It may seem contradictory, but in order to maximize top end speed, athletes need to understand negative foot speed.
What is negative foot speed?
If you are running forward, you need to put force in the ground behind you. If you’re running 18 mph, your foot has to hit the ground at least at 18 mph or faster to get negative foot speed. If you hit the ground at the same speed that you are moving forward, that is neutral. If you hit the ground at 18.5 mph and you’re moving forward at 18 mph, that is negative foot speed.
This is really important in acceleration. As you continue to run and get into more of an upright position after 8 stride or so, you can to continue to hit the ground with enough speed.
Leg Recovery Drill
To create great negative foot speed, you have to start with great leg recovery. The lying leg recovery is a great drill for this. In this drill, we take gravity out of the picture by lying down. Tell the athlete to crash the calf into the hamstring and strike the heel to the butt as fast as they can. At the same time, the athlete is going to bring the knee up to the block position at a 90-degree angle. It’s important for the athlete to remain straight, but relaxed, and make sure the toe is up. When done correctly, leg recovery becomes an automatic response.
To progress the drill, the athlete would then perform leg recovery while standing. Make sure the athlete claws the ground and has good arm action.