The 100m sprint comprises five separate but interlinked components which the athlete must be trained to recognise. These elements must be trained specifically if the athlete is to become a competent performer and maximise true potential in the event.
1. Reaction time
The athlete is required to make a rapid physical response to the external stimulus of the starting pistol which allows a smooth clearance off the starting blocks. Reaction time is measured by the time taken between the introduction of the stimulus and the first muscular reaction or movement performed by the athlete.
2. Starting ability
The ability to push out from the starting-blocks cleanly and powerfully is crucial to success in the 100m. The athlete must adopt a mechanically sound starting position and generate great power in order to overcome inertial and frictional forces in the opening strides.
The athlete must accelerate from the starting blocks to maximum velocity in as short a time as possible. A low body position should be maintained in the first 20m, with most of the upper body above and forward of the centre of mass. There should be a sense of driving the track behind the body as the athlete gradually rises to an upright posture. The athlete must then strive to increase velocity over as great a distance as they are able to.
4. Maintaining speed
Maintaining high horizontal speed (speed endurance) can be achieved through good striding technique, which allows an equal emphasis on work performed behind and in front of the centre of mass (e.g. ‘high knees in front, full leg extension behind’). There is a feeling of bounce in the lower limbs as the athlete embarks on a brief period of flight in the recovery phase of each stride.
5. Overcoming deceleration
The athlete must stay relaxed but strive to resist an inevitable decline in velocity in the final stages of the sprint performance. There should be an emphasis on work performed ahead of the centre of mass (e.g. ‘high knees, high hands in front’). The purpose here is to lighten and reduce the duration of foot-strike in order to sustain the rate of cadence in the tiring legs.