Shingo Suetsugo's Jump Start

I am brand new to sprinting, but watching this Japanese 200m champ at the world championships ‘jump’? out of the blocks with his feet in the blocks side-by-side was a cool departure from the norm. And he is supposedly one of the fastest starters in the world? Does this guy start with this supposedly ‘inferior’ technique because of some old injury that perhaps limits the effectiveness of his initial straddle in the blocks? Or is it the fact that this guy is slight of build and maybe some guys with power deficits can be more effective with this type of start? Being an ex-volleyball player I can tell you that my 0-30 times in my first two months are quicker with this side-by-side technique. I’m wondering if that is because I am a total rookie, or perhaps my neural patterning of always jumping off of two feet has made this a more comfortable [and effective] technique for me. I figure if it can work for a world-class sprinter…Any thoughts from you experienced guys?

Although i have tried in practice the ‘bullet’ start position - and it feels very comfortable - my understanding is this.

The information I have looked at in the past showed that the bullet type start did afford a faster start and speed to 10 and 20 metres. This was because of the pure speed of the reactions and movements. This did not translate through to 60 metres and beyond.

During the acceleration phase, more time is spent with the driving foot in contact with the floor. As Newtons law says - the longer time spent in contact, pushing against something, the greater the acceleration off it. This means that a better top speed can be gained by accelerating properly and getting a better top speed than having much faster movements and not reaching that top speed.

Does that make sense? Any further comments welcomed.

Having tried the start like the Japanses guy it seems it is more important to have the correct front leg angle and drive off with proper technique.

Some valid points there tin. I think I may have found an article that may be useful to this discussion. So here is the link:

It was very interesting to see Shingo Suetsugu’s start technique, make me think about Borzov’s experimentations in the '70s.
Shingo use very small space between blocks, allowing him to have a stronger push on the back block, while many athletes wrongly are pushing exclusively on the front block.
I saw some officials in Paris forcing him to move his blocks, i don’t know what was the reason. I remember that in Euro Champs in Helsinki’94, there was such problems with Linford Christie, as his feet weren’t fully placed on the blocks, and no reaction times were recorded. This method was apparently use by soviet sprinters, it’s just supposition as for many of them, no RT were recorded in several major championships.

You said this Shingo’s method does not translate through 60m and beyond. Well at what point does this start compromise max speed?

I didnt say that Shingos start compromised speed though 60m and beyond as i havent done any study on him, but just from other literature its what I have read about ‘bullet’ type starts. There is definatley something in what he does as he does it so well - and the Japanese certainly have the technology to look at these things and anayse them properly.

Sprinters with a more bullet start (from what I have read) seem to not be able to hit as top a speed at they might by having a different acceleration curve because of the mechanics they put their bodys through. It would be interesting to analyse shingo and see what actually happens.

Thanks for clearing that up for me tinsoldier

A good way to think about the start is that in itself is doesn’t make you fast, but if done correctly is sets you up to be fast once everything else is in place.

Make sense?

I understand; I guess my question more specifically would be: what is it about a bullet start that mechanically inhibits either acceleration or top-speed? Plus, to me, it seems amazing that there is only ONE [that I know of] top sprinter in the world using this start. And he absolutely FLYS out of those blocks. Shingo deserves some props for going COMPLETELY against the grain with the mechanics of one of the most important parts of the race, and still coming third in the world! I guess guys who are succcessful with different approaches fascinate me.

I don’t understand how body position in the blocks can affect maximum speed, which occurs at least 20 strides after the start? As far i’m concerned, it may shorten the acceleration only, so that the top speed occurs before the usual moment. But i see no chnages in max speed.

Note that Shingo is a 200m runner, and start and acceleration is not as important as in a 100m, and i don’t understand why Shingo would be preoccupied by shortening is acceleration phase.
Intersting also are his Reaction Times in Paris (note that the procedure in Paris was fair, there was a start signal behind each block so that there was no disadventages with lane assignements):
Heats 0.164 (average for other runners in this race: 0.151)
QuarterF 0.178 (avg 0.159)
SemiF 0.169 (avg 0.177)
Final 0.176 (avg 0.158)
From this, it’s very clear, we can say that his Reaction Times are somehow weak, and this personal position in the blocks doesn’t help him to react faster than others.

I think you ned to look at the bigger picture here that nothing in running stands alone. All the elements inter relate. What I have been saying is that with the ‘bullet’ type starts the general affect of this start is to have a shorter foot contact time during acceleration which does not allow for the full potebtial of the acceleration speed to be reached.

Body position in the blocks can dictate how you come out of the blocks, how you drive and this will lead into how you run. One thing leading to another.

As the starting blocks are wired to measure the pressure the reaction time and block position dont really relate to each other and it is when the pressure is placed on the blocks that they measure the reaction time, not when the foot leaves the block (ie Drummond 100m at Paris).
Bullet start/normal start no matter.

I dont think Shingo is necessarily shortening his acceleration phase - all I said was that his type of starts may well do that.

Lets think of it this way - if you floored the accelerator on your car you will get up to speed very quickly, but will burn alot of fuel doing it. If you move very fast in terms of limb movements and stride frequency then you will get up to speed quickly but inefficiently. This will have impacts onthe top speed that can be reached.

Why are relay splits so fast?In the 4x100 because the acceleration is so much smoother and longer than out of the blocks. In the 4x400 (apart from the heat of the moment competition element) it is because the smoother accleration to speed gives so much more energy come the last 80 metres. And yes, I know they are crossing the line already running which also adds the majority of the time taken off!

Didn’t Ben Johnson use this start or something very similar to it at one time?

Does anyone know how tall Shingo is, he looks like a smaller guy,and he is very skinny too.

Here is a link to a paper on sprint-starts :

Biomechanics of the Sprint Start - University of Limerick

I see your point.
I agree that one thing lead to another, but maximum velocity occurs at least 20 steps after leaving the blocks. You said that body position may change max vel, so i guess some kinematic parameters would be different. In the same way, i don’t understand why a flying start would modify kinematic parameters for 2 strides at max vel.

re-“if you floored the accelerator on your car you will get up to speed very quickly, but will burn alot of fuel doing it. If you move very fast in terms of limb movements and stride frequency then you will get up to speed quickly but inefficiently. This will have impacts onthe top speed that can be reached”
That’s exactly the changes Flo-Jo did from 1988: increase step frequency in the first steps and thus lengthen her acceleration phase. And obviously, she had enough “fuel” at the end of the race! Observation of sprinters at various level of performances made me very cautious with “rules” and biomechanical criterias. I’m still searching what made Marlies Göhr, Evelyn Ashford, Irina Privalova and Christine Arron so fast in the maximum velocity phase with such different techniques, and “wrong” technique according biomechanical studies in the litterature (basically, to say it quick: Göhr no triple extension, Ashford forward stride cycle and feet put outwards, Privalova too high knee lift an Arron touch down much ahead of center of mass projection on the ground). And they still all ran at 10.7m/s.
The one who will discover the common points between those four sprinters will have the Speed Secret! lol … No, i’m not kidding!

Obviously Shingo has extensively tested his 0-30 times and subsequent 200m times with a bullet vs. normal start and clearly he is faster with a bullet or he wouldn’t be doing it. Isn’t it possible that some other good sprinters could be faster [for whatever reason] with a bullet start and are reluctant to use it because of the fear of looking foolish going against conventional sprinting wisdom?

And my final weird thought: What if this Japanese 200m sprinter [fastest 200m run in the world in 2003] becomes a pioneer for thinly built sprinters to take advantage of a side-by-side foot placement to increase the power in their starts? Shingo looks more like a clean athlete-no anabolics-that’s how thin he is. Maybe he becomes the poster child for all sprinters without huge amounts of power!

I think there have been some good points made onthis subject throughout the posts! What is an over-riding factor seems to be that there are ‘general rules’ but everyone must adapt what they do to be specific to themselves or their individual athletes to get the best out of them.

This means folowing a principle but making it work for them!!

there is a thread on this forum of ben johnson doing a very similar start (i dont remember which it was-sorry).
my question is how could one find out if his potential for a better start is a bullet start?
me-im a footballer who wont be in blocks (but the starting mechanics are still very close to the same),and only gets timed in the 40yrd.- but the first 20 is everything.

You can’t, of course, do a bullet start standing up because you will be slower-not enough to push against. You need a foot back to get you started properly. As for blocks-with a good partner, a stopwatch, and a set of blocks you can find out pretty quickly if you are faster 0-20 or 0-30 with a conventional or a bullet start. I’m 6’3 185, low bodyfat-strong but not extremely powerful and I am consistently 1-2 tenths quicker 0-30m with a bullet start. Incidentally, this does carry over to my 60m and 100m times as well.