Many Thanks to Puma for providing this training video of Usain Bolt, shot prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics in his hometown of Jamaica.
In the video, I love the casualness of Usain Bolt wearing Basketball pants over his training tights.
After the Olympics, his coach tells everyone his secret to success was a hard work ethic in his training regimen. Plus McDonalds’ Chicken McNuggets. I’ll bet a lot of parents were cringing with that remark!
They also spotted elements in his training that caused him to be injury prone. So they work at them by training very hard in the off-season and all year ’round.
The still shots generated from the video shows a good example of his start. After all, you have to copy your training from the practice field to live competition. It has to be second nature as well as a hind-brain activity. Somehow it’s hard to copy the pre-race jitters or adrenaline that comes with competition. Only experience can duplicate that, which is why you have to have several races leading up to the Championship meet. I recommend 5-7 100 meter races leading up to the big race, and 3-5 400 meter races.
I discussed the stretch reflex in the article Track and Field Starting Blocks Evolution, explaining how “low” starting blocks with your heel exposed is a GOOD thing.
In the video below, watch the rear foot and calf at take-off, and how the stretch reflex is utilized on these “short height blocks”:
From these still shots, take a close look at his first 3 steps out of the blocks, and compare them to a similar article: Valeri Borzov – A Clinic on Sprinting from Starting Blocks – First 3 Steps.
Optimal theoretical starting “set” position. Illustration by Derek Hansen of Running Mechanics.
“On Your Marks” position
“Set” Position – Hips are high
Gun goes off. His left hand moves slightly ahead of the right hand. Note the angle of his back foot and how the stretch reflex is utilized on these “short height blocks” compared to the previous frame. The Puma strip on his spikes is a good indication on how much the foot goes back.
Good Extension – straight line from head to heel, a sign of maximum power. Trajectory angle is approx. 45 degrees. Thus both horizontal and vertical force vectors are used.
Body position at 45 degrees. Note back arm bent at near 90 degrees. “Piston-like short arms” creates quicker turn-over, but sacrificing power.
Body position still at 45 degrees. Note back arm is starting to be bent over 90 degrees. “Longer arms” means a longer stroke cycle, which favours more power over quickness.
Can you spot some of the other flaws in his start (if any)?