Gaining With A Backwards Step

The 40-yard dash that NFL teams have recruits perform to assess speed is a short-distance, all out race. Some sprinters employ what's called a false step when getting set, just before the 'GO' command. It's a backwards step with the predominant push-off foot that is generally regarded as an inferior technique. To that assumption, researchers from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research say not so fast.

In their study, 27 men started short distance dash events using a step forward, step backward or planted 'anticipation' position. Their progress was measured at 0.9, 2.7 and 5.5 yards. The step forward technique turned out to be a step backwards in terms of performance. The winner was the much maligned 'false step' backwards technique. However, it was ineffective beyond 2.7 yards.

The Bigger Picture: Natural ability and hard training can produce dramatic results in a wide range of athletic contests. Depending on the level of competition, the key to victory often can be found in applying the best technique. It's as true for weight lifting as it is for sprinting or any other physical endeavor.
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