Good starting block technique is vitally important in sprint races. The following list of common
starting block mistakes is adapted from a presentation by Dan Fichter of Wannagetfast Power/Speed Training at the 2009 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association seminar.
1. Positioning your hips incorrectlyUsing a set position that puts the hips behind the front foot. That can be a problem.
2. Raising your head too quicklyLooking up too soon, causing the torso to rise and hips to drop. When the head pops, hips drop, causing the foot to start ahead of the hip. This in turn causes the delay, the body rolls over the foot before you can apply force.
3. OverstridingOverstriding on the initial steps. When you tell an athlete, “You’ve got to get out as far as you can.” That’s great, but they’re going to start reaching and when they start reaching, when that foot hits the ground they’ve got to pull themselves over their hip. Acceleration is a push, not a pull.
4. Focusing on the front footDon’t worry about what happens with the front foot at the start because you’re going to push with your front foot. Focus on what happens with the back foot. The back foot is going to move your hips forward. The front foot is at a biomechanical disadvantage, because of the angle. If the back foot isn’t assisting the front foot you got nothing. The push needs to come from the back foot. If the back foot isn’t applying force to the pedal, you’re not moving your hips forward. When you’re in a set position and you don’t push and you only go from the front, your hips don’t travel forward that far. If you push from the back, they will go.
5. Moving backward in the starting blocksSeeing an athlete in that set position, under video, is important. Football coaches use ton of video. They do it for a reason. It’s not a bad thing to watch your athletes during “set practice.” Put a camera up and watch each one of them get up in the blocks, take their set position. Have them watch themselves release. You’ll see some kids in the blocks go backwards before they go forward.