head down starts?

posted on 10-2-2003 at 04:37 AM

Pat’s head is down for the full 19 steps shown but there is no disruption of form- or, in fact, any change in rythem at all.

This was posted by Charlie in the video thread of Pat Johnson’s 9.88 run. Was just wondering what is the reason for the pronounced emphasis in keeping the head down during the start - as per Jones / Green / etc. Is this for a biomechanical / technical advantage, or for other reasons. From memory Ben didn’t seem to hold his head in such a manner and he started pretty well.

I don’t recommend the head down approach, but, if an athlete I consult with does it and has no problem with it, I wouldn’t change it. Don’t fix wat ain’t broke!

Thank you for clearing that up. As you know, we are having trouble with an elite coach in this area, forcing this posture by cueing the athlete to look for ants. Could be part of the problem in the races of Gatlin.

Trust me its even worse to see a developing athlete without the strength or conditioning of Gatlin attempting to try the head down transition and just wrecking their first 30m.

Ben Johnson and Irina Privalova never needed it and they ran WR 50s and 60s where the start is so important. For some athletes its great and others it will send them back metres.

It just amazes me how many athletes are told to keep their head down during the acceleration phase, regardless. Race after race, we see athletes fight themselves to please their coach.

It sometimes depends upon what is fashionable. If the world record holders happened to start from a sideways position (ala a baseball player) and could create some plausible explanation for it, sure as spit, somebody (perhaps many somebodies) would be doing it.

I keep my head down because it works. I look at my feet. I dont know what the science is behind it. I think since im actually looking at my toes I can cause my body to have a faster reaction. I can say to my feet “hey its time to leave the blocks” and my body will force my arms up in the air to acheive a correct position exiting the blocks?

but when you keep your head down longer aren’t you conserving energy? When you stand up straight to early and start full striding at 15m won’t sprinters get tired?

I’m not an expert but i believe the headdown start was introduced to increase the length of the drive phase meaning athletes wouldn’t run out of steam too early and could finish stronger by delaying top speed to further down the track.

I think Bruny Surin showed great success in 99 when using a piston action in his first 30m rather than keeping his headdown and cycling his legs that Greene employs. He went from a great 60m runner who often missed medals in the final 30m in 100s to going 9.84 and running the 2nd fastest time ever.

Lots of ways to running fast, its just working out which one is the best for you. If headdown works then great. If staying low and pistoning works then stick with that.

2nd fastest time ever?? I thought there were a couple of 9.79s and a 9.83 in there somewhere :wink:

Yes and i also forgot that the WR is now 9.78 and I forgot Tim. :o

Keeping your head down or up during anypart of the race after the acceleration phase makes no difference. It does not conserve energy as mo greene and the rest of those guys will tell you. Look at ben and was up and running after 5 steps. Also mo is hurting his top speed by forcing his head to stay down. If you are forcing yourself during any part of the 100ms it is not a good sign at all.