Usain Bolt: Sprinting Technique

Copy Usain Bolt's form to acheive a near perfect sprint

by Kerry McCarthy

usain bolt sprinting
Credit: AFP_Getty Images

He's broken the 100m world record three times and the 200m world record twice - but can Usain Bolt run even faster? Judging by the way he slowed down at the Olympic 100m final 10m from the finish, there's room for improvement.

His form, according to his coach Glen Mills, isn't perfect. Bolt needs to eradicate lateral movement of the torso when he's pumping his arms. If he sorts this out, what is his potential? "I've heard that the fastest man can go is 9.4 seconds for 100m," says Bolt. "I think it's possible for me to run that."

The perfect form

RW contributing editor and coach Nick Anderson ( explains how you can achieve the perfect running form (and high speeds) when sprinting:


Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and your head upright in line with the rest of the body. Keep the shoulders straight and avoid lateral rotation.

Pretend you're being pulled upwards by a string at the top of your head to achieve hip height. A strong mid-section is needed to keep them there and prevent collapse on impact.


Push your knees forwards and up high. This will generate more power, encourage a longer stride and cover more distance.


When the foot is coming towards the ground, lift the toes up towards the shin so your foot is horizontal. You should land on the midfoot, with the foot underneath the body, not in front.

Arms should be loosely held at right angles and driven back at the elbow as far as possible. On the swing back forwards, pump your hands to shoulder level.

These should come off the floor and travel high in an arc towards the bum, almost flicking it, before travelling through to the front.

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Usain Bolt, sprinting, running technique

Discuss this article

I am sorry to be the first to say this but anyone looking at the technique Usain Bolt employed in smashing those records would say that the technique was full of flaws.

This just makes his achievements even more amazing! Just for starters, his upper body moved from side to side (indicating a need to improve core strength) his arm shape was flailing in the driveback phase which is a massive ineffieciency and his hips rotate slightly as well. I believe Michael Johnson did a documentary on how he would make Usain faster.

It seems he has done strength work in the winter season to remedy this and I think when he is fully fit we will see these records broken again - because his technique is improving. But to suggest people should try and imitate him would be wrong. They should try to emulate him - even Usain Bolt is working hard to get better!

Definitely worth checking out @margotwells or @wellfastltd for an Olympic sprint coaches take on technique - would suggest Runners World contact her for her opinions as well - she is great at speaking exactly what she thinks! 

Posted: 14/07/2011 at 11:19

It's a bit like when Paula Radcliffe first came to prominence and was criticised for her running technique. The nodding head etc.

Didn't prevent her "smashing" the marathon world record and I guess that when you're as phenomenally talented as her or Bolt, running naturally is more important.

Posted: 14/07/2011 at 14:16

I'm not saying it's correct but some changes IN NATRUAL TECHNIQUE MAY ACTUALLY TIGHTEN THE MUSCLES AND MAKE THEM MORE INEFFICIENT! Food for thought.
Posted: 17/04/2012 at 05:22

Many ways to skin a cat. The purists always have a problem with these 'flawed' performers. Look at Bubba Watson winning the Masters. Just because something doesn't look pretty, it doesn't always follow that its wrong. Sure, Bolt could be better, but does he have to be? On reflection, yes. Its results that count, unfortunately the chances of Paula Radcliffe getting another one are slim, the days of her getting away with stupid levels of training finished about nine years ago.
Posted: 17/04/2012 at 06:52

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