sprint start

how many of you are familiar with the various start block positions?

my son is 6’1", 150lb. senior and consistently led in 100 and 200m times in our state last season.

We created a bit of news by switching to a standing start (modified 2 point moye stance) in mid season.
The reason for this was that in early season we watched him stumble and swerve out of the bunch start and have to catch up to the pack before he passed it in the last 30m.
The first thing we did was try a “medium” crouch with more space between front and back foot. This helped get him straighter and up a little faster. His times improved a little.
-we noticed his back leg (first footprint) came out a little longer, reducing total number of strides, and he got into the sprint position sooner.

  • he is tall, long legs, and doesnt look like most of the guys in the set position… his back is more horizontal, where the others look a little more raised in the rear.

Next we compared the med. start with a standing start in 20m tests - he came .25 sec. consistently faster from the standing start.
-again his stride totals were reduced and his first footstrike was longer. He got upright even sooner.

His times got slightly better again.

Problem was that he couldnt really nail a good posture balance for this and by state meet was gun shy; he d-q’ed on 100 (flinched at set) and then in the 200 he came out late but went on to win the 200 in state record time anyway.

This year he wants to go back to a med. crouch again as it seems safer; psychologicly, and physicaly in terms of false starts.

Any comments or suggestions?

You can pretty much guarantee that there will be endless false starts with a standing start. the only time it works better is if you get away with a roll (slight forward movement before the gun)- like as not, you’ll get turfed! Throw the Moye blocks away and adjust a block start to suit his body type. With long legs and a thin build he needs to keep the hips pretty high in a medium block position. He’ll get the hang of it fairly soon.

forgot to thank you for the very poignant advice Charlie, and I also want to venture more questions re the start…

In start technique, for youth men, do we go for low shin to ground angles?
Do we also try to get low angles on the block pads or higher angles?

I saw in your publishings that Ben J. did faster standing start reps than some of his event 100s’. I got that you profess that the .10 to .20 time savings on the start (that can be got from standing start, where applicable) is minor compared to the time that can be improved due to technique training in later stages of the 100.
What are a couple of those training areas that a youth can focus on?


Remember that standing starts are from the timer’s reaction to the first aggressive motion and not an electronic time started by the gun, so times do not correlate. You can see many of the starting and acceleration drills I use on the GPP DVD available on the site store. The GPP DVD shows you how to develop correct sprinting patterns wthout over-instruction, athlete stress, or the likelyhood of misunderstanding. You can see for yourself how quickly the skills can be picked up with almost NO verbal cuing.

charlie, what is the difference on how a person would get out of their blocks, dependent on their hip height in the set position. how different should a shorter person be in the blocks.

It’s quite individual, depending on the athlete’s height, power level, and relative leg length. The rule of thumb is to begin to find the correct position by setting the blocks 2 foot-lengths back of the line for the front foot and 3 footlengths back for thre rear leg (the foot tends to be half the length of the shin) From this position, minor adjustments can be made. Hip height and arm spacing is a function of strength as well, and for beginners, it is usual to start with the center of gravity as high as possible. There are a number of threads on the subject in the fourm archives and you can find a great deal of info about starting in the CFTS and Speed Trap, available from the site store.

What were your sons PBs? Congrats on his 200 win and record :cool:


Thanks Charlie,
I just ordered the dvd, but am experiencing the usual hassle with paypal, due to, I guess, my changed email add., and the fact my verizon dsl internet service totally sucks.

Anyway cant wait to get more info on the good starting and 100m technique.

Joe’s PB’s are;
100: 10.75 hand (3 weeks before state meet last season (may 15/04) - he dq’d on 100 trials that day (standing start rolling flinch), but we were hoping for a 10.75 fat)

400: 49.63 fat (state meet finals)

200: 21.90 fat (state meet trials)

He won both races in finals, but his 200 time was bad; high 22s, due to tough 1/2 hour recovery after 400.
The trials was done 2 days before (Hawaii takes 3 days for state meet - one day in between trials and finals).
The state records are comparably slow to the mainland US, so this year we hope to get records on trials day since there is about 2 hours between events. Then on finals day, we just gut it out.

As you can imagine all the gpp and subsequent prep will be tested.

Since I am going into this, I will mention that we want to go to some usatf post season meets. We have one here in Hawaii; trials and a championship.
The final is about 10 weeks after the state meet.
Can someone give me a cue as to periodization details?

I imagine, take a few days off after states, then what and how; in general?

Sorry, didnt mention that the state final (usatf) is a prelude to possibly going stateside a week after for the REAL testing; a national regional.

So far Joe is hardly cracking top 100.

We dont even know which even will be the one or two, then, but surely it will be narrowed down to one or two.