How to Create Horizontal Knee Drive in First Step?

first step horizontal knee drive speed development sprint mechanics Jul 14, 2022

Many sprinters have been talking about the importance of the horizontal step, so I decided to write about how to create a horizontal knee drive in the first step. In this post, we’ll have a closer look at some of the mistakes people make and how to make sure you create the perfect knee drive in the first step.

Let’s analyze these techniques in a step-by-step guide:

Bend in the Shin

When you are starting your run, you need to bend your front shin down along with driving the hips forward. This motion needs to be simultaneous to create the horizontal knee drive in the first step.

So your movement will be downward (with the shin) and forward (with the hips). 

Drive Forward

As you are going with the motion, the next thing you want to pay attention to is your opposite arm. As you are driving through with your knee, you should be able to get your arm out and up as best as you can. This helps achieve the proper body position in the spine and when done properly gets the knee out in front of the body.

Additionally, the knee should maintain an angle of about 60 degrees. It is a common mistake for athletes to allow too much extension in their knee which slows down their start.

The Front Foot

When going through your start, you should keep the front heel of the drive leg connected to the hamstring the best as possible. This helps with generating a backward force through the lower body which is what propels the body forward.

As you are hitting the ground with your foot, it’s crucial to maintain excellent foot stability by keeping the heel high in the air and spending the least amount of time possible on the ground. The faster you do this, the better you’ll be able to propel forward.

In the first step, your foot should not be bent and the heel should not touch the ground. If you observe guys like Ben Johnson and Christian Coleman, you’d notice how well they are able to explode out during the initial phase of their run. Part of this explosiveness comes from weight distribution, keeping most of the weight in the front foot when getting set up.

Synching the Motions

When driving to create a horizontal knee drive, you should bear in mind that all the motions I’ve explained above should be performed in synchronization. Here’s a quick follow up on what to keep in mind in the first few steps of your sprint:

  • First action is knee down and drive the horizontally though the toe.
  • Drive your front arm forward and up to get into the correct body position
  • Keep a 60 degree angle at the knee and keep the hips coming through
  • Use the backward pull over the lower body to propel the upper body forward.

How well you are able to move in all the areas mentioned above defines the synching of motion. The timing of these motions is really important if you want to create a horizontal knee drive in your first step.

Things to avoid

  1. Make sure you are not staying too low to the ground when you move forward. However, your head should not be popping up, your chin should be tucked.
  2. Another thing you want to keep in mind is the motion of your front arm, do not lift up then go back, go straight back.
  3. The back foot should be coming straight through at initial push off. Eliminate extra motion up wards when possible.

Also, a Must Read: Top 10 Secrets To Improve Speed Immediately




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