The basic way to start walking is to lean forward and put one foot forward. The lean causes you to fall slightly, and your forward foot catches that fall. Your remaining back foot now gives a slight push to continue your momentum, and moves forward ahead of your first foot to stop you falling forward of that foot. The rhythm of continued walking is more complex, but that’s the basic start.
Now, think about how runners start to run. Here’s a link. They usually have one foot back, ready to give them some thrust as soon as the race starts. In a sprint from starting blocks this is so obvious: the blocks are there to give resistance to that thrust. In longer distance runs, runners start by getting into a near upright starting pose: leaning forward, one foot back ready to push off. Watch here.
Your turn. Try standing in an upright position with feet together. Then start to run forward. You only need about five steps to get running, but that’s not important. Try to start as fast as you can. The point here is about how you start to run most effectively from this position.
If you start running the way you start walking, then you can eventually pick up some speed, but it’s not the fastest way to start running from an upright stationary position.
Here is a better way to start running. Simultaneously, or nearly so, move both feet from under your body, putting your catching foot forward and your thrusting foot back. Because both feet leave the ground together your body starts to fall under gravity, causing your thrusting rear foot to be driven into the ground. The muscles in your thrusting leg tense and push. Add to this a slight lean forward from the hips with your torso, and you are off to a ‘standing start’.
Watch this video. The subjects are stopping momentarily to pass the ball, then starting off again. Watch carefully at the point where they take off (from right to left in our view). Some of them actually put their thrusting foot out in the opposite direction to their intended direction of motion. This is how they get a good start.
Here’s another. This time it’s about changing direction. Note how the thrust foot goes out opposite to the new direction to plant the foot for better thrust. Here’s some slo-mo to emphasise the opposite plant of the thrust foot.
Now, down to business. Mario Balotelli has been hung, drawn and quartered for this incident. Watch this.
Watching it live I thought the accusation was about his left calf striking Walker’s head as Balotelli is spinning, but that bit is clearly an accident. On watching the slo-mo on TV, and hearing the commentary, I at first agreed it looked like he followed through with a right foot stamp to Walker’s head.
I’ve played it loads of times since, and I now think this analysis fails to take into account Balotelli’s direction of momentum, the spin of his body, the extra trip that the left calf hit on Walker causes, and, crucially, the attempt to apply thrust in the direction of momentum, by the backward thrust into the ground (and unfortunately Walker’s head) as he attempts to recover and move, turning an awkward spinning fall into a forward roll.
All protestations that claim it was intentional don’t get some basic body movement. You can try this.
One the first couple of views, I agreed it looked like an intentional stamp. But on repeated examination, and the consideration of how you recover from falls, I think it is an inocent incident.
There are some serious issues at stake here, that go beyond the incident itself.
Not least of course is Balotelli’s petulant behaviour on other occasions. Everyone, including myself, was prepared to think the worst of him. So, even if he is innocent in this instance, he hasn’t helped his own case.
Then there’s the media outcry, led most of all by that nasty piece of work that is Graeme Souness. Here he is telling it how he’s been telling it all season. Although Neville (spit!) is a red (spit!), he’s a pretty fair, but he’s been in the company of Souness too much.
But here’s the thing. The decision to crucify Balotelli, in the end, was the FA’s. It’s odd how they refuse to use TV footage in football games officially, and yet, when it’s available, and when there’s a public outcry, they jump on the bandwagon to punish players. The biggest bunch of Pontious Pilot Pillocks there could ever be, with the possible exception of FIFA. Oh, and some referees (Phil Phucking Dowd).
This isn’t a Man City moan. I’ve seen many screw ups by refs, and cases of the FA being influenced by the other players, the crowd, pundits. Here’s Becham (spit!) and that stupid ref who has form for over-reaction. Simeone should have been sent off for outrageously bad acting – seriously, that should be an official offence. And here’s Rooney (spit!) standing on a player? Forget the later push and the atrocious Ronaldo (spit!) behaviour, look at Rooney’s (spit!) feet during the slo-mo of the tackles where he stands on the opponent’s balls and foot. This happens in quick real-time motion, falling under momentum. Fast footed footballers make all sorts of instinctive movements with their feet when falling.
Mario Balotelli is innocent!