Essential Equipment for Sprinters
BY DESTINY OGALI
As a sprinter, I've learnt that we use all sorts of athletics equipment in various ways depending on the session. No piece of equipment is more important than the other since each has its specific purpose.
Below, I've listed some essential athletics gear that all sprinters should and hopefully will be using regularly to help aid their training. Some of these items may seem somewhat unimportant, but to my amazement, they have helped me greatly over the years. I'm still learning myself, of course, and some of these training aids are more difficult to use and understand in comparison to others. However, this blog will hopefully inform you and provide insight into some of the things that sprinters may use to help improve their performances!
A GOOD PAIR OF TRAINERS AND SPIKES
You may be wondering… "trainers and spikes"? That's a given, surely?
You would think so. However, you would be astonished at the number of high-level sprinters that don't possess a good pair of trainers and spikes. Many top athletics and sports brands create a wide array of trainers and spikes that get quickly snapped up by the vast majority of sprinters, mainly due to the increased amount of "new" technology being developed.
It is so vital to ensure that the trainers and spikes you wear are fit for purpose and serve YOU accordingly. The trainers are supposed to provide you with cushion, stability and comfort whilst running. If your trainers do not offer these things, then you run the risk of injury. The same goes for your spikes.
I would suggest sprinters try various pairs from different brands to see what works best for them and their running style.
STOPWATCHES FOR SPRINTERS
For many of us athletes, our coaches serve as our human stopwatches, giving us timing reps and recovery without even needing to ask. This, of course, is great and saves us from worrying about these things.
However, this does not diminish the need and necessity to own a personal stopwatch that can and should be worn often (to get used to, of course, as it can be off-putting initially). The stopwatch has many functions (depending on which one you use), and having your own allows you to collect more data for yourself when your coach isn't around.
If you're in the gym with timed recovery, it is much more efficient to press the button on the watch to start your timer instead of counting in your head or using your phone. If you're in a group and you're doing back-to-back runs with short recovery, you'll need to be able to time your recovery, as it's likely that your coach will need help timing everyone at the same time.
These serve such a great purpose for sprinters. For drills like step-ups and jumps etc, they are very useful depending on the size of the bench and the level of the athlete.
Having these boxes readily available makes it easy to do some form of plyometric work throughout the season. Power is a key component to sprinting performance as we need to exert high levels of force into the ground whilst propelling ourselves forward. This requires the athlete to be able to jump far and high to replicate these movements and train the body to do them efficiently and consistently. Having this piece of equipment will help aid this process.
The use of resistance bands in my training has increased over recent years. In the early stages of my training, I rarely used them. However, as you get stronger and develop as an athlete, they become more and more useful.
You can use them for various exercises and muscle-strengthening drills. They provide the necessary tension (depending on the resistance level) required to work the specific muscles for a set period of time. You can also use them to work on hip flexibility & strength, shoulder flexibility & strength, as well as injury prevention.
For ankle and mobility injuries, physiotherapists will often advise the athletes to use resistance bands as a sure-fire way to restore the injured and affected areas. This definitely helped me when I was injured last season. They also cover a range of other uses, such as in the gym for core and strength-based exercises. And exercises like resistance band speed squats will really help with explosive power!
MINI HURDLES OR "WICKETS"
Mini Hurdles or "wickets", as some people call them, are greatly useful for many reasons.
They serve many purposes and can be used for different training areas. In regards to technique, you can use them to teach and implement proper forefoot landing and leg angles/positioning whilst going over them.
You can also practice a wide array of drills over these mini hurdles. Mini hurdles are also very effective for upright running and fast repetitions. Running over them helps to improve and alter stride length.
Your stride length is how long each stride you take is in relation to your height. The mini hurdles would be measured against your stride length and can then be shortened or lengthened depending on your coach's discretion.
These mini hurdles can also be used for jumps and hops. They can be evenly spaced and used for double-footed and various single-leg jump variations, which improves ankle and foot strength and mobility. They can also be used with normal-sized hurdles to vary the heights and distances to challenge the athlete further.
SPEED AGILITY HURDLES
These are a great option for athletes who are looking for small, easy to use hurdles!
You could be a beginner in sprinting, or you could be a young athletes who needs hurdles of a lower height. They come in three different heights and come in either a pack of 5 or 10!
Neuff Athletic has these on their website right here for you to look at.
Resistance training is an integral part of overall sprint training.
Sled runs are beneficial for a number of reasons. Pulling a sled with a weight on it instead of just running freely will gradually improve the athlete's overall strength and ability to run with and without resistance. By improving your overall strength, this will help with speed development due to greater force production, which can directly translate into speed on the track.
Secondly, they help in correcting technical errors. Having some slight resistance whilst running helps the coach to see any glaring issues when pushing off and within full flight. If the athlete is making said errors whilst running with resistance, then it is possible that these errors can creep up within a race where natural resistance, such as wind, may play a factor.
And thirdly, sleds are a great way of reinforcing the three main stages within a race, which are...
- Acceleration phase
- Transition phase
- Maximum velocity phase
Of course, this depends on how far you run with the sled. This is something for you to bear in mind!
This, again, may seem like a given. However, it is a very vital piece of equipment for sprinters.
Athletes will have different settings depending on things like height, dominant leg etc. Perfecting your block start takes a lot of commitment and practice over some time. The point of the blocks is to enable yourself to push forwards and achieve a better start, as opposed to a standing or crouched one.
It requires a good amount of upper body strength as well as a strong core and lower body. Elite athletes can shift their centre of mass forwards to mimic better the sensation of "falling forwards", enabling them to achieve a better push-off in the process. Younger athletes may not yet necessarily need blocks while they're still developing and learning the technical aspect of sprinting.
Every sprinter should have recovery tools that can be used before, during and after sessions. It's vital to ensure that your body is looked after well.
Good recovery tools such as foam rollers, massage guns and massage therapy will help reduce the chances of injury and better prepare you for future sessions.
Other good recovery tools such as sleep, baths and good nutrition also massively help keep your body in the best shape possible. It's also important to know your body personally and what it needs. Some athletes may respond poorly to a lot of these examples.
As an athlete, you'll have to develop a further understanding of your needs and what works best for you. This can be a challenge, especially with younger athletes or ones that are new to the sport and who are yet to have the necessary knowledge to know what they need. A good coaching set-up and support system will help with this issue as they can guide the athlete accordingly with their decision-making.
All of these examples have their negatives and positives, so please make sure to research each of these methods carefully to ensure your body is well taken care of.
WHAT SPRINT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED?
These are not ALL of the necessary pieces of equipment for sprinting athletes. However, I hope that through this blog, you'll find some helpful information that can aid you in your athletics or even teach your coaches or parents a thing or two!
Adding some of the above athletics equipment to your kit can make a real difference to your overall performance when utilised effectively. Why not have a browse and see what's available to you? You may find something that you never knew you needed!
ABOUT DESTINY OGALI
Destiny is a sprinting athlete who competes for Harrow AC, and he is incredibly passionate about helping other sprinters and athletes go further in their athletic journeys!
He already has experience in discussing athletics topics with others through The Visions Podcast, where he has sat down and spoken with some great athletes, including Desiree Henry and Aidan Syers!
You can find Destiny's sprint performances on his Power of 10 profile.