RETURN To Run – Running Drills | Dean Benton


The A and B running drills were originally developed in mid-60s by Gerald Mach, former National Sprint Coach for Poland and later Canada. The drills were designed to enable the sprinter to complete preparatory work in harsh Polish winters with limited space. The primary benefit of the drills were not as technique drills, but to specifically strengthen athletes in postures and actions that are similar to those that occur during the sprint action. Drills should be considered as postural drills, specific strength drills and functional flexibility drills – the technical benefit is ancillary (Gambetta, 2015).


In recent years Frans Bosch has further developed other versions of these drills applying motor learning principles. Some of Frans’s variations offer better transfer for team sport athletes and positive running enhancement (Bosch & Klomp, 2005)

RETURN TO Run – Training Modes


The 4 primary training modes using running drills as part of the return to run process:


  1. Rehabilitation – programming here is directed toward the injury. Drilling can be commenced before running. Here the typical ‘jogging’ stage can be passed over with drills, which better prepares the athlete for quality ‘striding’. Depending on the type of lower limb injury and stage of rehab, drills can be modified to progressively load respective muscles involved in the running cycle. The role of the calf complex in the running cycle is the function as a ‘brace’ – not a ‘pump’. Therefore, when able, running drills offer a much more specific means of improving calf strength as compared to general calf raises ahead of running per se.
  2. Functional development – drills are core work. Drills can improve flexibility and lumbo-pelvic function for all forms of running.
RETURN TO RUN  Running drills Dean Benton

3. Reintroduction to speed – often acute and overuse injuries can be attributed to poor running technique. Gait is the cornerstone of function. When an athlete has the capability to operate their musculoskeletal system efficiently, they will tolerate greater stress, strain and load (Gambetta & Benton, 2006). As such, the return to run process presents a great opportunity to improve technique and running efficiency. This can then be used to enhance performance and robustness to high intensity running

4. Reconditioning – use of drills for reconditioning enhances local muscle conditioning and systemic conditioning. Often with certain individuals, or at certain stages of return to run only so much running can be completed. However, drills can more than adequately simulate similar physiological demands as running, but without risk.


Often the 4 modes are addressed synonymously in training. However, there are subtle differences in how drills can be applied to target these 4 respective areas. This will vary with injury and the individual athlete.

Drill rationale

A-Drills – designed to improve function related with the push off and hip extension in the stance phase of the running cycle

B-Drills – designed to improve function related with the leg approach phase of the running cycle

C-Drills – designed to improve function related with the leg recovery phase of the running cycle


COACHING considerations

PROGRAMMING considerations

How: knowledge of how to teach running drills by way of cues, implicit/explicit methods and observation skills

What: knowing what drills are appropriate to what injury and the individual athlete

Why: knowledge and capability of how to sell the reason for running drills as part of a broader RTR program

When: knowing the appropriate sequence of drills within a session and *progression throughout the RTR program

RETURN TO RUN  Running drills Dean Benton

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