Track: Block Starts as Easy as 1-2-3!

The start is probably the most important part of the short sprints. Not from the stand point that if you react first you will win. More often than not the person who gets out the blocks first is not always the winner. The importance of the start is how it  “sets up” your acceleration. Scientists have measured all the components of racing and reaction only
contributes to 1% of the total effect of your race. It is those athletes that accelerate best; over the longest distance and reach faster speeds during it are most successful.

Setting Your Blocks

Block Spacing:There are no set parameters for block positions. It depends on leg strength, leg length, and comfort.  Some methods of determining block settings include measuring from the starting line, measuring space between the blocks or setting spacing based on leg length (table). What I suggest for most athletes is something I’ve
devised called the 1,2,3 Method. It’s a simple and easy way to begin using blocks. Here’s how:

Step 1. The base of the block is set one shoe length from the starting line.

Step 2. Your front leg is your drive (push) leg; it is set two (2) shoe lengths from the starting line.


Step 3.Your rear leg is the leg you kick with; place the block three (3) shoe lengths from the starting line. 

Placement of Feet in the Blocks: Your front foot should be placed so that the ball of your foot is on the block but your toes are on the track. The back foot should be placed fully on the block with just the point of the toe touching the track. When using adjustable pedals use a moderate angle setting.

Hand Placement: Shape the hands like a tripod with the fingertips just inside the starting line. The arms should be straight with the insides of the elbows facing down the track. Shoulders are relaxed and placed over, but not behind or in front of the hands.

Set Position: Bring hips up immediately do not pop up, roll the hips slowly or roll forward to the set position. The hips/waist should be a few inches slightly above the shoulders. Both legs should be bent in the blocks. Your weight should be evenly distributed on the legs with slight pressure on the fingers. Your head hangs down loosely or you
can look one to two feet in front of the starting line.

On the Bang! Snap the hands forward. If your right foot is in the rear block snap the left hand forward and vice versa if the opposite way. I emphasize this because by snapping the hand opposite of the rear leg you will get a quick first step. You front leg will drive you out giving you good extension from the hips. The result will be a quick but big first step.
The knee of the rear leg should move forward with the foot  driving down backward at contact, not up and down; there should be no rear kick (heel lift) to the butt.

Starting Commands:

“On Your marks”

1. Back into the blocks
2. Kneel down and set your feet
3. Back in to set your hands


4. Raise the hips to “set” position


5. Snap hands
6. Drive front leg into block snap rear leg forward.
7. Keep head down 8.Drive the arms with powerful fast strokes.

Starting Mistakes

A. Popping up due to pulling the head up, instead of keeping it inline with the shoulders.
B. Stepping instead of driving and running out due to not using the arms aggressively.
C. Falling or stumbling out due to excessive leaning forward.

Do you have a question on block starts? Post your question on the Gamespeed Facebook page and I will try to answer it.