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Why Does My Athlete’s Run Look Awkward? 5 Reasons

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By Mark Keil, CSCS

September 7, 2022  

SportStrength - Fix the Awkward Run Course

It can be a little unsettling to see your athlete struggle to simply run. You know something is not right with their form, but you just can’t figure out what it is… the running just looks, weird.

“My athlete has an Awkward Run” is something I’ve heard dozens of times. And as a parent myself, I get it – you just want to provide your child with every opportunity to be successful. 

I’ve worked with nearly a thousand athletes from elementary school to high school, from D1 Collegiate Teams to Professional Sports Teams. I’ve also helped countess parents, just like you, by helping their athlete run better (and faster). And I’m going to help you, too. 

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why they may have this ‘Awkward Run’ and how to fix it.

Reason #1: They move their arms across their body

Your athlete should drive their arms from front-to-back. When the arms cross the body, it can slow the athlete down as they are likely to throw their body from side-to-side while they are trying to run straight ahead. 

Reason #2: They stand up tall too quickly

During the Acceleration Phase (those initial few steps of a sprint) they should have a good forward lean. As they reach near maximal velocity, they will transition to a more upright position. However, if they stand up too tall too quickly, then they will struggle to generate speed. 

Reason #3: They ‘chop’ their arms at the elbows

I tell athletes all the time, ‘You can chop at the elbows all day and not increase your speed’. Speed comes from driving the arms at the shoulders, NOT chopping (bending / flexing) at the elbows.  

Reason #4: Their muscles are tight

Sometimes an ‘Awkward Run’ can be a result of the athlete’s muscles being tight. When the muscles are tight, this creates improper movement patterns (Awkward Run). If you think this is the case, then your athlete should spend longer warming up. Warm Ups are so important, especially if your athlete is going to generate maximal speeds. Tight muscles cannot be used through the full range of motion, which hinders the athletes ability to achieve maximal speed.

Reason #5: Your athlete runs flat-footed

Running flat-footed will reduce your athlete’s ability to generate speed and make it more difficult for your athlete to efficiently change directions. They should make an effort to land on the ball of their foot.


Correcting these mechanical errors will not only help your athlete Fix their Awkward Run, but increase their speed. If you’re wondering what drills will teach your athlete proper running technique and Fix their Awkward Run, then check out our Speed & Agility Program