How Potato Chips Can Help Teach Young Sprinters

Use This Analogy to Teach Young Athletes How to Hold Their Hands When Sprinting

Over the years I have had a number of young athletes ask me how they should hold their hands whilst sprinting – open, closed or in-between?

I tell them what I have heard the great Australian sprinter Melinda Gainsford-Taylor say to young athletes:

1. Pretend that you are holding a potato chip in each hand.

2. You don’t want to drop the chips nor do you want to crush them.

In other words, the fingers are lightly curled (not squeezed shut) with the thumbs resting on top. This encourages a relaxed arm action and avoids unnecessary tension in the hands, which can extend into the arms and shoulders.

You can ask young athletes to imagine their favourite potato chips in their hands whilst they are practising their arm action. You can even encourage them by announcing that they can “eat the chips” if the chips are still in their hands in one piece by the end of the drill!

Can you add to this discussion?

I would love to hear if you have another way to teach young athletes how to hold their hands when sprinting. Let me know by leaving a comment.

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.

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One thought on “How Potato Chips Can Help Teach Young Sprinters

  1. Marino Rea Danilowicz says:

    I do this as a drill at least a couple of times a year to bring a bit of fun into a session, but I cant seem to get over the point of why its been done.


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