With the European Championships in full swing in Barcelona, I turned my Sports Vision to Athletics...
When sprinters start from the blocks, in order to keep aligned their head needs to be down so that they’re in the most aerodynamic position.
Watching Asafa Powell compete at Gateshead recently, he seemed to keep his head down longer than all the other competitors in the race, and it helped him at the start of the race even if he wasn’t the quickest to react to the gun. Sadly for him, he was overtaken towards the end of the race by Tyson Gay, and the same thing happened a week later when he lost to Usain Bolt in
Fixating a point a few metres ahead can help to keep the head in the correct position. As the athlete comes to a more erect position, fixation needs to move to a point above the track, past the finishing point.
When running indoors, some athletes change their head posture in response to the wall in front of them in anticipation of having to stop rapidly (www.runningmechanics.com). To avoid this, they should be encouraged either to fixate a point on the wall that’s about head height above the ground, or to adopt a soft focus, as if they’re able to look through the wall.
When I go jogging around the park, I find that focusing on one point in the distance helps me to run better. If I imagine that I’m attached by a rope to that point, and that I’m being winched in, I can keep going for longer even if I’m feeling tired. As I approach the “winch”, I refocus on another distant point and start again.