The Importance of Slowing Down

This tile might come as a surprise to many of us considering that the main aim of our spslow-downort is to be as fast as we can ultimately be. Mike Young, a track and field coach as well as a strength and conditioning coach, explains the importance slowing down to get better. By slowing down he is referring to the eccentric components of the muscle contraction spectrum; which is the active contraction of a muscle occurring during simultaneous lengthening.

We must remember that sporting movement occur in a tri-phasic muscle spectrum, that is utilizing all three contraction types – concentric, eccentric and isometric. Whilst neither one should be neglected, today we will be focusing on the eccentric portion of the spectrum.

Aspiring Young Coaches

Today we are aiming to reach the young coaches out there, because just like we look at the best ways to carry over our youngest kids from youths, teens to hopefully make it to the senior stage, we cannot neglect the coaches who are essential going through the same process.

Without developing our coaches we cannot develop our sport!

Below are the top 5 tips from Andreas Behm – sprints and hurdles coach at the World Athletics Center in Phoenix.


Hamstring Injuries in Track and Field Athletes


Hamstring strains and injuries are one of the most common injuries in the sporting world especially where acceleration and maximal sprints are common. This does not exclude track and field for which it accounts for around 11% of total injuries. Hamstring injuries do not always occur due to lack of strength in the particular muscle or muscle groups but also due to strength imbalance between hamstrings and quadriceps and hamstring muscles of different legs, lack of core stability, range of motion in the proximal joints, muscle architecture, fatigue as well as neuromuscular control. Furthermore, the chances of a muscle injury increases if lengthened further than their optimal length at the corresponding peak torque. Physiologically the hamstring is made up of three separate muscles; the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris which in turn is made up of the long and short head. All of the hamstring muscles extend the hip and flex the knee during the stance and swing phase with the exception of the short head of the biceps femoris as this does not cross the hip joint and hence only facilitates knee flexion.

Cause of Injury

During the running gait cycle, the hamstrings’ major role is to decelerate the front leg and foot movement in the forwards swing which usually occurs between 45% to 90% of the running gait cycle. This is also the time when most hamstring injuries occur in sprinting due to the muscles lengthening eccentrically to be able to decelerate a high angular velocity to then be able to produce the maximum amount of force concentrically. This phenomena is also known as the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) which is an eccentric contraction followed by a concentric action and separated by the amortization phase.


Research has found that hamstring injuries can be reduced when increasing their optimal length for peak force which can in turn be achieved via eccentric exercises. As explained above an eccentric contraction is when a muscle produces force while being actively lengthened and this can increase the size, strength and flexibility of a muscle, improve optimum length-tension properties and the recoil effect (SSC). In fact, the stiffer the muscles and tendons (muscle-tendon unit) the more recoil will be available for the coming movements and the less mechanical energy the athlete needs to use.

A number of training methods can be used to reduce the change of hamstring injury in track and field. These include a variety of unilateral and bilateral exercises in open and closed chain situations and multi-joint and single joint exercises focusing on both hip extension and knee flexion. Moreover, the use of SSC exercises with isolated eccentric exercises are also beneficial. Such injury prevention exercises should work all the muscles and parts of the hamstring muscle group although emphasis should be upon the long head of the biceps femoris since this has been found to be the most susceptible to injury. One must not forget that for an exercise to be effective, it must be biomechanically very similar to the sporting movement itself to be able to work the necessary muscle groups. Although eccentric training does not focus on force production as such, muscles are stronger eccentrically and it is advised that similar training parameters for sets and repetitions are applied to that of concentric strength training with enough recovery.

Exercise ideas

  • Nordic Curls

nordic curls

  • Double and Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

romanian-deadlift      Single-Leg-RDL

  • Double and Single Leg Swill Ball Roll Outs

roll out

  • Hamstring Catapult

catapul 2

  • Sprinter Eccentric Leg Curl


  • Double Leg and Single Leg Hip Thrusts









Concurrent Training

Concurrent training is a method whereby one does endurance and strength training on the same day. Whilst it has been thought that fatigue from the endurance training might negatively effect strength development, research supports the notion that a combination of endurance and strength training improve running economy and maximal strength. In one of his info graphics Yan Le Meur discusses nutritional strategies to support this.

Free Travel To Gozo Weekend

Athletix A.C. will be hosting a variety of athletic events at the Gozo College Boys’ Secondary School in Victoria on Sunday 17th November. Registration is free of charge. Medals will be given to all participants and category winners will also get to take home a trophy.

The full programme of events can be found below.


Fgura Car Free Day

On the 22nd of September 2013, the Fgura Local Council will be organising various sports activities with the support of local sport entities, including Athletix which will coordinate the events. The events are open to the general public without the need of prior registration. Participants are kindly requested to present themselves at the respective event sites at the advised times.


Free fruit will be available throughout the event, with certificates being presented to the participants.




Date: 22nd September 2013
Time: 09:00 – 12:00
Venue:  Area in proximity of Zabbar Road from HSBC to Hompesch Gate


9.00 1.5km run for children (12 to 16 years of age)
9.00 1.5km run for adults
9.00 Netball
9.00 Fgura united Target Shoot -off
9.00 Face Painting
9.15 Balloon Modelling
9.30 1.5km bike sprint challenge 14+
9.40 60m sprint challenge 6 – 12
9.45 60m sprint challenge adults
10.00 breaking limits 60m sprint
10.10 Kids Athletics
10.15 Zumba
10.50 breaking limits basketball game
11.00 Electric vehicles
11.15 Martial Arts (ninpo & taichi)
12.00 Tug of war
12.30 Presentation of awards and speeches


Universiade : The athletes did their thing!

Today saw the last activity for Maltese track and field athletes in Kazan.

Last Tuesday (9th July) started on a very good note, with Rebecca Sare’ performing excellently in her preferred event, the triple jump. Despite being Sare’s first time jumping from the 11m board, her third and final jump was her best, where she once again cleared, 12.01m. Sare’ can now head into her off-season reflecting on her successful year. There is no doubt that this break will be of benefit, allowing her to re-gain her focus and strength as the national record is now clearly in her sights.

Matthew Croker followed by running the 200m. Facing hard competition in the 10th heat, Croker finished the distance in 23.18s.

Finally, this morning Andy Grech took part in the long jump. Despite having two no-jumps in the second and third attempts, Grech jumped a huge leap of 7.10m in his first attempt. This result puts Grech number one in Malta in the long jump this year – 8cm clear of his training partner Ian Grech (7.02m) and veteran Rachid Chouhal (7.01m). Will this stimulate our jumpers to pursue further challenges in the remaining Summer meets in Malta next month? Let’s hope for the best!!

National Championships – A Good Final Sprint for GSSE

GSSE are fast approaching and last weekend saw what is most commonly the deadline for athletes to achieve their respective MQS; the National Championships. Spread over two days, with weather conditions not being the best, the Championships delivered consistent results.

The 100m men gave a kick-start to the weekend with a splendid 4 athletes going under 11s. Steve Camilleri (Pembroke Athleta) took first place with a time of 10.85, Luke Bezzina (Allcomers Aloysians) took second place with a time of 10.93 and Rachid Chouhal (AS Libertas) took third place with a time of 10.97.

The women’s 100m was equally as impressive with Rebecca Camilleri (CUS Parma) was first in 12.04, Diane Borg (La Salle) was second in 12.17 and Charlene Attard ( Pembroke Athleta) was third in 12.52.

Fastest woman in Malta - Becky Camilleri (CUS Parma) after the 100m. Photo by Wally Galea

Fastest woman in Malta - Becky Camilleri (CUS Parma) after the 100m. Photo by Wally Galea

When doubling the distance, in the 200m the men saw the same three athletes, Camilleri, Bezzina and Chouhal, in the same positions with a time of 22.41, 22.76 and 22.93 respectively. For the women, Borg clocked a time of 25.18, followed by Nicole Gatt (Starmax AC) in 26.06 and Charlene Attard in 26.85.

Another much anticipated event was perhaps the 400m men which hosted the 3 fastest athletes on the island, joined this time by Kevin Moore who again will be representing Malta in the GSSE. Moore (AS Libertas) was first in a time of 48.26 which also established a new Championship Record, Steve Camilleri (Pembroke Athleta) was second in 49.41, while Matthew Croker (Savio AC) was third in 49.98. These three athletes will be joined by Neil Brimmer (Zurrieq Wolves) to form the 4x400m.

In the middle and long distance events there were some promising performances. Mark Herrera (Pembroke Athleta) established a new National and Championship Record in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9.54.85 while Monaslia Camilleri (AS Libertas) established a Championship Record again in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 12.06.13.

Herrera again dominated the 800m again with a time of 1.58.18, followed by Simon Spiteri (St.Patrick’s AC) in a time of 1.59.76 and Neil Brimmer (Zurrieq Wolves) in a time of 2.00.47. Meanwhile in the women, Monalisa Camilleri (AS Libertas) was first in 2.23.37 followed by Charmaine Aquilina (Mellieha AC) in 2.27.80.

The field events where equally encouraging. Rebecca Camilleri obtained a wind assisted 6.31m in the long jump! Ian Paul Grech (Pembroke Athleta) won the same event in a distance of 6.82m.

In the shot put Catriona Cuschieri managed a Championship Record with 10.86m, followed by Katya Friggieri with 7.88m and Anthea Camilleri with 7.35m. In the javelin throw Bradely Mifsud was first with 55.17m, Kevin Galea was second with 42.23m and Christian Mifsud was third with 37.32. All these athletes are from Pembroke Athleta. In the discus, Luke Farrugia (Pembroke Athleta) threw the disc at an impressive 47.07m!

The next for our local athletes is to compete at the Games of the Small States of Europe and so we wish them the very best of luck!


Challenge 4 – Windy conditions – Brilliant results

Despite its critical length and timing due to the deadlines set for GSSE, this season is surprisingly developing into one of the sort we haven’t witnessed for some time in Malta.

Every weekend, it seems that records set in the past were not good enough. In the meet organized on Friday for the hurdle events, Monalisa Camilleri (AS Libertas) has managed to break the National Record for the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 12:05.52. When considering the toughness of the event, the hurdles and the lengthy distance (which we sprinters seem to fear) added with the fact that Camilleri ran the race on her own, the performance is extremely encouraging for Maltese athletics. Respect!

Meanwhile, in Saturday’s meeting the challenging weather probably was providential for some events. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Three times under 11s for the 100m – fascinating! Andy Grech and Steve Camilleri (both of Pembroke Athleta) clocked a time of 10.89, followed by a whisker by seasoned Rachid Chouchal (of AS Libertas) with a time of 10.90 – all with a legal wind of 1.1m/s. Brilliant!

As for the ladies, Diane Borg (La Salle) came first in 12.58, followed by Charlene Attard (Pembroke Athleta) in 12.87 and Annalise Vassallo (Zurrieq Wolves) in 13.11. This time, the ladies had to face a -0.5m/s wind. These results, in combination with the positive momentum we’ve witnessed so far in the sprinting events seem to provide plenty of hope for the 4x100m relays for both men and women.

Despite missing out on the 100m race, young promise Luke Bezzina (Allcomers Aloysians) ran the fastest time this year for the 200m in 22.24 followed by Rachid Chouhal (22.48) and Gozitan promise Luke Attard (Athletix AC) 23.39. These times, although aided by a strong wind of 2.5m/s, are still very positive and exciting for the enthusiasts! The ladies’ race was won by Diane Borg (24.70), followed by her training partner Annalise Vassallo (26.38) and Nicole Pace of Starmax AC (28.82).

Brandon Abela (Allcomers Aloysians) and Andrea Cristiano (Pembroke Athleta) – both 15 year olds – finished the half lap in 23.99 and 24.02. For the girls, Janet Richard and Nicole Attard Gluvau (both of St. Patrick’s AC) placed first and second with times of 26.18 and 27.25 respectively.  People out there, please take note of these future talents!

Neil Brimmer (of Zurrieq Wolves) won the 400m men, struggling the whole way uncontested with a time of 50.74. His local rival, Matthew Croker (Savio AC), ran the distance at a Regional Meet in Bari (Italy), with a time of 50.21. We are all looking forward to see next weekend’s 400m event, where we should be expecting the four musketeers (Brimmer and Croker, joined by Kevin Moore and Steve Camilleri) to challenge each other – hopefully pushing each other to a seasonal best. Meanwhile, Lara Scerri (Pembroke Athleta) and Francesca Borg (of Allcomers Aloysians) finished the lap in 59.79 and 59.99 respectively.

In a time trial for the Men’s 4x100m relay, the MAAA selection got closer to the MQS for the Small Nations Games, with a time of 42.22.

Meanwhile, in the field events, Ian Paul Grech (Pembroke Athleta) obtained a wind-assisted result of 13.94m in the triple jump! In the 1500m both Monalisa Camilleri and Mark Herrera (of Pembroke Athleta) got closer to their MQSs with times of 4.58:48 and 4.01:18 respectively.

There you go – quite a longish article today, a good sign that things are getting in better shape in Marsa.