Considered the fastest player in the NFL, 29-year-old Miami Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, running his first track competition since 2014, when he ran for Oklahoma State, won the 60-meter dash in the 25-29-year-old division at the 2023 USATF Masters Indoor T&F Championships in Louisville, Kentucky March 11th.
Why there was a 25–29 age division in a masters championship is the first thing that comes to mind. I thought masters are at least 35 years and older, and generally 40+. But while Hill‘s performance was noteworthy, it fits right in with where we might expect the fastest player in a skill oriented sport would fall in a pure track setting.
Hill ran 6.70 seconds, more than respectable considering his lack of experience coming out of starting blocks, and relative lack of competition to push or pull him to a quicker time.
That said, 6.70 put him equal 213th best performer and equal 698th best performance of the 2023 indoor season (on March 11th). International sprint star Trayvon Bromell produced the fastest time of the 2023 indoor season at 6.42 seconds.
So let’s give Tyreek Hill his due; he’s a fast dude, and showed fortitude for putting himself on the line as he did. But let’s not get over our skis and put him in with the big boys of sprinting.
Just as we wouldn’t expect Trayvon Bromell to run pass routes or catch a football anywhere near as well as Tyreek Hill, we shouldn’t expect the opposite of Mr. Hill.
In May 2021, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, DK Metcalf ran a 10.36 100m at the USATF Golden Games | YouTube. He also ran effectively and well. But it was certainly not a world-class sprint.
Both Metcalf and Hill’s performances underscore how much more there is to world class sprinting in terms of technique and training than simply having raw natural speed.
Sometimes people overlook the hard training that goes into world-class sprinting that we assume naturally of long distance runners or world-class field eventers.
I remember talking to sprint coach John Smith at an indoor meet years ago. He said the most important step in the 60m (or 100, for that matter) is the first step, because that orients every step after.
If the first step is just slightly off-line, the second step is already a correction to that first one and so forth. It’s like you’re always trying to catch up with yourself, much less the other runners.
But how many reps does it take in training to get that first step launched perfectly? And then there’s a whole drive phase and when to lift out.
You can break the 100m dash into as many component parts as you’d like, and it’s like a Russian nesting doll, there’s always another doll inside.
So let’s give our sprinters the credit they’re due. Not just as great athletes, but hard workers and savvy tacticians. Excellence never comes easily.
One thought on “FIGURING OUT FAST”
I admit that this skinny distance runner didn’t know/respect sprinters’ work and technique, just seemed like gifted with speed and a little work to warm up. Two things changed it. In the 80s, Carl Lewis and a couple of Santa Monica TC teammates raced against the fastest NFL players, some sort of TV exhibition (not finding on YouTube). The footballers got out fast, and were even or maybe even slightly ahead early on. But the trained sprinters just kept their discipline through their phases and easily pulled away while the footballers tied up. Then in 1999 we came early and stayed late for the USATF outdoors in Eugene. Hung out at the track while our best athletes did some last minute training. Dennis Michell chilling by the 100 start, talking and laughing with people (us!), then got in the blocks. Suddenly he was no longer in our view. He just disappeared – seriously! Did it a couple more times, stopping after 10 or 20 meters, back to laughing and talking in between each. Like a distance runner doing some cool down accelerations. I once tried the blocks a couple of times just for kicks, and nothing close. Easy to see the amount of work that went into getting his start to that level. TV, or even in the stands, just doesn’t do it justice ime, even with Ato and others excellent descriptions, camera angles, etc. And again, the discipline and beauty of the phases is just awesome. Also got to just wander around the track, seeing these amazing athletes hanging out, 1500 guys shaking it out with some
25 second 200s, eaves dropping on John Smith discussing Maurice Green’s latest WR with some journalists, etc. Maybe can’t do that anymore at Eugene, but can most places. Greatest sport in the world.