Knee drive is a critical part of running but the overall thought process behind teaching knee drive is incorrect. Most people focus too much on "learning" knee drive rather than concentrating on the correct thought process to improve sprinting. In this piece, I'll explain why coaching knee drive is a myth and how to get faster.
I was able to improve my top speed consistently by following the method I'm going to elaborate on here.
Overall, it is important to get your knees to a certain height when sprinting but the actual methodology I follow is not to focus on this part exclusively. Let's take a deeper look at my thought process when I sprint to understand what I mean.
Before diving deep into the phenomenon of why coaching knee drive is a myth, let's first understand what is knee drive and why is it important.
What is Knee Drive in Sprinting and Why is it Important?
When you are sprinting your body follows a set of motions. The most important part is when you bring your foot down and hit the ground in this process. This is when the knee drive starts and ends with how high your knee goes naturally with this motion. For every runner, it can make or break their sprint.
My Thought Process (Incorporating the Knee Drive Naturally)
- The focus when sprinting should not be to drive the knees up into a horizontal position
- Your mind should focus more on being able to have a lot of force downwards in the ground (the horizontal force should be coming into the ground)
- This horizontal force is going to create a rebound (My foot is able to absorb the weight of the downward force and is able to push back off)
- The process has nothing to do with how high my knee goes, rather it's geared towards forcefully bringing my foot downward
- After striking the ground with your foot, you should drive your leg through primarily thinking about speed at this point
How Most Coaches Get the Knee Drive Wrong?
Most coaches when they talk about knee drive, they talk about generating force off the ground. My process is actually the reverse of it and it has been giving me very positive results without causing any injury.
Basically, if you focus on generating your force while lifting your foot off the ground and driving your knee up, your foot will be too far right behind you when you push your foot off the ground. you'll end up slowing down rather than improving your speed.
Two Common Issues When Struggling With Knee Drive
Most people when struggling with knee drive tend to become very stiff in their hamstring (one or both) or in their lower-backs. This ruins the quality of their knee dive and affects their overall performance negatively.
The Force into the Ground
Many people are not able to generate enough force into the ground simply because their "coach" told them to generate that force when lifting their feet off the ground. This opposite motion destroys a knee drive rather than improving it.
As someone who has first-hand experience at this, I know the body mechanics at work in this process and I assure you that the force should go into the ground for a knee drive and not the other way round.
How to Improve Your Knee Drive (How to Get Faster?)
To improve your knee drive you don't want to go for any strengthening exercises (as commonly suggested). The only thing I'll recommend is to get your foot up and through as you are driving that foot underneath you.
The thing you would want to avoid is focussing on trying to get your knee up in the motion. This causes a negative cycle overall in your sprint.
I hope I was able to convey the process to you. If you want to see this entire process, watch this video to get a clearer picture.
I hope you found this information to be a valuable addition to your knowledge about sprinting. Now you know why coaching knee drive is a myth. If you have any questions or something important to say, please leave a comment below.