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Earlier in the year, I posted an article about the controversial “Jamaican” toe-scrape toe-drag technique on the second step. It’s not limited to Jamaicans now.
This article is guest blogged by movement specialist and Track and Field coach Adarian Barr of Next Level Athletics and Fitness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His other contributing article was Staying Low on a 40 Yard Dash or 100 Meter Start.
The Toe Drag Makes You Faster?
Toe drag out of a block start is becoming more and more common amongst elite sprinters. Examples include Usain Bolt on the second step, Justin Gatlin on the first two steps, Asafa Powell on the first two steps, and Lolo Jones who has recently switched from a drag on the 3rd step to the first two steps.
Here is Asafa Powell’s video on YouTube:
As a sprinter develops, they are taught to drive out of the blocks with both legs, but maybe we should be taking a note or two from the block start of a swimmer. Swimmer’s drive off of one leg and never bring a knee through. This means that they create enough explosive power with one leg that the other leg becomes irrelevant. Instead of bringing one knee through like sprinters, swimmers drive the body forward off of one leg leaving leg leg suspended behind them.
When regarding sprinters, the toe drag can work to a runners advantage just as much as a swimmer’s start can work to their advantage. Driving off of one leg and leaving one leg behind you creates the same explosion that swimmers have already perfected. Toe drag creates tremendous power and explosion as the glutes contract over a longer period of time allowing the sprinter to achieve maximum force application. In addition, dragging the toe also drives the hips down the track setting up a pattern to create maximum horizontal velocity.
Here is Lolo Jones video (embedding is disabled, so you have to go to YouTube)
Another added bonus of toe drag is that your feet stay low to the ground creating less braking action. Due to the fact that the athlete’s hips are driving horizontally with their feet remaining close to the ground, the athlete is able to stay low as they don’t have to raise their body up to bring the back leg through. In order for the toe drag start to work for the athlete, the athlete must alter their arm swing from a back and forth action to a side to side action as the shoulders get involved to create torque.
According to theorists, the most important benefit that can come of dragging the toe is the inevitable ability to create greater top end speed. After seeing some of the world’s most elite sprinters successfully execute the toe drag, it is safe to say that dragging your toe does indeed make the block start faster.
About the Author
Adarian Barr (movement specialist, trainer, and track and field coach) of Next Level Athletics and Fitness has been teaching this sprint start to his athletes with great success.
Want to learn more? Contact us at email@example.com
Complex Meets Simple 2012 Instantly better Track and Field Clinic.
Dec 15, 2012 at Merritt College, from 1 to 5 pm.
For details, see: