I often ask our athletes where their speed comes from. Most responses include legs, hips, glutes and strength. While all of these parts of the body are included in speed, the athlete is often surprised to find out how much a part the arms play in speed.
Proper arm action is essential for increasing speed because the arms stabilize your torso, which lets power efficiently transfer through your hips and legs. The tempo of your arms controls the action of your legs. Increasing the speed of a correct arm swing will force your feet to turnover faster. The legs will always match the speed of your arms and never the reverse!
If an athlete’s arms cross over the mid-line of the body during sprinting, he or she will be leaking energy and have an unbalanced center of gravity, which will reduce efficiency. This will cause the athlete to slow down and struggle with endurance. Forward momentum will also be diminished.
In order for your arms to produce power and speed the athlete needs to maintain a 90-degree elbow angle, which will ensure your power is pushing you forward, not side to side (this would be like driving with your parking brake on). The hand is open rather than in a clenched fist, which reduces resistance. The thumb should reach the height of the back pocket on the back swing, and the cheek on the upswing, adding the maximum power push.
Get your arms right; you’ll be faster. At Parisi Speed School we know that when we get the arms moving correctly increased running speed will follow. This is one of the first things we teach our athletes.