My current fencing coach has put a far greater emphasis on footwork technique, especially the front foot, than any of my previous coaches.
“Lift the toes first, then the heel. Push forward from the heel, just above the floor, like you’re pushing a quarter forward.” Her argument is that the technique allows you to maintain a more consistent pace, better balance.
She made a similar comment about my stride while observing me run. “You’re running on the balls of your feet. That’s bad form – your heel should land first.” She also suggested I throw out my hips when I stride, but when I tried that she laughed, said I looked like a panicked penguin.
I’m trusting that my coach knows more about biomechanics than I do, so other than the penguin hip technique I’ve been following her advice, or at least trying. The fencing technique is coming along, but the running is still difficult – the heel first approach slows me down, and it strains my shins.
So it goes.