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How to Maintain Proper Form on the Starting Block

Learn how to maintain proper form on the starting block from sprinting coach Shane Paul Neil in this Howcast video.


Hi, my name is Shane Paul Neil from Seacoast Multisport, and today I'll be talking about proper form at the start of the sprint. The sprint start, depending on the length of the race, is one of the most important pieces overall. A bad start can result in either a disqualification, or being left behind by the competition. A few things that you want to keep in mind with your race start. A, make your more powerful leg is your lead leg.

So for example, if you play soccer or kickball, your kicking leg should be the leg that's in front, because that's going to give you the most power coming out the blocks. You want it to be very keenly aware of the starter's pistol, it's a very reflexive action, with practice it's one that you can build, work on your reaction time. Your first step out the blocks will be that lead leg, with as much power as possible with the goal of your trail leg landing as far away from the start line as possible. In regards to your upper body, you want as large an arm swing as possible, because as we've seen in sprinting, arm propels legs.

The bigger your arm swing, the more powerful the arm swing, the more likely you are to launch yourself away from the starter block. Once you're out of the starter block, you want to maintain what's called a drive pace, in which case you're leaning forward, put your head down, almost basically looking at the track as you're going. As you go speed, you slowly want to raise up to your proper posture, and then move forward from there. Keep in mind that for sprinters, they're not actually getting faster as much as we may think so, you're actually getting slightly slower with each step, so the faster you came out the blocks, the more that you have to work with when it comes to later portions of the race.

On a side note, I generally don't recommend starting blocks for beginning sprinters. It's an added element that can be quite technical and complicated, and if used improperly you can actually hurt yourself. I recommend going through a steady progress to learn how to down start, and then work yourself into using blocks, as recommended by your coach. And that's how you maintain proper sprinting format at the start of the race.

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