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Teaching the Beginner Sprinter the Block Start

Article By: Coach George Payan

Is this the most efficient position to effectively accelerate?

Align the blocks in the direction of the sprint start in your lane. To begin, place the starting blocks one-foot length from the starting line. The front pedal is two feet length from the starting line. Next, place the rear pedal three feet lengths from the starting line or place the front pedal one and one-half to two feet lengths from the starting line. Place the rear pedal two and one-half to three feet lengths from the starting line. Both hands and fingertips are placed on the track behind the starting line.

This is the most efficient starting position:

Before you teach the sprinters the block start, ask your sprinters which leg they kick the ball with. The foot that kicks the ball is your quick leg. The quick leg is placed on the front pedal.

Teaching the sprinters the block start:

To determine the approximate placement of the feet, tell your sprinters to put both knees on the track as close to the starting line without touching the starting line. Knees are bent at 90 degrees. Get down on all fours extending the body over the starting line. Your hands will be approximately one foot and one-half to two feet in front of the starting line. Hands are directly under the shoulders and toes are curled under. Mark the placement of the quick foot. The front pedal is closet to the starting line. The foot of the leg that is placed on the front pedal is your quick leg.

To determine the approximate placement of the back foot, remain on all fours after marking the placement of the quick foot, stand up and measure one foot from the quick foot. The back foot will be placed on the back pedal.

Measure the placement of the toes of each foot now that you have learned to measure the distance with your feet, hands and fingers. When you travel to compete, starting blocks are different. You will be able to make minimal adjustments and you will be consistent at setting of the blocks.

Wait for the commands behind the blocks. When the official starts with the first command, jump with the heels to the butt three times with intensity to start firing of the neurological system. Place your hands on the track to make the adjustments with your feet.

"On your marks"

The athlete first places the quick leg in the front pedal and then places the foot in the rear pedal. The heels are off the pedals and the toes are curled under and touching the track. The rear leg knee is resting on the ground. Position hands behind the starting line. Hands are approximately shoulder width apart and behind the line forming a bridge of support with the fingertips and thumbs.


Both legs are lifted from the ground. Both legs are flexed. Front knee at approximately 90 degrees. Back knee at approximately 120 degrees. Hips are brought slightly higher than shoulders. Shoulders are directly over the hands. Eyes do not focus on any one point. Arms straight, but are not locked at the elbow joint. Focus is on driving out of the starting movement. Drive off the footpads of both blocks with a longer force application against the front block. Next, concentrate on moving the hands quickly to initiate movement out of the blocks. Rear side hand backward and front side hand forward. The force applied by the rear leg is short and explosive. The front leg extends forcefully to provide needed drive out of the blocks. The body moves both forward and upward.

Coach George Payan
"Helping Coaches Coach"

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