Elite sprint technique kinematics


PhD, Associate Professor O.M. Mirzoev1
1Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports, Youth and Tourism (SCOLIPE), Moscow

Keywords: World Championship, 60m sprint, sprint time and speed, stride length and frequency, competitive accomplishments, semifinals, finals.

Background. Any athletic career is designed for expected competitive accomplishments, with the progress towards the latter testable by a variety of tools to assess many progress aspects including technical mastery. 

Objective of the study was to analyze a variety of aspects of competitive performance in the modern elite sprint sport.

Methods and structure of the study. We analyzed for the study purposes the video captures of the top eight sprinters’ competitive performance in the 2018 (XVII) IAAF World Indoor Championship in Birmingham, the UK. Subject to the analysis were the sprint technique elements including time and speed, stride length and frequency in the 60m men’s semifinals and finals, plus the relevant formal competitive records.

Study findings and discussion. The sprint technique kinematics analysis for the top competitors in the World Indoor Championship showed the following: the competitive results varied within the range of 6.37-6.64s; with the variation range (competitiveness rate) in the semifinals (0.14s) being higher than in the finals (0.27s) – that may be interpreted as indicative of the fierce competition for the place in the top eight. (According to the rules of the championship, there were three semifinals, with the quickest two competitors in each qualified for the final, plus two more athletes with the best scores in all three events).

Christian Coleman won the 60 meters final (10.02.2018) with the new world record of 6.34s, having improved his own result in the semifinal by 0.08s. It may be stated with confidence that the progress of the 2018 winter season leader was achieved due to the stride frequency being increased and the stride length decreased. He covered the 60 meters by 29.73 strides, with the stride frequency and stride length estimated at 4.69 strides per second and 2.03m, respectively. Second best Su Bingtian from China finished with the national and continental records – also due to the improved stride frequency that made it possible for him to make progress in the individual best by 0.10s. The stride frequency was also the key factor for success of Zhenye Xie, the fourth in 6.52. Success of Ronnie Baker, the third best, from the US, in my opinion, was due to both factors with the leading role played by the stride frequency. Jan Volko and Sean Sefo-Antwi failed to show progress in the above aspects of their sprint technique and, hence, no progress in the competitive result. Emre Zafer Barnes, a Jamaica-born Turkish sprinter, was tested with regress in the stride frequency – and it could be the key factor for his poor performance in the final. Hassan Taftian from Iran made progress in the stride length versus a minor regress in the stride frequency, and showed one of his best performances in the final as a result. Therefore, the stride frequency may be considered the leading contributor to the run speed in the 60/ 100 meters [1, 2].

Every individual precompetitive training tactics should be customized to the seasonal competitive schedule to ensure the peak form being attained by the time of competitions. The sport form management during, for instance, the whole winter season is critical for the individual competitive fitness and determined by the coach’s mastery in the training system design and management. Thus the world champion in the 60 meter race came in 6.37 seconds on January 19, 2018 followed by his new world record only one month later, and again finished in 6.37s on March 03, 2018 – that means that he was able to maintain the top special physical fitness for as long as 43 days, and this was the key reason for his leadership in the 60 meter race in the 2018 winter season. It should be noted, that a year before, in 2017, he was on top of the list of the world best sprinters in the 100 meters. As seen from Table 1, two athletes from China also managed to attain their peak sport form by the time of the global event, and one of them managed to make the individual best for his athletic career together with the athlete from Ghana. As far as the other finalists are concerned, their results in the world championship and the individual best times for the season are not that different.

Table 1. Competitive accomplishments of the 2018 (XVII) IAAF World Indoor Championship finalists in the 60 meters



Competitive accomplishments

World Championship

Seasonal best

Best in 2017

Career best


Christian Coleman*

6,37 s

6,34 s

6,45 s

6,34 s


Su Bingtian*

6,42 s

6,43 s

6,50 s

6,50 s


Ronnie Backer

6,44 s

6,40 s

6,45 s

6,40 s


Zhenye Xie*

6,52 s

6,59 s

6,64 s

6,54 s


Hassan Taftian*

6,53 s

6,51 s

6,55 s

6,51 s


Jan Volko*

6,58 s

6,57 s

6,58 s

6,57 s


Sean Safo-Antwi

6,59 s

6,64 s

6,56 s

6,55 s


Emre Zafer Barnes*

6,58 s

6,55 s

6,70 s

6,55 s

Note: the seasonal and career best results refer to the period prior to the 2018 (XVII) IAAF World Indoor Championship; *qualifiers for the 100 meters in 2017 World Championship in London

Chronicles of the successive qualifications for the winter and summer top-ranking events are also characteristic of the individual competitive fitness management quality. It is rather traditional for the indoor events being ranked lower than the outdoor ones in the modern elite sports. For example, Usain St. Leo Bolt, a retired Jamaican sprinter, never competed in the indoor championships for his whole career. Such decisions of the top athletes may be motivated by the following reasons (it should be noted that an Olympic cycle includes two winter and summer IAAF world championships):

– One of the indoor world championships is always scheduled for the year of Olympics (as was the case, for instance, in 2016) and the continental European championship. That is why the athletes normally opt for the Olympics in their training system design and ignore indoor world championships;

– The second indoor world championship is scheduled for the middle of the pre-Olympic training cycle. It is only natural that the elite athletes give a special priority to the pre-Olympic year with its summer world championship that provides a top-ranking test ground for the pre-Olympic fitness and competitive situation. Many athletes design their pre-Olympic training cycles so as to either skip the season or scale down the competitive process intensity by limiting it to only, e.g., summer continental (where the competition is not as fierce as in the world championships) or commercial events. Some will opt, for instance, for the 2018 European Championship (hosted by Berlin) in August;

– In the period following the summer world championships, many elite athletes find it advantageous to take a break for rehabilitation, therapeutic, training system revision and other purposes;

– The long summer competitive period since May through September leaves virtually no time to rehabilitate and get fit for the winter world championship starting up in early March. As provided, for example, by the formal IAAF calendar for 2017, the top ranking sport events took place from May through September;

– The top-ranking indoor competitions are more limited in the lists of sport disciplines than the outdoor ones;

– The indoor competitive routines normally differ in their techniques and tactics from their outdoor versions and, hence, require special adjustments to the training systems; and

– Many elite sprinters tend to skip the indoor world championships since the 200 meters event was excluded from the program in 2006. 

The above precompetitive training aspects and considerations are valid not only for the sprinters specialized in the 60/ 100 meters, but for some other track sports. The top sprinters competing in the 60 meters are often same successful in the 100 meters. Six out of eight 2018 (XVII) IAAF World Indoor Championship finalists, for instance, competed in the 2017 IAAF World Indoor Championship, with two of them – Christian Coleman and Su Bingtian (the first Chinese sprinter who run out of 10.00s) – making it to the final where they were the 2nd and 8th, respectively.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses demonstrate the competitive success in the 60/ 100 meter race being directly correlated with the stride frequency. The athletes and coaches shall have due knowledge and skills to effectively apply special exercises for a purposeful improvement in this component of the athletic mastery, particularly in terms of the training process tactics in the precompetitive training and competitive cycles. A special priority given to this aspect of a multiannual training process, particularly at the elite training and sport mastery excellence stages, may improve the competitive performance of the national elite sprinters specializing in the 60/100 meter race.


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  3. Home of World Athletic. International Association of Athletic Federations [Electronic resource]. Available at: http://www.iaaf.org. (date of access: 14-15.03.2018)

Corresponding author: prorector@mail.ru

The study analyzes the technique kinematics of elite sprinters in the 2018 (XVII) IAAF World Indoor Championship in Birmingham, the UK. Subject to the analysis were the sprint technique elements including stride length and frequency rated in the 60m men’s final. The analysis of the individual sprint techniques demonstrated by 8 strongest competitors in two rounds of the event found the leading kinematic rates critical for the speed on distance. The study reports and analyzes the specific sprint speed, stride length and frequency data versus the competitive accomplishments of the best sprinters in the winter competitive season. The study data and analyses demonstrate the roles of the winter and summer World Championships for the world sprint elite.