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AN ANALYSIS OF SPRINT

PERFORMANCES
By V. Breizer and J. Zukov

An analysis of sprint performances based on the comparison of split times and


velocities of part-distances in the 100 and 200m by world class and Soviet Union
athletes. The article is a condensed translation from Legkaya Atletika, Moscow,
No. 11, November, 1984. Re-printed with permission from Modern Athlete and
Coach.

THE 100 METRES

Theper f
ormancesoft hewor l
dstopsprintersar ewel labov ethoseofthebesti n
the USSR. In 1983 the top 10 men in the world ranged from 9.93 to 10.16 sec.,
the women from 10.79 to 11.09 sec. The corresponding figures in the USSR
were 10.20 to 10.37 sec. for men and 11.24 to 11.53 sec. for women.

The above statistics raises three questions:

1. How do the competitive performances of the USSR sprinters differ from


t
hewor l
d seli
te?

2. How should the competitive performances of the USSR sprinters be


changed in order to achieve world-class times?

3. What can be expected after the existing performance differences are


eliminated?

Table 1 shows the average splits of the 1972 Munich Olympic finalists, compared
with the same information on USSR top sprinters in 1982. The difference in years
is unimportant, as the Munich Games standards, ranging from 10.14 to 10.33
sec. in the final are well comparable with the Helsinki world championships times
of 10.07 to 10.36 sec.
Looking at the split times of the men reveals that the Soviet sprinters are equal to
the world-class athletes over the 0 to 30m and 60 to 80m part distances.
However, there are noticeable differences in their ability to maintain maximum
speed (80 to 100m) and the transfer from the initial acceleration to maximum
speed (30 to 60m). In other words, the Soviet sprinters match the world-class in
two of the most conservative forms of speed capacity acceleration and
maximum speed.

Female athletes present a different picture. The Soviet sprinters trail the world-
class athletes in every section that requires speed capacities. It indicates
shortcomings in talent selection and specific orientation.

The analysis showed that the Soviet male sprinters di ff


erfrom thewor l
dsbest
considerably. The last are characterized by their maximum speed and the ability
to maintain it. World level women exploit all sections to achieve better
performances. The Soviet female sprinters depend mainly on their initial
acceleration (0 to 30m) and the 30 to 60m section.

Looking at the dynamics of the running velocity of the various sections (table 2),
indicated that all men reach maximum speed in the 60 to 80m section. The initial
starting acceleration is also more or less equal, but world-class sprinters are
faster in the 30 to 60m section. The most notable difference occurs in the ability
to maintain velocity in the 80 to 100m section.

World-class women sprinters maintain maximum velocity in the 30 to 60m and 60


to 80m sections. They have a very fast starting acceleration (72.2%) and
maintain maximum speed (99.2%) virtually until the finish. The Soviet sprinters
follow the same pattern with lower actual velocities. It is interesting to note that
female sprinters maintain maximum, or near maximum, speed over a longer
range than the men. Even the average speed level of women (89.6% for world-
class) exceeds that of the men (86.84%).

To sum it up, the major shortcomings of the male Soviet sprinters are in their
inefficient transfer from acceleration to maximum speed and, in particular, their
inability to maintain maximum speed. The most significant differences of the
women sprinters are in their lower velocity values over the 30 to 60m, 60 to 80m
and 80 to 100m sections. To overcome these shortcomings we recommend a
model for racing performances as shown in table 3.

As can be seen, the average starting acceleration for the men is a relatively low
indicator, based on 68% from the maximum, while the average speed for the
whole distance is expected to reach 98%. The task for the final section (80 to
100m) is 96% from the maximum speed. The suggested velocities for the model
are realistic and slightly below of the world-class performers for men, while the
women smodel cor r
espondsc l
osel ytothewor l
dsbest .

THE 200 METRES

In the 200m the 10 top men in the world recorded in 1983 times between 19.75
and 20.32 sec., compared with 20.46 to 21.02 sec. for USSR sprinters. The
corresponding figures for women were 21.82 to 22.42 sec. for the worl
dsel i
t
e
and 22.80 to 23.46 sec. for the USSR. Table 4 shows the average splits for
world-class and USSR sprinters.
As can be seen the world standards are considerably above those of the Soviet
Union, with some interesting differences between the Soviet men and women.
The men cover all part-distances slower than the world-class sprinters, while the
womenmat chthewor ld
sbesti nt hemaximum speed in the 100 to 150m
section. World-class men are particularly strong in the 0 to 100m and 150 to
200m sections, which shows that fast times require the ability to accumulate
speed effectively (0 to 100m) and maintain it to the end (150 to 200m). The
dynamics of the running velocity of the various sections are shown in table 5.

Table 5 shows that all athletes reach their maximum speed towards the end of
the 100 to 150m section. World-class men succeed mainly because of their
superior maximum speed. They cover the first 100m only in 91.9% from their
maximum speed and maintain 94.1% over the 150 to 200m section. The Soviet
sprinters exploit 93.5% of their maximum speed in the 0 to 100m section and
maintain a 96.3% level in the 150 to 200m part-distance.

World-class women exploit their maximum speed over all sections, although their
maximum velocity of 9.03m/sec. is not extremely high. The Soviet female
sprinters are left behind mainly in the speed maintenance section (150 to 200m).
How to overcome the shortages of the USSR sprinters is best explained in table
6, presenting simple suggested models for men and women.
As can be seen from the table, the model for women aims to reach the maximum
speed in the 100 to 150m section, while average speed remains constant for the
first half of the distance (96%). The same applies to the maintenance of speed
over the 150 to 200m section, with an average of 96% from the maximum. The
96% average for the 0 to 100m and 150 to 200m part-distances is realistic.

The male model is a little more complicated and is based on the changes in the
average speed values over the 0 to 100m and 150 to 200m sections relative to
the absolute velocity. When the absolute values for the maximum speed increase
in the 100 to 150m section, there is a drop in the relative speed values in the 0 to
100m and 150 to 200m sections. It should also be noted that difficulties to follow
the model can occur over the first half of the distance when the model values are
closet otheat hl
etesbest100m time. Consequently, the main task to improve
200m times is for men in the development of maximum speed.