Track and Field Coaching Education: The Sprints
January 25, 2016
Coach Kelley Watson
Professor Scott Fosdick
Professor Matt Cabot
Expected Graduation: May 2015
At the high school level, track and field is one of the most highly participated in sports. In the United States alone, track and field has over 16,000 schools officially sponsoring the sport and over 1,000,000 boys and girls participating. These numbers, higher than basketball, baseball, and soccer, necessitate an increased magnitude of resources dedicated towards coaching, training, and overall athlete growth (The National Federation of State High School Assoiciations, 2015).
The currently proposed project will be a researched, designed, and implemented interactive PDF which would facilitate and assist in the education of high school track and field coaches in the sprints event group. The contents of this interactive PDF would encompass training theory, coaching philosophy, biological systems outlines, and sprinting mechanics. These factors are paramount in maintaining an ability to properly and successfully coach a high school sprinter, both experienced and inexperienced. Due to the highly technical nature of track and field, proper education is critical for all event group coaches. To maintain a high degree of success, individual coaches must educate themselves on all-encompassing training theories and philosophies, in addition to event-group specific methodologies and theories.
For the purpose of research into regional interest and desire for the proposed project, a survey of South Bay Area track and field coaches was conducted. Utilizing SurveyMonkey, I created a simple 10 questions survey aimed at demonstrating interest in digitally based track and field coaches’ education. Although this survey will not represent a key component of the final interactive PDF, it does however serve to aptly demonstrate the necessity for such a project. As objective motivation, this survey provides the final interactive PDF with a viable and suitable audience.
This research employed the responses of 50 South Bay Area head and assistant track and field coaches. Of those surveyed, 96% of respondents had coaching experience of more than 5 years, with 72% having coaching experience of more than 10 years. In addition, 70% of respondents stated they have partaken in formal coaching education with entities such as USA Track and Field or have received coaching and athletics related Bachelor or Masters Degrees and 80% of respondents, overall, believe they would benefit from starting or partaking in more coaching education programs. Finally, 66% of survey respondents stated they would utilize coaching education in a digital medium. From this research it may be concluded that in the South Bay Area, there is a demand by coaches for more overall education, more educational programs, and educational programs in a digital format. From this conclusion and based upon the scale and demographic of the surveyed audience, it may be extrapolated and concluded that there is a continual demand for coaching education and this demand may appropriately be met through a digital format (Bernstein, 2015).
Based upon the results of this survey, I propose to create an interactive PDF designed to facilitate and assist with coaching education in the sprints event group. The sections which will be in my project are training theory, warmup procedures and injury prevention, competition considerations, sprint mechanics, and energy systems. I chose these sections because of their philosophical, methodological, and training theory importance and their directly related importance to coaching the sprints event group. With a strong understanding and comprehension of these topics, a coach will be able to properly and successfully coach a high school track and field sprinter.
The encompassing literature review will serve as the fundamental basis of research and reference for the final interactive PDF. Based upon the ensuing literature review, the final interactive PDF will contain factual and scientific information which will strongly enable coaching education. Further, as a body of knowledge, the literature review will assist in developing the final interactive PDF—specifically, an understanding of what pieces of media ought to be included. Research and information within the literature review will help to dictate and demonstrate what pictures, videos, and interactive graphs will be needed.
Training Theory and Considerations:
Principles of Periodization—
The basis for track and field training theory and organization is the principle of periodization. In conjunction with athletics as a whole, track and field operates on a structured system revolving around competition and optimal performance. Within this system, it is paramount a coach identifies training themes and principles of segmentation to ensure an athletes peak performance. Although a coach must often take into consideration two full competitive seasons and an off-season, periodization primarily breaks up a full calendar year into individual and specific segments of training. For the purpose of this principle, this individual year of training is called a macrocycle. Although a macrocycle often includes off-season training, a typical macrocycle period lasts eight months to a full year depending on the competitive level and training age of the athlete. As a macrocycle will often encompass two competitive seasons, indoors and outdoors, two competitive training peaks must be considered. Within a full macrocycle, each smaller season is subdivided into shorter mesocycles. Although a macrocycle will typically encompass an entire year, training is often broken into two separate macrocycles or seasons of competition with specific mesocycles being covered within each macrocycle (Kirksey & Stone, 1998).
To further organize and plan a training year, three key components or mesocycles must be considered. These three components are the preparatory phase, the competitive phase, and the transition phase. The preparatory phase can be further subdivided into the general preparatory phase and the specific preparatory phase. As is eluded through its name, the general preparatory phase is characterized by general training, often during the summer or beginning months of an academic year. During this phase, training is organized and promoted with overall metabolic and muscular fitness and strength being the paramount goal. Often considered to be off-season training, this phase is highly important because of its significance and influence with later training phases. Following the general preparatory phase, the specific preparatory phase encompasses similar athletic goals, but with a larger focus on specific competitive goals. During this phase, aspects of athlete strength, speed, and power are increasingly focused on.
Following the preparatory phase, the competitive phase of training ought to begin. The competitive phase of training includes the pre-competition phase and the main competition phase. The pre-competition and competition phases of training focus on a continuance of specific training components of speed, power, and strength, but with a new focus on competitive and performance results. The pre-competitive phase of training will cover early season competitions with the overall goal of testing athlete fitness and competitive readiness. The main competition phase however, is designed to produce maximal and peak performances. The overall macrocycle and periodized training season is focused on specific competitive dates such as conference, state, or national meets.
Following the completion of a season, a transition phase is included with the stated goals of rest and recovery. Lasting around a month in duration, the transition phase is necessary to ensure an athlete can recover from a previous training segment and will be healthy and ready for the next season of competition and the start of a new periodized training cycle.
These three mesocycles are specifically organized and dictated by inter-season competitions ranked through order of importance. According to research by Tony Wells, Caryl Smith, and Curtis Taylor, a successfully planed, organized, and implemented macrocycle should elucidate specific performance benchmarks. If an athletes training is periodized and structured to peak twice in a season, the specific athlete ought to see a 1.55% increase in best athletic performance. Further, if an athletes training is periodized and structured to peak only once in a season, the specific athlete ought to see a .96% increase in best athletic performance. With these stated training goals, an athlete should be expected to see a tested performance benchmark of 2.5% of best individual performance three weeks into the competitive phase. Following this, the specific athlete should be attaining a competitive best performance around six weeks into the competitive phase of training. These benchmarks, although precise, should be utilized in order to ascertain the success or failure of a specific training cycle (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, USATF Development Project 1, 2001).
Within an individual mesocycle or season of competition, training is further broken down into a microcycle. A microcycle references a specific week of training within the mesocycle as a whole. Each microcycle is tailored around the stated goals of the current mesocycle. Each microcycle accounts for the full seven days of the week. Although an athlete is not active or training during every day, days for athlete rest are keenly accounted for. A microcycle is highly dependent on the overall fitness, ability, and training age of the specific athlete. Depending on these factors, the number of workouts per week may greatly vary. In addition, the intensity and volume of each workout and overall microcycle is dependent on the specific athlete. Overall however, a microcycle, like the mesocycle and macrocycle, adheres to biological and training principles of supercompensation and related components.
Supercompensation can be observed on a larger scale within a macrocycle or within a small scale microcycle. For purposes of the creation of individual training plans, supercompensation should be most acutely noted during a microcycle and an individual training day. Principally, supercompensation is a four-step process. The first step is the individual training or practice session. Taking the assumption of pre-practice or training representing athlete homeostasis or a fitness baseline, training acts to load the athletes’ body. The specific loading is characterized by a resulting level of increased fatigue and decreased performance ability. Following the load and subsequent fatigue, step two of supercompensation relates to a period of recovery. This recovery phase is paramount because it allows the cardiovascular, metabolic, and other biological systems to return the athlete to homeostasis. Following this recovery phase, step three of supercompensation is the resulting supercompensation itself. Following a load or intense practice and adequate practice, the natural biological processes of an athlete will necessitate an adaption to previous training stimuli. This is caused by the human body’s ability to account for increases in stimuli and training fatigue. As training intensity is increased and appropriate recovery is allowed, an athlete ought to be able perform at increasingly higher levels (Gambetta, 2007).
As a key point of consideration, understanding of the principle of overload is important to a full understanding of training periodization and performance supercompensation. Overload is the process of pushing the human body past the point of homeostasis or base physical capacity. Overload allows for the body to aptly utilize biological processes to recover and adapt to an increased base of physical capacity. To ensure a proper practice and athlete overload, an increase in training intensity or volume must be undertaken. Without an increase in intensity or volume, an appropriate overload cannot be obtained and thus, a resulting level of supercompensation cannot be obtained (Bosch & Klomp, 2005).
It is important to note however, that principles of overload need to directly correlate with individual physical and mental athlete capacities. If training intensity or volume is increased too quickly or past the point of athlete ability, overtraining and injuries can occur. The key to overload is finding the critical point between undertraining and overtraining, where an athlete is most likely to succeed.
In conjunction with principles of supercompensation, reversibility is an essential training principle which must be taken in consideration. Reversibility describes the biological trend in which an athlete will return to previous levels of homeostasis or fitness in the absence of appropriate or increased stimuli. In a model of supercompensation, an athlete who has supercompensated will return to previous states without an increase in either training intensity or volume. Although at the state level, all athletes will see trends of reversibility with decreases or absences in training, other factors such as athlete age, athlete training age, injury, and specific trained qualities will cause greater losses. It is necessary to take principles of reversibility into account when planning macrocycles and aspects of rest, recovery, or transition (Bosch & Klomp, 2005).
Law of Diminishing Returns—
In relation to principles of reversibility, the law of diminishing returns states an athlete will elicit decreased results and smaller increases in performance from recurrent stimuli. If an athlete performs the same task or activity each day in practice, the first session will produce the highest level of adaptation and performance increases, while the subsequent sessions will produce progressively reduced levels of adaptation and performance increases. To counteract this constant principle, training loads must be gradually augmented through either volume or intensity increases. Due to the direct relationship between individual physiological states and levels of practice and load stimuli, attention must be placed to the intensity and volume of a training session and the expected result. As an athlete grows in physiological ability and performance outcomes, training demand must also correspondingly grow. It also must be noted that as training load increases in conjunction with athletic physiology and performance increases, there is a lesser degree of physiological and performance growth per equal amount of energy expended (Bosch & Klomp, 2005).
Law of Specificity—
When formulating season training schedules and daily training sessions, it is critical to note the law of specificity. In unambiguous terms, the law of specificity states, “adaptation occurs only in muscles that have been stressed” (Bosch & Klomp, 2005). In relation to track and field and sprint training, specificity refers to an athlete training only aspects of the human body which will be directly utilized during a competition performance. For a sprinter during preparatory or competition phases of training, aspects of strength, speed, power, acceleration, and technique are the most crucial.
Professor of biomechanics, Frans Bosch determined that there are five key components of specificity which each coach should aptly understand. First, “types of muscle action must be similar to those used in competition.” This means an athlete ought to train how they expect to perform. For an athlete competing in a short sprint, components of speed, acceleration, and power are more important training aspects than endurance and aerobic strength. Secondly, “structure of the movement must resemble that used in competition.” Relating to a technical standpoint, each practice and training session should keenly take expected muscle movements during a competition into consideration. Again, the athlete ought to move in practice how they expect to move in a competition performance. Third, “sensory information must resemble that present in competition.” Recreating a competition environment during practice is crucial for both mental and physical stability and assurance. If an athlete has a specific pre-block ritual during a competition, they ought to perform the same ritual each time in practice. Fourth, ‘dominant energy systems used in competition must be called on.” In relation to the former points, training and practice sessions ought to strongly utilize similar or exact energy systems which will be used during a competition performance. In the case of a sprinter, this refers dominantly to systems and components of anaerobic respiration. Finally, “[the] result of the movement must be the same as competition.” Tying the former points together, a coach ought to ensure a practice and training session is organized and completed in a manner which is similar to a competition environment or specific performance (Nainby, 2013). As a whole, the law of specificity asks the question, “how can a specific training exercise contribute to increasing an individual’s level of performance” (Bosch & Klomp, 2005)?
Principles of training diversity and individuality attempt to encompass the ideas of the previously stated principles and laws. Each track and field team is composed of highly different individuals. These differences can range from simple gender differences, to age differences and differences in training and athletic ability. Although athletes may often share similar traits and qualities, no two athletes are identical in terms of physiological, biological, or psychological qualities. As such, each individual ought to be treated as an individual within a common system of training and philosophy. Although it is often impossible to personally tailor each training session to a particular athlete, especially in youth settings, each session should seek to identify dissimilarities amongst athletes and attempt to account for those differences in training and practice sessions. Attempting to train athletes and individuals with a purely group mindset may lead to diminished mental states and injury. Consideration should appropriately be placed on individual ability, levels of recovery and adaptation, specific training loads, nutrition, and environment or social aspects (Pyke & Rushall, 1990).
Fundamentals of Sprint Training—
When training and coaching a track and field sprinter, it is important to focus on specific “bio-motor” components of coordination, endurance, flexibility, speed, and strength. Coordination training seeks to increase an individual’s sense of overall balance, mechanical rhythm, and general orientation. Endurance, as applied to sprinting, seeks to promote speed maintenance “in the presence of fatigue.” During a sprint performance, endurance aids in lessening the degree of deceleration during the later parts of a race. Flexibility, in the form of pre-performance dynamic stretching or post-performance and rehabilitative static stretching, aids in the prevention of injury and the promotion of muscular balance and preparation. Speed is often considered the cornerstone of sprinting. Speed training aids in the overall increase of an individual’s velocity potential during a performance. Strength applies to the ability to adequately produce increased levels of power during a sprint performance and also directly aids in the overall increase of an individual’s velocity potential (Young & Schexnayder).
Although these five factors can be represented individually, factors of speed, strength, and endurance blend to form different but equally important training considerations. Acceleration utilizes factors of speed and strength to achieve an increased rate of speed from non-movement. Acceleration training relates to workloads, often shorter than 30 meters, which end before or right when maximal velocity or speed is achieved (Young & Schexnayder). Aspects of speed and endurance can be broken into speed endurance, power speed, and speed development. Speed endurance represents the ability to maintain a high degree of velocity for the longest possible duration. Speed endurance work relates to individual practice performances longer than 30 meters in length while concentrating on maintenance of maximal velocity. Dependent on the specific energy system being focused upon, speed endurance can range from 30 meters to 400 meters (Dare & Kearney, 1988). Speed Development differentiates between speed training based on the duration of the specific activity. Speed development specifically focuses on sprinting with a duration of no more than six seconds. Typically speed development works on the phase of sprinting, following acceleration, between 30 meters and 60 meters (Wells , Smith, & Taylor, USATF Development Project 3, 2001).
In addition to these training factors, principles of specificity should always be considered. Regardless of training period, phase, or goal, it is important to always stress that each workout is tailored towards the ultimate goal of increased performance and athletic ability.
Injury Prevention and Considerations:
Static vs Dynamic Stretching—
Common athlete warmup routines dictate either a method of static stretching, dynamic stretching, or a combination of the both. By definition, static stretching is the act of elongating a particular muscle or muscle group and holding the specific position for a duration of 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Static stretching generally occurs at the start of training, practice, or competitive sessions and is a direct result of a warmup routine. As a result of the elongation of muscle fibers and whole muscle groups, static stretching works to increase muscle alignment and directly improve range of motion. These effects are the result of individual muscle fibers and connective muscular tissues being tensed, lengthened, and aligned in the direction of the specific stretch. Increased use of slow and gradual static stretching will consequently cause a desensitization of muscle fibers, a steady lengthening of muscle fibers, a decreased stretch reflex action, and eventually an increase in overall muscle alignment and range of motion (The Canadian Athletics Coaching Centre, 2010).
Although static stretching has positive restorative and rehabilitative effects, static stretching as means for a warmup routine may have gross negative effects on overall athlete performance. In a study conducted by Louisiana State University, concluding research found that static stretching may have adverse effects on sprint performance. In relation to sprinting and activities which necessitate high levels of power and speed, static stretching may cause a, “3% decrease in sprint performance…” Because of the resulting elongation of muscular fibers caused by static stretching, individual muscles may temporarily show a decrease in stiffness and a disability to adequately store elastic energy. As elastic energy is largely utilized in power and speed exercises through its correlation to the stretch-shortening cycle of the lower limbs, an inability to maximally store elastic energy in the employed muscles will cause a decrease in overall performance. In instances of high-intensity sprinting, pre-performance static stretching ought to be acutely avoided in favor of dynamic stretching (Winchester, Nelson, Landin, Young, & Schexnayder, 2008).
In opposition to static stretching, warmup routines consisting of dynamic activities have been shown to aid or improve overall instances athletic performance. In consistency with high intensity power and speed activities such as sprinting, dynamic stretching works to stimulate and prepare neuromuscular systems for eventual performance. Dynamic routines consisting of “submaximal intensity aerobic activity followed by large amplitude dynamic stretching and then completed with sport specific dynamic activities,” are optimal (Behm & Chaouachi, 2011). Accordingly, warmups should include aspects of speed, power, and acceleration in conjunction with overall muscular, cardiovascular, and neurological priming.
A proper warmup routine for a track and field sprinter should include components of biological systems which will be eventually utilized during a practice session or competition performance. This routine should start gradually and focus on keeping an athlete muscularly warm. To start, a series of short twenty meter shake-out runs should be included. These shake-outs should focus on upper and lower limb movement and should include a jog back to the start following each move. Following this, a series of leg swings, both standing and laying, should be included. As opposed to static leg stretching, dynamic lower limb movements serve to properly warmup an athlete without inadvertently over-lengthening lower limb muscle groups. As the warmup progresses, jogging exercises such as butt kicks and high knee skips should be included to gradually increase speed and intensity. Continuing, an appropriate warmup procedure ought to include series of speed and acceleration work; components necessary for a sprinting practice session. Aspects of standing, crouching, and bending acceleration work, followed by short block starts is necessary to prime an athlete for performance. In addition to aspects of muscular dimensions and aspects of speed, power, and acceleration being focused upon, attention should be placed in increased heart-rate and overall body temperature. Although warmup routines greatly vary in length, consistency, and features, proper and adequate attention should always be focused on overall athlete readiness and preparedness for training or competition sessions (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, Warm Up Procedure, 2001).
Common injury prevention and rehabilitation techniques strongly utilize and prefer a method of treatment called R.I.C.E. Coined by Dr. Gabe Mirkin in 1978, R.I.C.E stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This series of treatments was utilized for a multitude of general and severe muscular and training related injuries or ailments. With recent research and testing however, this formerly common and accepted mode of injury treatment and prevention has begun to see an increasingly reduced usage (Stone, 2014).
“Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.” Stated by Dr. Mirkin’s, new research details that icing is not only a poor method for injury prevention, but it may also have negative effects on overall athlete injury rehabilitation. When a muscle is damaged or injured through exercise or other means, the human body utilizes biological systems to immediately begin repairing the damaged muscle. The first stage of this process is called inflammation. Counter to historical views, inflammation is a positive consequence of injury. Inflammatory cells work by releasing the hormone, insulin-like growth factor, directly into the sight of muscle injuries. This vital hormone promotes muscle recovery within the site of the injury itself. When ice is used, this critically important biological process is slowed or altogether halted. Instead of optimally promoting blood flow, ice constricts blood vessels and limits the access of inflammatory cells to the site of an injury. Consequently, icing an injury may directly cause a delayed recovery and rehabilitation time (Mirkin, MD, 2014).
In direct relation to ice reducing the body’s ability to bring necessary inflammatory cells to the site of an injury, ice also inhibits the body’s ability to reduce or prevent swelling. Swelling is the result of the body’s accumulation of blood, debris, and damaged cells at the site of an injured muscle following the inflammatory response. The body’s natural response to swelling is to “evacuate the waste” via the lymphatic system. When an individual uses ice during rehabilitation, the body’s ability to evacuate this waste is greatly diminished (Reinl, Freeze Frame: Are Inflammation and Swelling Friends or Foes?, 2013).
A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” further corroborated this by noting an increase in “muscle damage markers” following a period of ice application. Further results noted an increase in individual fatigue “72 hours after topical cooling compared with controls.” Overall results suggested a delayed recovery effect extending from the application of ice to damaged muscle areas (Tseng, et al., 2013).
As further noted by Guilhem, et.al, repeated applications of “localized air-pulsed cryotherapy” did not affect overall muscular and neuromuscular recovery. Over a two week trial period, inflammation and local swelling were found to have not been reduced. Additionally stating, “Therefore, instead of decreasing edema [swelling] formation and inflammation, localized cryotherapy (even repeatedly applied) more likely only reduces the amount or the rate of the damaged cells.” Although cold and ice therapy may delay the overall effects of muscular activity and soreness, it does not effectively reduce or prevent them (Guilhem, et al., 2013).
In addition to icing, any tool or method for injury prevention or rehabilitation which reduces the body’s natural inflammatory response will inevitably reduce overall recovery. As stated by Dr. Mirkin, this will include, “cortisone-type drugs, pain-relieving medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and immune suppressants.” Anything which will offset or delay the human body’s natural immune or inflammatory response will delay the overall recovery process (Mirkin, MD, 2014).
As an alternative to methods of rest, ice, compression, and elevation, direct or indirect muscle “activation” should be utilized. By activated the muscles surrounding the injury site, natural biological systems of recovery can be aided. This process works by “[activating] the tired and/or sore muscles (and/or) the muscles surrounding the injured tissue) to initiate the cascade of events that literally works to protect the area from further damage, prevent or retard disuse atrophy, increase circulation, and, ultimately, heal the damaged tissue.” Non-use of injured muscles will delay an eventual recovery, while conversely, muscle activity will promote a faster eventual recovery (Reinl, Iceless Recovery: Actual Loading Protocols that Worked!, 2013).
In relation to icing and injuries, it is important to note the difference between muscle soreness and an injury. Soreness is caused by general muscle use, is non-serious, and can last up to a few days following an intensive training session. Common soreness can be relieved through rest, recovery workouts, and rehabilitative measures for muscle activation. If an individual claims a muscle is too sore to use, complains of distinct pains, or has soreness which lasts longer than a few days, an injury may be present. In the case of an injury, it is critical that a proper diagnosis from an athletic trainer or doctor is immediately sought. Unlike soreness, injuries cannot be properly resolved through rest and basic recovery work. It is important to follow strict professional guidelines for recovery and rehabilitation when dealing with an injury.
Overuse and sports related injuries are increasingly prevalent at every level of athletics. Injuries can play a large role in athlete development and eventual success. Injuries can be static in nature, effecting a single muscle group, or dynamic and continually change and effect multiple muscle groupings. In addition, injuries can affect individual athletes for a short duration of a single day, or conversely, affect an athlete for an entire season, even ending the particular season in question. The key to injuries is a sense of understanding, awareness, and ability to be proactive. Two injuries common to track and field and sprinting in particular are shin splints and hamstring injuries. As a result of the high impact, high intensity nature of sprinting, increased strain is placed on lower limb muscle groups.
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is a pain, dull or severe, on the inside of the tibia or shin. Shin splints may occur before physical activity, during physical activity, and after physical activity while resting. Pain in the tibial region of the lower body is caused by, “irritation of the periosteum- a saran wrap like covering around [the] bone- or a stress reaction to the underlying bone.” Shin splints are largely the result of identifiable movement and muscular dysfunction. This dysfunction can be acutely seen in the hips, knees, feet, and toes of an athlete. If these individual groups are unbalanced and pointed in a non-linear or outward manner, increased stress will occur through patterns of overactive versus underactive muscle use. In order to correct misalignment and alleviate issues stemming from shin splints, direct treatment and rehabilitative exercises are necessary to oppose the current dichotomy of overactive versus underactive muscle use. Foam rolling, stretching, and strengthening the afflicted regions have shown to equalize muscle usage and diminish pain from shin splints. It must be noted however, that pain in the tibial region of the lower limbs may also be caused by underlying bone weakness or injuries. In these cases and when proactive treatments are unsuccessful, professional guidance should be sought. Nonetheless, in general, direct treatment and rehabilitative measures should be attempted instead of merely masking the underlying problem through purchasing new shoes or insoles, icing, or inactivity (Stone, Shin Splints 101, 2013).
In addition to shin splints, hamstring injuries are the most common ailment amongst track and field sprinters. Hamstrings are one of the largest and most used muscle groups in the human body. Hamstrings are maximally utilized during top-speed sprinting, but are also heavily used during every component of a training or performance session. Although hamstring injuries may be caused by basic muscle weakness, more common causes relate to physiological and mechanical issues. Two large issues which cause hamstring injuries are “diminished range of motion in the ankle and [an] anterior tilt of the pelvis.” Diminished range of motion in the ankle relates to an inability of an athlete to properly dorsiflex the ankle during high intensity activity. The result of this inactivity causes a chain of unwanted tightness through the lower limbs and causes undue strain on the hamstring region. An anterior tilt of the pelvis relates to an individual’s hip being physically tilted forward and not in a neutral or linear position. This position is commonly referred to as a “butt-out posture.” This position can be commonly caused by lower back tightness, hip flexor tightness or improper mechanical positions while sprinting. Each cause places a correlated increased tightness and strain on the hamstring muscles. Following proper observation and identification of the root cause, rehabilitation should be focused on “pain free movement,” strengthening of the afflicted regions, and a mentored recovery plan by a sponsored athletic trainer (Schexnayder, 2013).
100 meter Race Planning—
The 100 meter sprint is the focal point for any track and field sprinter. Although the sprint event group includes the 60 meter, 200 meter, and 400 meter sprints, the 100 meter sprint represents the cornerstone for fundamentals of speed, strength, power, and acceleration. As these characteristics are tantamount to a successful 100 meter race and the success of an individual sprinter, they are highly interconnected to the other three sprint events.
The 100 meter sprint is composed of five different stages: “reaction time, block clearance, acceleration, maintenance of maximal velocity, and the degree of deceleration.” Although each component is important, each component is not equal in terms of proportionality to a successful performance. On a percentage scale of a completed 100 meter race, reaction time accounts for 1%, block clearance accounts for 5%, acceleration accounts for 64%, maintenance of maximal velocity accounts for 18%, and the degree of deceleration accounts for 12%. It is evident that the phases of acceleration and maintenance of maximal velocity are most critical for success in a 100 meter performance (Tellez & Harewood, 2014).
The first two phases of a 100 meter performance, reaction time and block clearance, are crucial to a proper eventual acceleration phase. Focus should be played in simultaneously and forcefully pushing off of both block pedals, driving the lead arm above the head, and driving the lead knee up and out with a high degree of intensity. This quick action should properly see a high degree of linear degree (Baughman, Takaha, & Tellez, 1984). The acceleration pattern of a sprinter should be gradual and relaxed with the goal of maintaining a phase of maximal velocity as long as possible and shortening the degree of deceleration as much as possible. As noted through kinematic analysis of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, gold medalist Usain Bolt continues to accelerate until nearly 60 meters to 70 meters (Krzysztof & Mero, 2013). The goal of a new or youth sprinter should be to maintain a degree of acceleration until 30 meters to 60 meters (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, 100 Meter Race Model, 2001). Too quick of an acceleration phase will cause a sprinter to have a higher degree of deceleration and an overall slower time. Following the acceleration phase and the achievement of maximal velocity, a sprinter should continue to maintain proper sprinting mechanics with a strong focus placed on stride rate and stride length. During the deceleration phase of a 100 meter performance, the individual athlete should focus on staying relaxed, while continuing to focus on stride length and stride rate. If a sprinter is to be successfully in the 100 meter sprint, these five factors and phases must be assumed and appropriately executed (Baughman, Takaha, & Tellez, 1984).
Fundamentals of Sprint Mechanics—
Sprinting is defined through the interaction of mechanical principles and fundamentals of speed. Speed, often statistically analyzed through individual velocity, is the relationship between distance and time. The basic goal of a sprinter is to cover a specified distance in the shortest amount of time, therefore achieving the highest possible velocity. Olympic sprinters such as Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis are able to achieve velocities of 12.04 meters per second. Within a 100 meter sprint, velocity is accomplished through cyclical mechanics of “reaction, acceleration, and frequency” (Joch, 2008).
The most critical aspect of sprinting is the relationship between stride length and stride frequency. Overall sprint velocity is determinant on this relationship and must be keenly focused on during training and sprint performance. For overall velocity to increase and subsequent performance time to decrease, factors of stride length, stride frequency, or both must increase. Given the relationship between stride length and stride frequency, it is important that an “increase in one factor in not ‘canceled out’ by a similar or greater decrease in the other factor.” A strong increase in stride length may result in a stronger decrease in stride length, consequently slowing down an athlete. With the inverse being equally true, a balance between the two factors is critical. For purposes of identification, taller athletes typically display a shorter stride frequency as a result of an increased stride length (Hunter, Marshall, & Mcnair, 2001).
Determining an appropriate balance between stride length and stride frequency lies in the trochanter length of the individual athlete. Trochanter length is identified by measuring the distance between the greater trochanter of the femur and the base of the foot or floor (Segal, et al., 2008). The measurement of the trochanter can be used to determine optimal stride length by calculating the maximum and minimum range and how it relates to proper individual mechanics. According to Tony Wells, optimal stride length should range from a maximum of 2.50 multiplied by the trochanter length and a minimum of 2.35 multiplied by the trochanter length. Youth athletes should typically experience a stride length close to the minimum edge of the range, whilst elite athletes will experience a stride length close to the maximum edge of the range. Precise stride length of an individual can be calculated through video analysis and the determination of how many steps were taken within a given distance. From this information, a coach is able to determine if an athlete is over or under-striding and appropriate measures can be taken (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, USATF Development Project 1, 2001).
In addition to utilizing factors of stride length and stride frequency in determining individual sprint mechanics, factors of, “center of mass at takeoff, height of takeoff, vertical velocity of touchdown and takeoff, and leg angle range-of-motion” must be taken into consideration. As these factors are interconnected with stride length and stride frequency, a deviation from the norm in any single characteristic can cause abnormal sprint mechanics and a non-optimal sprint performance. Position of the center of mass in relation to touchdown and takeoff may cause a deviation in neutral positioning of the hip. An overall increase or decrease in height of takeoff from a neutral and stiff position may cause a decrease in both stride length and stride frequency. Similarly, inadequate action and range-of-motion in the lower limbs and a decrease in velocity during touchdown and takeoff may also cause a decrease in stride length and stride frequency (Hunter, Marshall, & Mcnair, 2001).
Energy Systems Overview—
Human biological energy systems are composed of two categories: anaerobic and aerobic. Anaerobic energy consisted of energy production without the direct use of oxygen. Conversely, anaerobic energy consists of energy production principally with the use of oxygen. Within sprinting, the anaerobic energy system is most strongly employed, with the aerobic system only being used during bouts of longer sprints. As a result of this dichotomy and strong preference for one system over the other, it is important to understand how the anaerobic system works, what it consists of, and the estimated duration of use for each component.
The alactic component of the anaerobic energy system relates to the production of energy without the additional production of lactic acid. Alactic energy is synthesized through the use of phosphagen, phosphocreatine, and muscular adenosine triphosphate or ATP (Gastin, 2001). Alactic energy is utilized concurrently from the start of a sprint until an approximate maximum duration of 30 seconds. The initial block start or, “initial thrust” of a race is characterized by the sole use of “stored muscular ATP.” This initial thrust out of the blocks is also coupled with the use of phosphocreatine. As muscular ATP supply lasts for approximately only two seconds, after the start and first few steps, it is largely depleted. The remaining portion of the alactic energy stage is characterized by the use of the phosphocreatine system and the extended phosphocreatine system. Phosphocreatine is largely used until 15 seconds, including the acceleration and maximal velocity stages of a sprint. The extended phosphocreatine system occurs largely from 15 seconds until 30 seconds of a race and is characterized by an individual’s ability to maintain a capacity for speed, or “speed endurance,” and its beginning interaction with lactate production (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, Training Energy Systems, 2001).
The lactic component of the anaerobic energy system relates to the production of energy through the process of glycolysis and the subsequent production of lactic acid. This process occurs through the “breakdown of carbohydrates, mainly in the form of muscle glycogen, to pyruvic acid and then lactic acid” (Gastin, 2001). In youth or inexperienced athletes, glycolysis can occur before thirty seconds of a race, during speed endurance components. The lactic system is the key component in a race duration of 30 seconds to 45 seconds. During this phase, lactic acid begins to accumulate and between 45 seconds and 90 seconds, athletes are forced to maintain and hold speed with elevated levels of lactic acid. Following a maximum duration of 90 seconds, continued lactic acid production is coupled by aerobic systems of respiration (Wells, Smith, & Taylor, Training Energy Systems, 2001).
I will be creating a Masters project and not a thesis due to the interactive nature of a project. Tools of interactivity are more suitable and appropriate for learning and educating in comparison to merely reading. An interactive PDF will seek to place preexisting research, studies, and articles into an accessible format for high school coaches. In addition to creating an interactive component from formerly static documents, I will utilize new media technology in the form of videos, pictures, and editable tables to facilitate education through the observable demonstration of track and field topics. As this project is designed for track and field coaching education, it will be largely targeted towards high school coaches and coaches who are inexperienced or new to track and field. In addition to this target demographic, this project will specifically be targeted toward individuals who coach the sprint events.
The basis for this target demographic is grounded in the results of the aforementioned survey conducted amongst South Bay Area track and field coaches. Further, a previously conducted, compiled, and analyzed survey worked to demonstrate audience interest and desire for a digital medium of track and field education. As an initial component of the proposal and final project, this survey aids in overall project development and helps to serve as a core basis for presented themes within the final project.
A digital interactive PDF is designed to facilitate learning through hands-on, tangible interactions. By design, a completed project will allow a coach and user to access specific topics without being overwhelmed with information. In contrast to a thesis, an interactive PDF will allow the individual user to separately read and learn about training theory, warmup procedures, injury prevention, competition considerations, sprint mechanics, and energy systems. In addition, within each subtopic or project component, videos, pictures, or editable tables will be included. Videos and pictures allow the user to visual see an example of what the literature is saying. Users can then utilize these videos and pictures within their own training regimens. By breaking each topic into a separate and distinct component of the overall project, users can learn what they want, when they want, and without the difficulty of interpreting complex research or statistical documents.
The body of research and science present in the final interactive PDF will be distinctly based on the literature review. Through the outlining of pertinent concepts and overall themes, the literature review will assist in gathering and implementing media components. By creating a succinct and complete literature review, the final project will be accurate and will specifically cover all of the necessary and fundamental aspects of sprinting for a future or current coach.
The final project will be designed to bring focus towards visual and tangible components. It will be simple, clean, and easy to use, but will encompass all the necessary aspects of coaching and sprint education. I will use vibrant colors to draw attention to important details within my project. By using a simple, but detailed layout, the final interactive PDF will be easy to use and will provide quick, but intricate tools for coaching and sprints education.
Overall, the final project will be an interactive pdf, designed and formatted in InDesign, and will have five core sections, including a home page, table of contents, and extra resources page. The five core sections included will be:
- Training Theory and Considerations
- Warmup Procedure and Injury Prevention
- Competition Considerations
- Sprinting Mechanics and Considerations
- Energy Systems
The first section, Training Theory and Considerations, will include pictures and infographics to visually describe complex themes of track and field and sprint training theory. By utilizing pictures and visual components within this section, I will be able to break up one of the text heaviest sections of the final project. Pictures and visual components will include tables and graphic displays demonstrating various training themes and methodologies—examples include models of periodization and overload.
The second section, Warmup Procedure and Injury Prevention, will largely utilize a combination of text, pictures, and videos. I will use pictures and videos of San Jose State athletes to visually describe and give examples of warmup and dynamic stretching techniques. By inserting videos of specific warmup techniques and modalities, it will enable the audience to have a clearer vision of what is technically necessary and required within a warmup. In addition, I will use still pictures to demonstrate and display common causes of injuries, so coaches can visually see and learn the warning signs.
The third section, Competition Considerations, will greatly utilize video components. By taking video of San Jose State athletes during a 100 meter competition, I will be able to easily break down the sub-components of a race for the individual user. Individuals using the interactive pdf will be able to see each phase of a race and will be able to learn why each phase is important. The video components of this section will emphasize an analysis of the 3 distinct components of a 100 meter race—acceleration, maximal velocity, and deceleration.
The fourth section, Sprinting Mechanics and Considerations, will also strongly utilize text, pictures, and videos. By using pictures and whole segments of video, I will be able to demonstrate key principles of sprint mechanics and facilitate the learning of a complex topic. Specific pictures and videos will serve to enable an analyze of static and dynamic mechanical features during a sprint performance.
The fifth section, Energy Systems, will be a text heavy section, but I will also utilize customizable excel tables and graphs. These components will allow an individual to see when and where each energy system phase will be utilized in a practice or a race and why. Graphs will be both static and dynamic—helping to ensure a basis for both education and variable manipulation of data.
Overall, these five sections will be accessible through the table of contents page. I will creatively design this page to draw attention to each section with the goal of retaining each individual user. On this page, each section will be displayed as an individually clickable and separate component.
Lastly, I will include an extra resources page in my final project. This page will include my personal contact information and links to other track and field coaching education resources.
The process for creating and completing the final project will go as follows:
December 1st-January 31st: During this phase I will be creating the media component of my project. This includes taking pictures and videos of San Jose State University track and field athletes for use in my project.
February 1st-March 1st: I will be completing the wireframe for the project. I will create the overall outline for the final project. This outline will include interactive components, style schemes, and page design.
March 2nd-March 31st: I will be designing the final project utilizing Adobe InDesign. Further, I will insert predetermined media and textual content into the project. This media and text based content will serve as the core of my final project.
April 1st-April 15th: At this stage I will be proof reading, editing, and making corrections to my final project. I will make any necessary changes to design and content to my project before it is finalized and completed.
May 1st: My final project, an interactive PDF, will be completed and turned into my advisors.
Interactive media and technology is new to the discussion of track and field coaching education. Current educational tools solely utilize paper-based documents or simplified and non-interactive PowerPoints. This project on coaching education for the sprint events will assist in the education of new or non-experienced coaches. Through the use of digital interaction, coaches can learn important track and field training and sprinting concepts at their own pace. Further, based upon the information and research presented within the literature review, the overall project will contain the pertinent knowledge for a track and field sprints coach. In opposition to traditional media, interactive tools will allow individuals to simultaneously read and visualize what they ought to learn. Based on theories of social learning, prospective education is accomplished more successfully with a visual and behavioral component. By enabling a user a sense of self-action and self-completion, coaching education for the sprint events can more wholly be accomplished.
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