Tuesday, March 03, 2009

LPoD - starting blocks

I have probably mentioned this more than once before, but, in my youth, I was a 400m sprinter. As was my husband. Not surprisingly, we have spawned a sprinter in our elder son. At the moment, his distance of choice is 200m. Fortunately he runs a good bend - absolutely critical if you're a 200m sprinter!

When my husband and I were competing (not against each other, of course), it was practically unknown for athletes of our age to use starting blocks. In fact, it was quite common for kids to run barefoot (remember Zola Budd? It was Africa, after all!).

Nowadays, even teenage sprinters use starting blocks when they run for a club. Our son has had to learn to set his blocks - something we were unable to advise him on. This was a new experience for us. Between us, we have been able to advise him on almost every other aspect of his sprinting: faster starts, best lanes, better strides, improved arm movements, shortening the bend, leaning into the bend, breathing, focusing the eyes, relaxing the neck and face so as not to divert energy from the arms and legs, head position, keeping your rhythm... you name it.

So we have been fascinated at this new arena. It seems that this is how a simple approach to setting your starting blocks:

  • Place the knee of the rear leg opposite the instep of the front foot
  • Move forward with the hands until the body weight is directly over the hands and the arms are vertical
  • Ideally the angles of the legs in the "set" position should be: leading knee 90 degrees, rear knee, 120 degrees.
There are more mathematical ways of doing it, but I suspect you would be better off focusing on what works best for you, rather than on playing it by the numbers!

Take your marks....!

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