apply force, you can apply more force. The athlete has a greater windup without taking any extra time. Learning to use one’s pelvis when running is effectively gaining longer legs. Athletes that use their pelvis well when running look more fluid and run faster. They beat you and they make it look easy. Longer levers lead to more speed at the end of those levers when their origin is moving at the same speed. Test it out. Try kicking a soccer ball while locking your pelvis in place, completely square to the direction you are kicking so that you cannot use forces in the transverse (rotational) plane. See how far it goes. Next, try relaxing it and swinging your kicking hip through the ball as you strike. I’m willing to bet that the second scenario both felt easier and that the ball went further. By engaging an extra joint, you effectively Tufts Sports info photos


Photo 4 Moving with a “tight core,” trying to reduce pelvic oscillation.

Photo 5: Engaging the core dynamically.

made the lever that is your “leg” longer, so the end of that lever (your foot) was moving with greater velocity, so the ball was accelerated with greater velocity, so the ball traveled a greater distance. It is important to keep in mind that we


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are not talking about overstriding and sticking one’s foot way out in front, the athlete’s thighs still are in the same position at footstrike, we are simply applying force through a longer lever. (See photos 4 & 5)

Gaining more than 1 foot per stride without sacrificing frequency is a huge deal in any event. That’s the equivalent of opening up a 15 meter gap in a 100m on your old self. The second reason is not quite as simple. The body was designed to be incredibly efficient during gait. While walking, running, and sprinting, we use our elastic stretch reflexes all the time both to save energy and produce greater power. When the hip extensors contract, the leg goes behind the body and a stretch reflex is produced in the hip flexors that aid hip flexion, and we walk on. Most people know this much. However, there is a lot of elasticity that falls by the wayside if an athlete does not learn to rotate their pelvis, counterrotate their shoulders, and let each side of the pelvis rise and fall in a synchronized pattern. The stretch reflexes in the core are so powerful that some biomechanists have even asserted that are legs are unnecessary for gait, in the sense that in a lab where the only the muscles located on the abdomen were used one could still replicate human walking. There are strips of fascia criss-crossing the abdomen, shaping an “x”, that are stretched and recoil to cause the knee to move forward after the hip is extended during pushoff (Earls). This is commonly referred to as the serape effect, as the x’s resemble the traditional Mexican clothing. If no rotation occurs between the ribcage and pelvis, if they are “stuck” and don’t move freely relative to each other, then we lose this potential elastic energy. Physicist Serge Gracovetsky, inventor of the spinal engine theory, believed that the spine itself and the fascial tensioning caused by the counterrotations of the pelvic and shoulder girdles work like winding and unwinding a spring. He states that “The lower extremity can be completely removed without interfering with the primary movement of the pelvis…it is obviously preferable to have legs, but they only amplify the movements of the pelvis, and their functional role remains secondary.” (Gracovetsky) The stretch reflex generated in the core is amplified

Tufts Sports info photos


Photo 6 & 7: A textbook example of movements in the frontal and rotational planes on this short approach scissor jump.

to the outer limbs of the body, making all locomoting movements more efficient and elastic. (See photos 6 & 7)

Event specific examples Sprints: look for large ROM in the frontal plane to assist in generating force to overcome inertia in the first few steps out of blocks Top Speed, Mid D, & Distance: look for movements in the frontal plane to assist in a “bounciness” of stride, while the counterrotation of shoulders and hips 46

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helps to again increase stride length without overstriding Hurdling Events: much the same as other coaching points for hurdles, going over the hurdle should be as much like a run as is possible. The pelvic undulations in the frontal plane are hugely important both for establishing good running off of the hurdle and also for clearance. Greater range of motion bringing the free side of the pelvis up towards the armpit as the trail leg passes through makes the hurdle easier to clear, as well as giving the trail

leg more range of motion through which to apply force before it hits the ground. The rotational oppositions of the shoulder and hip axes are of major concern in creating balance over the hurdle to allow for smooth running off of them. The trail leg hip must come over and in front of the lead leg hip prior to the lead leg touching down. Over-focusing on foot quickness during hurdle drills leads some athletes to keep their hips too stiff to clear and run off of hurdles smoothly. You’ll find most of your beginner and high school level athletes that tend to use 4 steps in between hurdles are not getting their trail leg hip above and past their lead leg hip prior to touchdown, or even at all. This range of motion is essential for speed in the 100/110’s and for speed and efficiency in the 400’s, where maintaining stride length, rhythm and fluidity are essential for success. High Jump: I firmly believe that the most underrated, and perhaps even most important reason why the Fosbury Flop is the sole high jump technique employed today on the international level is that it engages the frontal plane in ways which no other technique can. All great one legged jumpers in basketball (consciously or not) use a slightly curved approach to lower their center of mass prior to takeoff and also in order to engage the elastic components of the lateral hip more fully. Watch videos of Michael Jordan (or Zach Lavine for the younger folks) jumping from the free throw line to see what I’m talking about. There is a clear isometric preloading and eccentric phase of a one footed takeoff in which the swing hip dips below the takeoff hip before rising above the takeoff hip as the athlete leaves the ground, creating a takeoff position where the shoulders are level but the free side of the pelvis is markedly higher than the stance side (see example pictures above). This gives the athletes considerably more range of motion upon which they can apply force without sacrificing horizontal velocity. Without this movement occurring the athlete will not be able to convert their curved approach to Tufts Sports info photos

RUNNING WITH CIRCLES increased takeoff. Long Jump: The body must shift its center of mass in the frontal plane so that it is more on top of the takeoff leg than a regular sprint stride would be in order to exaggerate the elastic loading of the takeoff leg. As a side note, and I am not advising anyone to start coaching this, I believe that Mike Powell’s wide, stepping out penultimate step was a big part of his ability to jump 8.95 meters. It gives him a slightly larger frontal and transverse range of motion for the right side of his pelvis to swing up and through during takeoff because it begins its arc slightly off to the side of his center of mass. Again, not trying to change a technical model here, just a thought on why his style seemed to work so well for him. Triple Jump: the second and third phases of the triple jump are probably the easiest place to see the most obvious lateral and rotational movements of any non-throwing, linear event in track, apart from perhaps hurdles. Good bounding technique will result in the athlete looking “wound up” prior to contacting the ground, with the hip on the side about to strike higher and farther out in front than the other hip. This is essential and creates a longer lever arm from which to hit the ground and a longer arc for the swinging segments. The shoulder on the side of the raised knee, pre-contact, will actually be dipping in relation to the opposite side shoulder both in order to counter the frontal plane movement of the hips and because the center of mass should be more over the leg in regards to the frontal plane than it needs to be in running, in order to load elastic components particularly in the frontal plane. *Certain athletes (such as Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, among others) will appear to be internally rotating at the hip socket while coming out of blocks, but this is primarily due to the rotation and hiking of the free side of the pelvis bringing their knee to the midline, not relative internal or external rotation of the hip to the pelvis. (See Chart 1)

Drills, Cueing & Training Implications I should start this section by saying that I don’t teach movements in different planes separately, I am simply writing 48

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a separate article to emphasize some areas that aren’t talked about enough in my opinion. Training Implications: All athletes MUST train in all three planes of motion. In addition to going forward and backward (traditional training, if you will) they need to do lateral and rotational movements. Do I have my athletes sprinting sideways and squatting with one side of the barbell loaded? No. But we are including lateral and rotational movements in pretty much every multi jump, medicine ball, general strength, and restorative lift circuit. We’ll even throw in more advanced exercises like rotational hurdle hops from time to time. Too often training in different planes is looked at as optional, it’s necessary for athletes to learn and maintain good movement patterns and stay injury free. Drills: I don’t do any drills separately to teach rotational and side movements, but I will take time to focus on particular movements during a certain exercise. For example, hurdle mobility is a great time to talk to your athletes about raising their free hip, as theoretically the hurdle is already teaching them to do so. Explicitly knowing why that is important, however, increases the likelihood of transfer to their event. Bounding is a great place to talk about movements in the core, as this is the locomotion activity with perhaps the largest pelvic range of motion that I use. Wickets, stick drills, stairs and hills can help athletes further engage their frontal and rotational planes. I will have my athletes do slower “bouncy” strides and single stair runs where they’re mainly focused on the pelvic oscillations mentioned in this article. Variable takeoffs for jumpers in which the athlete puts their antepenultimate, penultimate or takeoff step on a small mat or box (think a couple inches) can help athletes to engage their frontal plane more to improve takeoff mechanics. Most coaches already do a lot of the right things in regards to the frontal and rotational planes, but your average athlete will struggle to pick up a technique unless they have a specific idea of what it is they’re trying to accomplish. While a good training plan is necessary, let’s not forget, coaching is all about communication and skills must be taught.

Cueing: Cueing the frontal and rotational planes is not always separate from other cues. Getting athletes to hit a big split out of the blocks is a great way to encourage frontal plane mechanics, as are postural cues, such as anything related to a neutral pelvis or head, as this will allow the athlete to move safely with their spine and pelvis. A specific cue I will use during bounding is asking athletes to feel themselves winding and unwinding their torso. Another is asking athletes to feel one side of their sidebody (hip à shoulder girdle) shortening while the other side lengthens. Hip up and through is a cue I’ll give more to athletes doing hurdle mobility and possibly wickets, as I’d rather emphasize the application of force into the ground when possible. The same rules of cueing apply here that always apply to our sport, as well. In particular, I think of how many Boo Schexnayder clinics have drilled into my head that things must start well to end well – i.e. bad starting position/ accel mechanics will lead into bad top speed mechanics no matter how well you coach top speed mechanics. In this case, if an athlete starts running with a stiff pelvis and bad posture, they will always display bad or forced pelvic oscillations. The easiest way to get them to engage their frontal and rotational aspects is to get them to do it immediately upon starting, establishing large ranges of motion in the frontal plane. Getting them to focus on sweeping their arms down and back, engaging their shoulder deeply (including the latissimus dorsi) is a good way to cue during acceleration.

Closing Remarks An athlete that runs using their pelvis essentially has an extra joint competing against an athlete who does not. The athlete that runs in such a way that allows the oscillations of the pelvis to aid in power production and elasticity of their run or jump has effectively increased the length of the lever arm of their legs. If two athletes each have 32-inch-inseam-length-legs, to measure as scientifically as possible, and athlete A runs with the pelvis moving in concert with the rest of her body and the athlete B holds her pelvis completely rigid, then athlete A will run with perhaps a

Chart 1

What needs to occur:


Possible inhibitions:

Neutral pelvis

Neutral alignment relative to spine when viewed from the sagittal plane

-Misalignment/mobility restrictions -Inappropriate angles and progressions during acceleration

Transverse rotation of pelvis The swing side of the pelvis will move ahead of the stance side of the pelvis on pushoff

-Spinal/pelvic misalignment -Thoracic spine mobility limitations -Soft tissue restrictions in the core -Strength limitations in core -Failure to establish rotations from first steps – if it starts wrong it ends wrong

Counter rotation of shoulders

As one side of the pelvis moves forward, the contralateral shoulder moves backwards

-Thoracic spine mobility issues -Cervical spine mobility issues (head forward, 21st century texting posture) -Pelvic/spinal misalignment -Faulty arm mechanics

Complementary movement of arms

The arms sweep down and back upon extension, involving the latissimus dorsi on the back as well as the other more commonly thought of shoulder extensors. This balances out and allows for optimal hip extension.

-Shoulder extension range of motion -Lack of coaching -Spinal misalignment -Overcoaching/misguided belief that arms should remain at 90*

Ribcage and pelvis rotate relative to one another

The ribcage and pelvis move separately from one another, -Spinal/pelvic misalignment setting up stretch reflexes in the core that amplify stretch -Thoracic spine mobility limitations reflexes in the limbs as well -Soft tissue restrictions in the core -Strength limitations in core -Failure to establish rotations from first steps

Internal rotation of hip

As the pelvis rotates during pushoff the stance hip (femo- -Spinal/pelvic misalignment ral head) ends up in a small amount of internal rotation -Mobility issues relative to the pelvis*

External rotation of hip

As the pelvis rotates the swing side of the pelvis passes in front of the stance side, the hip will be externally rotated in relation to the pelvis*

-Spinal/pelvic misalignment -Mobility issues

Oscillation of pelvis in the frontal plane

Athletes should contact the ground with the pre-contact side of the pelvis higher than the swing side and instantaneously (due to stretch reflex) raise the swing side of the pelvis higher than the contact side

-Lack of mobility in lower lumbar spine (primarily) area where this side flexion occurs [Earls]) -Inability to set up proper frontal plane oscillations from first few steps leads to later frontal plane problems

Slight lateral shift in COM

Center of mass should shift slightly more over the foot -Lack of dorsiflexion range of motion can lead to about to contact the ground, amplifying stretch reflexes in “skating” side to side, as the athlete cannot effecthe lateral components of the hip tively get their COM over their foot -Lack of coaching -Lack of pelvic oscillations in frontal plane


Running is a cyclic activity – tiny differences in timing and coordination make huge differences down the line

Athletes must find an optimal range of movement for their ability level and for the speed of movement


A certain level of relaxation is necessary for athletes to allow stretch reflexes to fire at appropriate times and not “force” movements

Inadequate preparation for pressure


Mobility and alignment assure smooth, unrestricted movements

“Forced” movements are a good check engine light for something technically or physically non-optimal

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34” length leg to B’s 32”, and that is before one even considers the positive elastic energy contribution of moving and rotating the center of the body. Usain Bolt was the poster child for this. Yes, he’s 6’5” but if what enabled him to run 100m in 41 strides were height, wouldn’t it make sense that the runner who took the next fewest be the next fastest? Asafa Powell, listed at 6’3”, was routinely taking between 45 and 48 strides, and the 6’1” Justin Gatlin takes the next fewest steps at 42.5 during the London final. Almost as tall as Gatlin, Yohan Blake runs similar times hitting 46 strides, so height is clearly not all there is to it – this isn’t racewalk, after all (no disrespect to racewalk, perhaps it isn’t that simple either). All that rocking that Bolt’s upper body did, that “excessive motion,” allowed his pelvis to rotate and move laterally, storing and releasing more energy than any other sprinter in history. Yes, he is tall, but the biggest reason his stride length and top end speed were so far beyond all of his only-2-inches-shorter competitors is because he uses elastic energy and moves his hips better than them. Let’s not forget that the same armchair coaches that have only wanted to talk about height since 2008 were telling us that there was a such thing as “too tall” for a sprinter! I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the coach that took the time to explain this technique to me, Alex Ponomarenko, former Ukrainian Olympic coach currently working at Apex Performance in Acton, MA. I’d also like to thank all the others that have contributed to my understanding of the sport over the years, such as Boo Schexnayder, Jim VanHootegem, and Todd Lane, as well as my fellow coaches and athletes at Tufts who give me the energy and inspiration to become a better coach, as well as head coaches Joel Williams and Russ Brennen who have given me the freedom I have needed to experiment and learn from my mistakes as a young coach. If you want to hear other ideas or contact me with any questions about the article or otherwise, I blog at

REources Earls, James, and Thomas Myers. Born to Walk: Myofascial Efficiency and the Body in Movement. Lotus Publishing, 2014. Gracovetsky, Serge, and A Templier. “The Spine Engine: A Unified Theory of the Spine?”

Sam Wuest is the Men’s jumps and multi event coach at Tufts University. 50

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kirby lee photo

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” – Henry Ford

Creating Confidence The Four Sources of Self-Efficacy Dr. Matthew Buns


he purpose of this article is to provide coaches with a way to coach mental readiness and show why it can be just as crucial as physical readiness. A coach should not have to be a sport psychologist in order to realize how important is to performance to have a mental edge in track and field. In order to be mentally ready to compete and put forth an optimal performance in track and field, athletes must be confident in themselves’ and have a high level of self-esteem. Above this, an athlete must possess something more specific, a high level of self-efficacy. The goal of this article is to describe what the concept of self-efficacy is and how coaches can find sources of it and apply it to his or her athletes. Self-efficacy, in and of itself, has been shown to be a better predictor of performance than just outcome expectations (goal setting) before a performance,

and as good of a predictor as anxiety levels (Gernigon & Dolloye, 2003). It is one of the most important, situation specific, mental aspects that a track and field coach can instill within their athletes.

Operationalizing and Conceptualizing Self-Efficacy Before discussing the sources of selfefficacy in track and field athletes, one must first understand what exactly it is, and how it is set apart from other psychological definitions. Albert Bandura, the founder of the concept, defines selfefficacy as the belief a person has in their ability to complete an objective successfully in order to obtain a specific goal (Bandura, 1977). In other words, someone with high self-efficacy has an unquestionable belief in their ability to go out and do something in order to achieve their goal. It is very specific to the task at hand and

at that time, therefore, in this case it must be very specific to the athlete in regards to their sport of track and field. Upon reading this definition, one might think that it is just another word for selfconfidence, self-esteem, outcome expectations or another interchangeable word. This, however, is not the case. As stated above, self-efficacy is a term that is specifically related to the task at hand. In order to grasp this, some time must be taken to separate it from its would be synonyms. The difference between self-efficacy and self-confidence can be discrete and hard to understand to anyone who is not familiar with the terms, but it is a stark, and important difference that must be understood in order to coach it. Confidence, first and foremost, is a general term about a broad subject. One can be confident in many things, including failure. Someone can be confident about FEBRUARY 2018 techniques


Creating Confidence a lot of things, a track athlete for example may be confident that they are going to run bad and not achieve their goal. Efficacy, however, does not have that possible negative side. It is also specific to the task at hand, whereas confidence may spill over to many different areas of life, not focusing on a single event. The most important thing to take away from the difference between the two is that confidence allows room for failure, but a person with high self-efficacy believes they will go out and succeed in their task no matter what (Bandura, 1997). A difference must also be established between self-efficacy and self-esteem. Once again, this focusses around the specificity that is self-efficacy. Selfesteem, essentially, is a value of selfworth. It can apply to a lot of different areas in one’s life, all of which may never cross over and effect the other. For instance, a track and field athlete may have high self-esteem in the classroom and in their social life, but may still not care and perform poorly on the track without affecting that self-esteem. Selfefficacy, once again, deals solely with the task at hand; and cannot cross over to other areas. As evidence for this, Sherer and Madux (1982) found in their study that there was actually a negative correlation between self-esteem and self-efficacy within the athletes that they tested. One final distinction must be made in terms of defining self-efficacy, and that is the difference between it and outcome-expectancy. This difference can be understood by looking at the one as half of an equation, and the other as the entire equation. Outcome expectancy is the belief that if you perform something a certain way, then the outcome will be a certain way resulting from that performance. Self-efficacy, on the other hand, is the conviction that one can do that performance successfully, and that the successful performance will yield a favorable result. It is essentially outcome-expectancy, plus the part that has to happen before it; and the belief that the outcome will be positive no matter what (Gernigon et al., 2003).

Sources of Self-Efficacy Now that self-efficacy has been defined and set apart from anything else, the


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major questions and main focus of this article can be addressed. How does a coach find sources of self-efficacy, and how does he or she coach and instill it within their athlete? As it is, there are four main sources of self-efficacy: mastery experience, modeling, social persuasion, and physiological factors (Bandura, 1977).

Mastery/Past Performance Mastery experience, or an accomplishment in a past performance, is the first source of self-efficacy in an athlete. It is also the most powerful source of high self-efficacy in an athlete, as it is driven by themselves (Bandura, 1977). Simply put, “success breeds success”. The successful completion of a task will raise future selfefficacy, and likewise, the unsuccessful completion will lower it. This has to do with mental processing that occurs when one has completed a task once. “People process, weigh and integrate diverse sources of information concerning their capabilities. They then regulate their choice behavior and effort expenditure on the basis of the perceived self-efficacy” (Bandura, Adams & Beyer, 1977). In other words, a completed successful task can influence the amount of effort and success in a future task. With this in mind, completion of these successful tasks, however, cannot be an easy, repetitive feat. In a study done on swimmers, there was a negative correlation between high self-efficacy levels and motivation to complete tasks when the goals being set were too low (Miller, 1993). In order to keep motivation at a high level and promote continually increasing levels of self-efficacy, one must keep the goals and tasks at a high level. The coach’s role in this source of selfefficacy is to provide this opportunity for the athlete. In track and field specifically, this can be done in many ways. The first, and most obvious way is with prior competition. A good way to start this is to set an athlete up in an event at a low key meet, and breed the environment for success. Success in small meets like this will build efficacy for larger meets in the future. Consistently reminding the athlete of these past performances is also a key role of the coach. Another way to build efficacy through mastery experience is at practice.

Specifically with distance runners, this can be done through workouts. In one of the most widely used training systems in the country, interval workouts are done as a primary workout for the week and are done at a pace to build VO2 max, which is essentially 5K race pace. An example workout of this would break down to 8x1000 meters at 5K race pace with short jogs in between (Daniels, 2005). This is an extremely challenging and taxing workout, but it is a pace that should be what an athlete can run for a 5K. They can draw on the mastery experience of completing this workout to build self-efficacy for a future race. Likewise for jumpers and throwers, mastery experience can easily be simulated at practice. Unlike distance athletes, a lot of their practice can be simulating meet day actions. Thus, completion of a certain distance or mark at practice can provide mastery experience for them. Once again, making the athlete aware of this source is just as important as the coach realizing it themselves.

Modeling/Vicarious Experience The next source of self-efficacy is modeling, or vicarious experience. This is basically mastery experience, except through watching another person. This is especially important with less experienced athletes, as they will often use the success and judgment of others to validate their own success (Gernigon, et al., 2003). Watching others complete a task successfully will increase an athlete’s own selfefficacy, and watching others fail at a task will likewise lower self-efficacy (Madux, 1995). Self-modeling, or observing one’s self perform successfully repeated times, has also been shown to increase self-efficacy and performance in sports such as hockey (Feltz, Short & Singlton, 2008). Once again, the role of the coach in this source of self-efficacy is to provide the opportunity to the athlete. Modeling, specifically self-modeling, can be extremely helpful with increasing an athlete’s selfefficacy when it comes to running with proper form. Watching and critiquing video of one’s self and others running properly will lead to the belief that they can continuously do it properly. This source of self-efficacy is, however, probably best used in more technical events, such as jumping and throwing. Watching

Creating Confidence

others perform the complicated movement sequences and the successful performances that result with the successful completion of the movements can enhance the athlete’s self-efficacy about performing the same task. As a coach, one can provide this by bringing a video tape to track meets, having an athlete watch a more skilled teammate perform, or simply by directing them to videos and coverage of professional events. However, it is best to keep modeling within the same level of competition, as past studies have shown that the modeling source is most effective when used with athletes with similarities to the athlete in question (Weiss, McCullagh, Smith & Berlant, 1998).

Social Persuasion The third source of self-efficacy, social persuasion, is the verbal encouragement from another. This source most often


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directly comes from the coach. Although it can come from another athlete or parent, the strength of social persuasion as an effective booster of self-efficacy depends on “the prestige, credibility, expertise and trustworthiness of the persuader” (Gernigon et al., 2003). On most teams, hopefully, that persuader is indeed the coach. One must tread carefully when using this source however, as Bandura (1977) explains that negative effects on self-efficacy from verbal persuasions have more of an impact and a quicker impact on an athlete than positive effects do. Therefore, it is essential to be consistent with positive feedback, as one negative verbal comment could potentially have a larger effect on an athlete’s self-efficacy than a stream of positive persuasion. Verbal persuasion from a coach must be sincere and believable, as well. “Persuaders must cultivate people’s

beliefs in their capabilities while at the same time ensuring that the envisioned success is attainable” (Pajares, 1997). It is just as important to be realistic with athletes as it is to be positively persuasive, as unrealistic goals and persuasions will ultimately lead to failure in the goal, thereby reducing self-efficacy through negative mastery experience, which as discussed earlier, is the most powerful source of self-efficacy. In the sport of track and field, verbal persuasion is very similar to any other sport. The easiest way to do this is to remind the athlete of the other two previously mentioned sources of self-efficacy. Use the evidence. Remind them of what they have done because as stated before, previous mastery experience is the most powerful source of self-efficacy, and reinforcing this through verbal persuasion will only make them all the more strong mentally. It is once again important to

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Creating Confidence use this realistically, however, and this can be done through setting realistic goal times in races, marks in throws and jumps, etc.

Physiological Interpretation The last source of self-efficacy, but certainly not the least important, is that of physiological factors. Simply stated, this has to do with the athletes’ perceptions of the physiological effects associated with exercise and exertion, such as nervousness, aches and pains, exhaustion, etc., on how they will affect their performance. These factors can have an effect on an athlete’s perceived self-efficacy depending on their current emotional state. A person with high self-efficacy will view these at face value: an effect of exercise; whereas a person with low self-efficacy will think more into and let these physical signs be viewed as a sign that they cannot complete the task (Bandura, 1997).

Self-Efficacy and Fatigue It is the coach’s job to get the athlete to a point where he or she will view these physiological factors positively, and even be able to apply them to a better performance. There are several studies that demonstrate the possibility of performing well and overcoming physiological perceptions during negative physiological effects. A main focus for distance runners centers around the central nervous system. Tim Noakes has been at the forefront of this research. His research supports the idea that the central nervous system plays a large role in regulating exercise output. This research has formed his professional stance against the “peripheral fatigue model” presented by A.V. Hill in 1923, saying that the central nervous system is the principle limiting factor in performance (Noakes, T. D., 2011). He established the “central governor model”, which revolves around the idea that when oxygenation of the heart, brain and other organs reaches a dangerous level, the brain will begin to shut down systems (muscles and heart work output, etc.) in order to terminate the effort (Noakes, 2002). However, with mental training and experience, and in certain situations, this limiting factor can be overridden. This helps to explain many situations that cannot be fully understood with the idea that 58

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metabolic and peripheral fatigue are the only limiting factors. An example of this would be how at the end of an “all-out” endurance effort, runners have the ability to have a “finishing kick” at the end even though they are metabolically depleted and have been slowing down throughout the effort. A coach who realizes this can teach their athlete that the brain will try to terminate a run long before the body has exhausted the ability to perform, and the athlete who competes with this in mind will have a higher level of self-efficacy when these factors set in, leading to a more successful performance. A second example of how physiological factors can be used as a source of selfefficacy can be applied specifically to more explosive events. This has to do with the term “post activation potential” (PAP). Physiologically defined, PAP is a phenomenon that involves increased muscle performance output during a short time frame (less than 4min) after a high intensity warm up. It is an interesting phenomenon due to the fact that common sense would make one think that one would be tired and not perform as well after an initial, high intensity activity. However, several studies have shown this not to be the case in many instances. According to DeRenne (2010), there are two main physiological mechanisms that are responsible for this. The first one involves the high intensity warm-up increasing phosphorylation of light chain myosin in the muscle, thereby increasing cross bridge rate within the muscle. The second involves increasing the activity in the spinal cord between afferent and alpha motor neurons. The combination of these two factors results in PAP (DeRenne, 2010). Gerasimos Terzis et al. (2009) conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of PAP on shot put by using drop jumps as a warm-up. After an intense warm-up of several drop jumps, a significant increase in throwing distance was noted in male throwers. Rixon (2007) conducted another study with jumping using a PAP eliciting warm-up. He found that after a maximal isometric squat warm-up, jump height was significantly higher in athletes compared to not using this type of warm-up. This odd phenomenon is further proof that what an athlete is feeling physically is not the ultimate determinant of performance, as in this case; an exhaustive style

of warm-up elicited unseen physiological characteristics that actually improved performance. A coach’s job, once again is to show the athlete that these things are possible, and boost their self-efficacy through knowledge, education and practice of such things.

Conclusion These four sources are the best and most proven ways to coach self-efficacy in athletes. However, learning how to coach self-efficacy begins by understanding what it really is. It is imperative to understand how self-efficacy is separate from self-confidence, self-esteem and outcome expectancies, as they are not the same thing and often do not go hand in hand. One word that should come to mind when trying to define self-efficacy is specific. It is specific to the situation, and in this case, the performance in a track and field event. Upon understanding self-efficacy, it is important for a coach to realize where its sources can be found and how they can be used. Every source begins with the coach instilling it within the athlete and helping him or her to realize exactly what they are. Opportunities for mastery experience and vicarious modeling should be provided by the coach in order to promote an environment for success. Verbal persuasion means the most when it is coming from the person on the team with the most prestige and influence: the coach. And the complexities of physiological factors and how to use them to an advantage must be understood and explained in order for the athlete to take full advantage of them in a situation, and for them to approach them from a view of high self-efficacy. As stated before, self-efficacy levels are an extremely reliable predictor or future performance. It is crucial to coach a mental edge in athletes because as stated earlier with physiological factors, mental factors can overrule physical ones. Coaching athletes, especially track and field athletes, cannot end with physically preparing them; a strong mental state of self-efficacy must accompany them in order to achieve the highest, optimal performance.

References Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a

unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84 (2), 191-215. Bandura, A., Adams, N., & Beyer, J. (1977). Cognitive processes mediating behavioral change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (3), 125-139. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman. Daniels, J. (2005). Daniels’ running formula. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. DeRenne, C. (2010). Effects of postactivation potentiation warm-up in male and female sport performances: a brief review. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32 (6), 58-64. Feltz, D.L., Short, S.E., & Singleton, D.A. (2008). The effect of self-modeling on shooting performance and self-efficacy with intercollegiate hockey players. In M.P Simmons & L.P. Foster (Eds.), Sport and exercise psychology research advances (pp. 9-18). New York: Nova Science Publishers. Gernigon, C. & Delloye, J. (2003). Selfefficacy, causal attribution, and track athletic performance following unexpected success or failure among elite sprinters. The Sport Psychologist, 17 (1), 55-76. Madux, J.E. (1995). Self-efficacy theory:

An introduction. In J.E. Maddux (Ed.), Self-efficacy, adaptation and adjustment: Theory, research and application (pp. 3-33). New York: Plenum. Miller, M. (1993). Efficacy strength and performance in competitive swimmers of different skill levels. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 24, 284-296. Noakes, T. (2002). Lore of running: 4th ed. Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press. Noakes, T.D. (2011). Time to move beyond the brainless exercise physiology: The evidence for complex regulation of human exercise performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 36 (1), 23-35. Pajares, F. (1997) Current directions in self-efficacy research. In M.Maehr & Pr.R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (pp. 1-49). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Rixon, K. P, Lamont, H. S., & Bemben, M. G. (2007). Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(2), 500-505.

Sherer, M., Maddux, J. (1982). The selfefficacy scale: Construction and validation. Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671. Smith, D. & Bar-Eli, M. (Eds). (2007). Essential readings in sport and exercise psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Weiss, M.R., McCullagh, P., Smith, A.L., & Berlant, A.R. (1998). Observational learning and the fearful child: Influence of peer models on swimming skill performance and psychological responses. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 69, 380394.

Dr. Matthew Buns is an assistant cross country and track and feld Coach and Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Health Science at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.

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