Skip to content
Destiny Ogali Sprint Competition Prep

Sprint Competition Prep: 2023 Edition


As the outdoor season quickly approaches, it's the perfect opportunity to discuss what "getting ready" can practically look like for you as a sprinter.

Your preparation may look completely different to mine or any other sprinter, for that matter. And that's absolutely fine! It's about finding what works best for YOU. The important thing is to get to know your body. Our body often lets us know we need to stop, and we often ignore it wanting to press on. As much as we may wish to train, we have to prioritise rest also to help reduce the chances of injury.

Your training and preparation for the season will likely revolve around reducing your load (which I'm sure many sprinters will be happy about). This is because the work will hopefully have already been done over the winter months. Once the work is done, you can tailor everything to suit. You and your coach can look at the programme and see what needs to be altered to ensure the correct training methods are being integrated as you prepare to race.

Having the right kind of preparation is vital to help aid high-level performances as the months go on. In sprinting, it's all about patience. These things take time. As we go through these different points, try and give yourself time to really develop as an athlete and a person. Many of the essential skills you learn in training are also very valuable in real life situations.

Destiny Ogali Shoe Spikes


The best way to prepare for a sprint competition is to be organised.

I can assure you, the more organised you are, the better you'll feel on the day. This means having your block settings sorted and comfortable, so you aren't panicking about your start. This also means having your nutrition and kit pre-packed before you leave in the morning. You may ask, why is this so important? One word. STRESS. You want to avoid any unnecessary stress when leading up to a race. The day can often be very mentally exhausting with the various emotions we go through. Whatever you can do to ensure that all the external factors are taken care of will massively help you.

As an athlete, you also have to take responsibility. Having the support of your coach, parents, and friends is fantastic. However, it is ultimately you that's running on the day. So, if necessary, make a checklist a week or two in advance of everything that you need for the day. This can be from your snacks all the way down to your spikes. Being able to go to bed knowing that you have everything you need will put your mind at ease. You want to be as relaxed as possible. Any unneeded added stress can ultimately harm your performance.

Sprinters Preparing for Race


Some rules are standard for most competitions, and the odd few depend on the country you are racing in or the level of the meet.


Things like spike length being 6mm are a standard rule. This ensures that all sprinters are running using the same height of spikes, which makes sprint events a level playing field. Therefore, always check you have the correct shoe spikes before heading to any race.


Another rule to be aware of is the headphone rule. This is one that I have had to be reminded of by officials on various occasions. You are not allowed to use headphones whilst warming up at most races. This is a definite for Southerns, Nationals, London inter-club challenge, and National League meets. This rule is for safety reasons as well as practicality. Many athletes with headphones on are likely to be unaware of an athlete running towards them, which can result in injuries we don't want. A lot of the headphones these days are also noise cancelling which is excellent if you want to avoid hearing outside noise, but not so great when at a competition where results and changes to the schedule are announced on a loudspeaker for all athletes to hear.


Many competitions also have a set time for call room and collecting numbers/bibs. This information is normally provided within the athlete information sheets sent via email before the competition. I would definitely suggest familiarising yourselves with these policies to ensure you can get to where you need to be on time. If you are late to call room or your bib collection, they are well within their right to stop you from competing.

Respect towards officials is also an essential rule in the athlete information sheets sent out. This covers how you, as the athlete, would address and communicate with the officials. The officials hold the right to disqualify an athlete for repeated warnings of disrespect or rudeness of any sort. As much as I'm sure this is unlikely to be the case with any of you, it's still essential to cover this as it can happen.

Athletics Coach and Sprint Athletes


As an athlete, you want to know as much information about what you're doing and why you're doing it as possible. The more you know about what you're doing, the better prepared you are. And the more you understand why you're doing it, the more likely you will place further emphasis on said practice.

With that being said, you should be asking questions such as "how can I improve this?". This is always a great question to ask because it shows your willingness to want to get better. This question allows you and your coach to break down how to improve a specific movement, skill or exercise that will only help improve you overall as an athlete. Further questions such as "can we incorporate this into our training?" show initiative on your part as the athlete. Being able to go away and look into things that will help you as an athlete and then being able to approach your coach to see where this can fit within the program shows ingenuity. You, of course, trust the judgement of your coach, but you also want to try things out and see where it leads.


Even simple questions such as "how long will we be doing this?" are fantastic because they reinforce the S.M.A.R.T method, which encourages specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals. Knowing how long you will be doing a particular form of training helps you better understand the importance of that specific training method. If you're doing something for a shorter period (i.e., a couple of weeks), it could be more of a specific exercise or session that's required to suit your needs.

On the other hand, if the training method is going on for an extended period, this could mean your coach wants to reinforce a movement pattern, energy system or specific technique with the hope of seeing improvement as weeks or months go by. Asking that question will help you really understand your programme better as a whole.

Female Athlete Preparing for Race


Developing athletic skills, much like anything, takes time. And this requires patience. You and your coach must devise a specific plan to help build you as an athlete. This will often start with drills.

Developing those initial basic movement patterns will help you improve your overall technique, as there are many facets to sprinting. Repetitions are essential, so you'll want to practise these movements as often as possible to help with muscle memory. The gains may be minimal to start with, but as you progress and get stronger, you'll be much better off than if you hadn't spent all that time on the basics.


Another way to develop athletic skills is by observation. Being a student of the game is often overlooked. Try to spend some time watching your favourite sprinters racing and drilling on YouTube. It isn't a case of comparing yourself to them or just copying, but being able to pick up on the more minor things that they do within their race model. Your running style may be completely different, and that is fine. It's about being smooth and fluid.

Having analysis sessions with your coach can also be very helpful. Often seeing yourself on video can feel strange, but when you can pick up on minor errors in your technique early on, it can massively help you in the future as you develop.

Male Athlete Preparing for Sprint Race


Finally, I would advise you to just have fun with it all! Enjoy your season, enjoy being in the environment and enjoy the process. It's all a learning process, so don't be too hard on yourself if things don't go to plan. Don't feel the need to compare yourself to others, either. Always remember that you are an individual on your own specific journey!


Destiny Ogali Neuff Athletic Blogger

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.

Instagram: @destinyogali & @thevisionspod

Previous article Young Athlete Development: Good Movements
Next article Sprinters: Preparing for the New Athletics Season

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields