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False Step in Sprinting

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

“Why would you step backwards if you want to go forwards.” Have you ever heard your coach tell you that it’s counterproductive to step backwards if you need to sprint forwards?

Now yes, there is some merit to this, especially the athlete is in a stationary starting position. But in the world of chaos that is sport, majority of the time athletes will need to sprint from a moving position.

The false step is then used to position the athlete so they can push behind their body, to push themselves forwards. Without the false step athletes will tend to ‘fall’ and reach, which results in much slower movements.

In the first video, Hugh is going through starting positions where we aren’t looking for a false step, as it will change his centre of mass in the opposite direction we are looking to see.

In the second video, we have Hugh utilising the false step to position his COM in a way that allows him to produce more power and a faster acceleration.

When the athlete can be in a fixed position to accelerate from, we don’t want to use a false step. Whereas, in a chaotic landing or reaction to a stimulus, a false step is beneficial and a faster way to start.

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