Start clinic #1

Hi all,

Here is a new feature where we get the collective expertise of the list and constructively aim to help a fellow coach overcome an annoying little niggle. Everyone has a great cue or bit of advice that they have used to address a specific issue. Why not show yours here?

To kick off, I am posting this on behalf of forum member Nanny. The athlete is a versatile 17 year old sprinter 12.01/24.45/55.44.

The specific question is “When leaving the blocks her lead arm’s first movement is backwards. Any feedback on this matter would be greatly appreciated.”

My first comment. If the back leg goes backwards, the arms must also go backwards. We can control our legs with our arms, but the reverse also applies when balance comes into it. The back leg needs to be a stable platform from which to launch our rocket.

Have to go now too damn busy at the moment. Look forward to a great thread.

It looks like she’s leaning too far forward in the set position. She has too much weight on her arms, which is what’s preventing the lead arm from immediately coming forward. It also looks like her feet are too close together. Try moving the rear block back to give her more room so she won’t be crowded in the blocks and have to lean forward as much.

In addition, she’s not initiating the start with her arm. It looks like she’s concentrating primarily on pushing with her legs first.

Her legs activate first. He left arm should be moving first and fastest for this segment of the start. Instead, it is almost as though her arms are dead weight for the first part of the clip. In fact, BOTH arms move back on the start. The left should move forward, and be the first thing that we see move.

She needs alot more mid sections strength as well. You can see her upper and lower body moving as 2 separate units.

Hip height looks good.

And one thing to remember, if she is reading these posts is that we are not saying she is not a talented athlete. In fact, if she had no talent would any of us waste our time posting on this thread? Cerntainly not! Be encouraged young lady! You are 10-15 years away from your best performance. The athletes who persevere are the ones who end up on top. :slight_smile:

I can’t help but to keep focusing on her hands. I could be wrong but it appears that she is pushing off or pulling the track with her fingers and wrists. Herb, wouldn’t that help overcome the sensation of falling on her face? Especially if she has too much weight over her shoulders which Flash mentioned.

I sure hope the girl is not reading this thread.

Talk about paralysis by analysis

Has she had her blocks switched recently? (Did she used to start with the other foot forward?)

Is her back foot making complete contact with the block ? No gap between foot and block in the set postion ?

To Herb and all thanks for your feedback.
Some background athlete mentioned has only been in the sport for 2 1/2 years. used to be a beach sprinter and has not changed blocks lately.
I will post a still pic on this site tomoz showing angles in set position.

The thumb turned in on left hand has actually helped reducing the backwards movement of the lead arm. prior to the switch it used to travel back past the hip before coming forward.

dcw has mentioned it by email and you will notice on the video that her ankle moves back over the block would you suggest a slightly lower position of the rear foot?


From what myself and others have posted here, what will you focus on first when coaching this athlete? My suggestion is to get the Arm action correct. Alot of other problems will be fixed with this alone. The left arm should fire straight out forward. That is what I would focus on. There may be other issues though.

Perhaps it is the forward lean that is not allowing her to freely move her hand fwd. You can sort of see this with T-Mont in his WR race.


forgive my ignorance, is a beach sprinter what the name implies? tell me about the competitions, etc, thank you

No my error I forgot i was talking to a non australian forum here, in australian culture we have surf life saving carnivals one of the events is the beach sprint and can be run on anything from hard sand to sand which you can sink well past your ankles.

When we practise the arm reaction drill it flicks forward without problem but when coming from the blocks, the result is as seen on the video.
hence the reason i posted it on this forum for any feedback.

one thing that I noticed is that her lead knee first goes downwards (after reaction) and the she follows thru with pushing off. I say work to eliminate this extraneous movement. also, maybe work on driving more from the hips, almost forcing the hips out and downwards. this will help keep the body low and in an accelerating position a bit longer. take care… ps… work the fast arms and hands!

Lets try to get more video’s of people and their block starts! then we can compare and give examples…

upon further review… try this one out… keep the shins parallel, I think that might help to keep that extra movement. if you can imagine her shins parallel to begin with, then look at the position where her front shin ends up in, it is the parallel spot that i just mentioned. work overall core strenght to keep those hips down, and the back toe flexed to increase angular velocity by shortening the lever. if this is confusing, let me know… take care

Originally posted by Herb

From what myself and others have posted here, what will you focus on first when coaching this athlete? My suggestion is to get the Arm action correct. Alot of other problems will be fixed with this alone. The left arm should fire straight out forward. That is what I would focus on. There may be other issues though.

Herb, if your back foot is not right it is impossible to fire out the front arm. The instant your arms lift weight transfer occurs. If the back foot is not stable it will move backwards. The body’s natural reflex to use the arms for balance will override the ability to fire out the front arm.

It is essential that the athlete “loads” themselves into the blocks to establish a stable platform from which to launch the lead arm.

As some of the others have suggested, one method to increase stability is to move the rear pedal back one notch. The down side with this method is that the back leg will have further distance to travel. This can work but you would need to try it out.

The other option is to brace the back foot better by lowering it. Quite frankly I hate those blocks in the vidcap as they have shallow pedals. Many blocks have higher pedals and the foot wouldn’t hang over so badly. This is one thing that has stung me badly in the past. You can develop a start for one set of blocks that does not transfer to another set of blocks.

I am digressing here but a top tip is to find out what blocks they are using beforehand when attending an important meet and to practice with them. It will avert many problems.

This is even more pronounced with girls as they don’t have the lower leg strength of men so the problem you see in the vidcap will occur.

both blocks are on the same level - 1 notch from the bottom.
in regards to lowering the back foot on the block to what extent would you recommend?

On those blocks, its probably best to try notch 0 on the front black and notch 1 on the back block. It should work well with the revised foot positions.