BASELINE START POSITION
My baselines are relatively simple to get to. You wont need measuring tape or anything crazy just the athlete’s body. Once you get into the basic position you can adjust the athletes measurements as needed.
Many times you’ll see athletes in a football combine or other event run the 40yd dash or another sprint. Before they start some of them are “crowding the line”, this is something I’m not a fan of at all. Crowding the line puts your shin angles in a position that points more “up” as opposed to “out”. I like to get a starting position with the best angles by having the athlete put their front leg or “strong leg’s” knee down a just tad (one inch) behind the line. Have the athlete stand up keeping the feet exactly where they are. The back leg or “smart leg’s” foot should be one foot length behind the front foot’s heel. Their feet aren’t on a tightrope so the back foot shouldn’t be directly behind the front, they can get comfortable so put some space between them to provide a good base.
Once you have these “measurements” you can have the athlete get down in a three or four point start. Be sure they keep their core tight and back straight. Hips should be just above the shoulders in the “set” position or just before the athlete begins to run.
STRONG LEG/SMART LEG
You may be wondering, how does my athlete know which leg is their front or “strong” leg and what leg is their back “smart” leg. Ask them what leg they’d kick a ball with. The leg that they plant with is the “strong” leg and the one that kicks the ball is the” “smart” leg. Remember strong leg in front smart leg in the back. Once you know this you can move to the measuring I talked about before.
This baseline position ensures that when the athlete moves from this position to the “Set” position that their shin angles are pointing forward, the direction they want to go. Their hips being SLIGHTLY ABOVE their shoulders ensures their hips move forward first and their body get the correct acceleration angle when they push out of the blocks roughly 45 degrees during their race or off the turf in their 40m dash.
Once you have these positions you can tweak them however you need to. Some athletes have shorter arms or longer legs so you will need to play around and see what get s them closest to their best positioning and reaction coming out. It can be a long process and is perfected through practice but don’t get frustrated! Take the time and the more you get to work on it the better they will look and be able to tell you how they feel!
Below is a video of one of the best to ever do it in his set position pushing out of the blocks. If you notice he is pushing off of BOTH feet, which you should be doing as well! You may also notice how low his first steps out are. That is something you would like to practice to ensure the athlete can get his feet down quicker yet be powerful. I will get to acceleration in a later blog. But hopefully now you know the basics to helping your athlete get into a good starting position.
Asafa Powell Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCguyboUIHg
About the Author
Clayton Parros, USA Track
Clayton Parros was born in Los Angeles California, and raised in New Jersey. As a part of The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Track and field Program he was named ACC Champion 5 times, All-ACC 11 times, and was also an all American. Post Collegiately he achieved World Champion status as a part of the team USA 4x400m relay, Penn relays Champion, IAAF World Relay Champion, NACAC 4x400m Champion and USA Indoor 300m Runner up. Clayton is USATF Coaching Certified and has studied and trained under world-class coaches namely Derrick White (coach of Joanna Atkins and Quinera Hayes), Lance Brauman (coach of Tyson Gay, Marvin Bracy, Tori Bowie, Shaunae Miller and many others). He also studied strength and conditioning under Andre Woodert (former strength and conditioning coach of Allyson Felix). Currently he is in his first year of coaching at East Carolina University and is involved with the Sprints and Hurdles.