Here are three benefits of overhead stick drills for your runners:
1. Gives instant feedback. The stick provides instant visual feedback to your runners. And to YOU the coach! By exhibiting any signs of rotation or tilt of the stick, you and your runners can easily gauge any over-recruitment of the shoulders and torso with each stride.
2. Trains specific strength. In an effort to minimize rotation and tilt, the runner learns how to properly engage muscles in the torso and pelvis to reduce movement up top. Let those plank routines take a back seat-- This is UPRIGHT, RUN-SPECIFIC, CORE training.
3. Cleans up stride patterns. Take away the use of someone's arms-- and thus their main balancing mechanism-- and they quickly learn they need to move with greater biomechanical efficiency. You will see over-striding and heel striking habits give way to an efficient, mid-foot-striking cadence.
After all, its just a drill. One to help the runner feel and strengthen the difference in muscle firing patterns and stride rhythm. Start by alternating back and forth. Do one rep a the stick, wait less than 90 seconds, and do the next rep with full use of the arms.
Continue to use this drill as part of an effective warmup before a run or lifting session.