Whether you’re sprinting 5 meters or 200 meters, it’s important to see how many steps you take. Think about a Track athlete who gets clocked at a 10.0 second 100m sprint. Not only did he run a solid time, but he also completed the race in 60 steps. In this case, we are looking at the content of his race. Let’s say his competitor ran the same exact time and only took 57 steps. Conclusion: Our 57 step sprinter is more mechanically efficient than our 60 step sprinter.
60 step sprinter: 60 steps/10 seconds=6 steps per second
57 step sprinter: 57 steps/10 seconds=5.7 steps per second
Notice how our 57 step sprinter uses less energy to achieve the same result. This is done by his stride length being longer, which means he is spending more time in the “flight’ phase of sprinting and less time on the ground. The challenge becomes how do we improve the efficiency of our 60 step sprinter so he can run a faster time? The first step would be to improve strength so he increases mechanical efficiency and ground interaction. The second is to cut down on the total number of steps taken over the course of the sprint. This can be done by practicing hip extension during block starts so an athlete can learn to get “long” in the initial phases of acceleration. By recording simple measures like time and steps taken, coaches can determine the mechanical efficiency of each athlete and in turn develop better programming.