Tips for a Successful Race: The Sprints
"Explode out of the blocks!" "Make sure to establish the drive phase!" "Move arms from side to side instead of front to back!" "Accelerate!" "Head down!"
These can all be thoughts on a sprinter's brain when they are setting themselves into the starting blocks. All runners want to be sure that they execute the things they've been practicing as soon as the gun goes off. They want to have the perfect race in order to get a much-improved time.
Every little thing matters, especially in a sprint or hurdle race; however, what is going on in the brain when the race starts is, perhaps, what matters most.
Athletes want to make sure that your brain is as clear as possible when stepping up to the starting line. Being overly conscious of pressure can add stress to your body and even slow you down. The mental stress can take a toll on your muscles by making them tense, even unconsciously.
When the muscles are tense, it's much harder for them to expand and reach maximum fluidity in running. Here are a few things athletes can do to improve on how to bring some calmness to the brain:
Listening to one of your favorite songs
Sometimes this will help you focus or lose some of the other thoughts and tensions you may have scrambling around in your head.
Quieting your brain
However, some people may need to turn off electronic devices in order to concentrate better. Everyone is different, so you may need to figure out which one fits you the best. Sometimes this can help to clear the thoughts from the brain.
Only concentrating on a few pieces of execution
You don't want to flood your brain with too many thoughts. Ask your coach for the Top 3 things to concentrate on for your next race and hone in on those. Be sure to keep them simple. Process is relative -- so don't confuse your body by trying to perfect the art all at once. It can be as simple as saying: "Explode, drive phase, accelerate!" Repeat over and over again in your head from your warm-up to the time you get into your blocks.
With these tips in hand, you'll be prepped to take on the racing world!