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The Need For Speed Series: Part 3 “The Ground Is Lava”

To run fast you need to spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. Imagine if you will, that the ground is lava like here. This is especially important during the top speed phase, which is characterised by an upright trunk, level head, and maximal hip height-approximately perpendicular to the torso during a maximal-effort run.

At top speed you need to touch as vertical as possible, so you don’t lose the acceleration you’ve already created, this is why you need to imagine “the ground is lava”. It requires preactivation, which is where you produce tension in your muscles before you hit the ground, in order to rebound away from it.

You also need to get your knees high during the top speed phase-the higher the knee, the more you can attack the ground to produce backwards force, leading to increased speed due to more time in the air.

Watch the video below for more information about getting off the ground quickly.

If you’re interested in how we train this, here is an example of a recent training session our staff undertook to develop this quality.

The keys to top speed are:

  • Trunk/Torso Position: Upright posture-between 80-90° and the muscles of the head, neck, shoulders, and upper extremities should remain relaxed.
  • Foot Contact: Ball of foot, in line with hip joints
  • Shin Angle at Foot Contact: Similar to body angle (80-90°)

*Hip at 90° Knee at 90°

  • Ankle Position: Neutral Position, 0° Dorsiflexion, foot perpendicular to shin.

You may have noticed that these keys are similar to those of the acceleration phase discussed in part 1 and you would be exactly right. The main difference between the acceleration phase & top speed is the angle you attack the ground, this is why with field sports our main focus will be on acceleration and deceleration.

Why you ask?

Because in sprinting, the acceleration phases lasts at least 40 meters. In field sports such as baseball, rugby league/union, soccer or AFL, you rarely get the chance to run further than this due to the nature of the game and when you change direction, you don’t start running with top speed mechanics straight away. For this reason, we believe you will get the biggest performance benefits from improving your acceleration phase.

Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of the top speed phase. If you are looking to improve your quality of life or perform better with your sport then feel free to book in with our team to make sure you have the best chance of achieving these goals by getting a thorough assessment and an individualised program.

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