How can I sprint faster?

The quest for perfection

During my career as an athlete people said my sprinting style was unusual, with my upright posture and short strides. But effective technique is effective technique. People think what the majority do is right but that is not necessarily the case. My technique was more efficient, but nobody had seen it before.

If you want your car to go faster, you push the accelerator. When you sprint think of your arms as your accelerators. Your arms drive your legs, not the other way round. It's like you when you're watching a Western – imagine pulling two guns out of their holsters. You have to be quick. If you pull out those guns too slowly you are going to get shot!

So what can you learn from the best athletes, that could help you to sprint faster?

Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic champion and BBC Sport pundit.
Presened by Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic champion and BBC Sport pundit.

Sprinting masterclass

Usain Bolt is the best there has ever been, but what is it that makes him such a phenomenal sprinter?

Michael Johnson breaks down Usain Bolt's technique, and explains how Bolt's longer stride pattern helped him to victory over Justin Gatlin in the 200m final at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.

Bolt upright

Michael Johnson explains the key elements that led to Bolt becoming in his opinion "the greatest athlete of all time".

Use the arrows to scroll through a slow motion video of Usain Bolt's sprinting technique.

How the 100m keeps getting quicker

An illustration of how the winning time in the men's 100 metres Olympic final has decreased from Thomas Burke's time of 12 seconds in the first modern games in 1896.
An illustration of how the winning time in the men's 100 metres Olympic final has decreased from Thomas Burke's time of 12 seconds in the first modern games in 1896.

How you can run faster

Michael Johnson offers priceless tips to amateur sprinters on how to maximise their potential:

  • At the starting line, visualise the race in your head. Have a race strategy and stick to it. Embrace the pressure of competing.

  • The start is hugely important. Maintain a forward body angle of around 45 degrees, so you can drive your legs back into the ground. While in the start position keep your eyes focused on the ground and maintain a straight line from head to toe.

  • Use an exaggerated arm drive in the drive phase (early part of the race). Pump your hands from chin level to hip by rotating through your shoulders.

  • The transition to an upright position is fluid and gradual. Never jerk your head up. Raise your eye level from the ground to straight ahead.

  • Ensure your position, ground contact phases and arm action all work together to maintain your form throughout the race, while at full speed.

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