GRF and Acceleration

A drawing of a silver sprinter in the middle of a nice stride with proper forward lean.

Although sprinting and wrestling are two totally different sports, there are some similarities that I’ve been looking at in my quest to better understand how to improve shot speed.

Just like in sprinting, a wrestler taking a shot is looking to move as explosively as possible in a horizontal direction.

No, they’re not identical. However, I feel it may be worth looking at research studies that examine sprinting speed and what influences it the most.

Here’s one study that I found that makes a case for improving horizontal propulsion for sprinters.

Study Breakdown:

Ground reaction force (GRF) is a very popular topic in the sport of sprinting.

And why not?

How much force you can produce with each stride makes a huge impact on how fast you can run.

Typically GRF is divided into 2 categories. The first compares the vertical and horizontal components of each sprinter.

Side note- Based on what I’ve seen in the research thus far, the fastest sprinters are better at directing their force horizontally.

The second is to examine propulsive and braking phases. During a sprint, upon first foot contact, there is a slight period of braking/deceleration before your weight gets over your foot and you begin to produce force to continue sprinting.

By looking at the interaction of these 2 phases, researchers are able to, among other things, get a better understanding of the force being produced with each foot contact.

Previous research has revealed the following ways to optimize GRF.

1. Reduction of horizontal braking forces (not as important for wrestling).

2. Maximize the propulsive horizontal force (pretty important I’d say).

3. Produce a high average vertical GRF (equally, if not more important).

Goal Of Study- The researchers wanted to determine the relationships between normalized ground reaction impulse and sprinting performance during the acceleration phase.

Participants- 36 subjects (31 males and 5 females) from various team sports that involved sprinting. Actual trained and competitive sprinters were not used.

Testing- The subjects performed maximal-effort 25 meter sprints on an indoor track from a standing start.

Relevant Conclusions:

1. Relative horizontal propulsive impulse accounted for 57% of the variance in sprint velocity.

2. Larger relative horizontal propulsive impulses were associated with greater sprinting speeds.

3. Relative horizontal braking impulses accounted for only 7% of variance in sprint velocity. Therefore, the researchers suggest that propulsive forces are much more important for sprinting at high speeds and fast acceleration.

What Does This Mean To Wrestlers:

The more force you can produce off the ground, the more likely you are to run fast.

Building off of this conclusion to make it specific to wrestling, this suggests that your ability to produce force in a horizontal direction may have a direct impact on your shot speed and power.

Paper Referenced

Hunter, J., R. Marshall, P. McNair. Relationships between ground reaction force impulse and kinematics of sprint-running acceleration. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 21, 31-43. 2005.

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Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • So in a nutshell, doing short(say 25m) sprints say 2-3 times a week could produce faster shots.

    What were the starting positions of the runners in this particular study?
    Was it a sprinters start(with or without blocks) or was it hands off the floor?

    Do you think it be good to sprint in a low wrestlers stance as opposed to a more upright position

    • Hey Oliver, I saw you fought somewhere recently on Facebook. How’d it go, where was it, what type of fight, etc.?

      Here’s some info from the study that hopefully helps out, plus some extra too that I figured I’d include:

      The men in the study were track and field, soccer, and touch rugby players. The women we all track and field athletes. The sprints were performed from a standing start and all subjects wore spiked track shoes. GRF data was collected at the 16-meter mark.

      Now as far as the other stuff goes. This post kind of sucks in that I don’t offer up any analysis at the end. I was actually planning on saving that for next week at the conclusion of the other GRF study I’m going to be writing about.

      I don’t know how solid of an answer the study detailed in this post provides simply because a shot covers such a short distance, compared to the 25 meters in this study. However, I think it’d be safe to assume that wrestlers who are able to produce more force against the ground when shooting would certainly be more likely to be faster.

      Personally, I’ve been having the guys I work with do a lot of short distance (the turf strip at my gym is 45 feet long, so maybe they’re going 35 feet) Prowler sprints lately; but I’ll detail more of that in next week’s post.

  • Fought in Sanshou nationals in Lubbock, Texas. Was cutting to 124lb, but no one was there so I bumped up to 133lb. Was first time ever competing in Sanshou. Match was good, kept my combos simple and hit a lot of takedowns. Was fun and awesome!

    And great insight, looking forward to next weeks post.


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