Track and field is a sport that contains many different disciplines, including track sprints, track distance races, and field events, which include javelin throwing and pole-vaulting, among others. While predominantly an individual sport (except for relay races), in high school athletics, track and field athletes earn points based on their finishes toward an overall team score. Each athlete in each event should perform their best for two reasons: their individual result and their team score.
Running and walking, while they seem similar, are two different modes of movement. Running is ballistic in which there are two phases: (1) a flight phase (also known as a recovery phase) with no contact with the ground, and (2) a support phase when one leg is on the ground (Plisk, 2008). This differs from walking, as there is no flight phase.
Even within running there are two different disciplines. Distance running is at slower speeds and requires great focus on economy of movement, whereas sprinting is at maximal speeds with little focus on economy (Bushnell & Hunter, 2007). Because of the differing goals of these types of running, the techniques of distance running and sprinting are unique. A more acute hip angle is noticed with sprinters when compared with distance runners, because of the need to limit ground contact time, which is a braking force, during a sprint (Bushnell & Hunter, 2007). In a sprint (or any race, for that matter), the goal is to finish as quickly as possible. By limiting the amount of time in the support phase, the time braking is diminished.
A race is scored by the amount of time it takes an athlete to cover the pre-described distance. Typically, the time is measured from the starting gun to the instant the runners torso crosses the finish line. Factors that influence race time are the time it takes to start the race and the actual sprint (Harrison, 2010). The time to start the race is typically known as reaction time. However, reaction time cannot be trained, whereas reactive ability, a function of explosive strength exhibited in stretch shortening cycles, can be improved (Plink, 2008).
Sprint time is determined on two factors: stride length and stride frequency. There is a positive correlation between stride length and stride frequency (Plink, 2008). Stride frequency is affected by ground contact time during the support phase and flight time during the flight phase (Fletcher, 2009). Because ground contact is a braking force during running, the goal is to reduce the time in the support phase as much as possible. This is one focus of this technical report and study.
Stride length can be broken down into three segments. The first is during the ground support phase. The second is during the recovery (flight) phase, which measures the distance when the runner is unsupported. The last is the drive phase, which is the time the runner is forcing his or her body forward (Fletcher, 2009). Flight distance...