Explosive Starts Part II: Shin Angle

Shin angle is a critical and often misunderstood aspect of maximizing acceleration speed.

Part I of this series discussed projection angle, and here we discuss shin angle.

Imagine yourself skiing (if you’ve never done it before, don’t worry–I never have either). You take your poles and thrust them into the ground to push yourself forward.

How do you put the poles in the ground? Do you put them in front of you, straight down, or behind you?

You probably put them into the ground angled slightly behind you, right? Putting them in front of you would slow you down, pushing them straight down would push you up more than forward, but putting them down and behind you pushes you forward.

The shin works the exact same way while running. Speed during the first 2-3 steps is significantly impacted by the angle at which your shin hits the ground.

If your foot is too far out in front of you, your shin isn’t angled enough, and your first steps aren’t as fast or explosive as they could be.

Ideally, the foot lands right underneath your hips on your first step, like in the picture below.

Shin angle and foot position at touchdown of first step.

For bonus points, this athlete’s shin angle matches his torso angle. He has maximized his body’s leverage to give him the most explosive start possible.

Luckily, this is something that is fairly easy to coach and learn. Take a look at the pictures below, taken just minutes apart from each other


The first picture shows a flat-footed landing with her foot way out in front of her–under her armpit. The second picture shows a much better (and faster) first step. Her foot is closer to her hips—this time roughly under her belly button—and she’s landing on the ball of her foot.

It’s not perfect, but it’s much, much better.

If you want to maximize speed, you have to understand how to put your body in the right positions.

Shin angle is a crucial component.