Starting Blocks For Sprinters
Whether you watch the greatest sprinters of all-time like Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis, or high school sprinters: the start is a key factor for a great race and it all begins out of the blocks.
Starting blocks are used in the sprinting workouts and in races up to 400 meters and both hurdle races in track and field.
The block start is broken down into three phases for the track and field runner: alignment, set position and start.
Front pedal is set two steps away from the start line of the race. The backpedal should be three steps away from the starting line.
The sprinter will back into the pedals and firmly place the feet into the block pads; the top of the spike shoe should be on the track with the front foot.
After firmly placing the feet into the blocks, the sprinter will kneel down on the rear leg and place the hands just behind the starting line slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The fingers are held together, with the thumbs in, like a bridge. The hands should be placed with the thumbs under the shoulders ready to support the runner’s bodyweight. The sprinter should look down, with the back of the head and spine in a straight line.
- Set Position
On the “set” command from the starter, the runner slowly rises up. The hips will rise slightly higher than the shoulders; the bodyweight is shifted forward over the shoulders. The arms are straightened with the hands supporting the runner’s weight. The feet maintain pressure on the blocks with the tip of the shoe still on the track.
If you look at knee angles, the front knee is bent between 90 and 100 degrees. The rear knee has a bend of 120-135 degrees. The angle can depend on the strength level of the athlete; often younger athletes with a limited training base will have the hips rise up more during the set command.
The back leg is driven forward at the sound of the gun as the front leg extends, pushing off the block pedal. The arms are aggressively extended, forward and back. If the rear leg is the right leg, the left arm is driven forward as the right arm is driven back. The head stays neutral on the start, looking down the track slightly.
The body thrust forward and slightly upward at the start of the race. The start can develop with proper sprinting workouts for track and field athletes.
Once the runner is out of the blocks the drive phase begins.
Each phase of the block start can be used in sprinting workouts.
Block Start Review
- Properly position the body with the blocks
- Focus on proper body alignment and angles in the set position
- Drive forward out of the blocks
- Maintain body position into the drive phase