How much do starting-blocks affect the 60m sprint?


This is a follow up article on Time Trials in Training: Run Alone or in a Group?

My early days with Coach Dennis Barrett were always in a group to simulate a race condition. Some of us didn’t use starting blocks because our Club only owned two! As an Alan Wells fan, I would say “screw it” and get down on all fours on the track.

Some sprinters are psychologically dependent with starting blocks. With proper spikes and synthetic tracks, I feel you can still get an effective start without them. And my indoor 400 meter Dartmouth Relays proved it, as you are not allowed to use blocks on the oval events.

In the video, note how the sprinters go down on all fours with NO BLOCKS! Who says you need blocks to run fast? Especially for a 300 or 400 meters, though you should always run the first 5 or 7 steps the same way whether it’s an indoor 60m sprint or 400 meter dash.

In Asafa Powell’s 300m (fast forward to the 2:08 mark), he runs 31.60 and splits 200m in 20.28...

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The sprints include the following track events: 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 4 x 100 metre relay and the 4 x 400 metre relay. Although the sprints are events in themselves, the ability to sprint is an important weapon in an athlete's armoury for many track and field events and many sports.

Sprint Technique

Guidance on the sprint technique takes the form of a checklist, for each phase of the sprint, of points for the coach to monitor. The information provided here is for athletes using starting blocks. For details of standing or crouch starts see the sprints start page.

Pre race start

Blocks correctly positioned in the lane (200 metres/400 metres at a tangent to the curve) Correct distances from the start line to the front and rear blocks Foot blocks at the correct angles Blocks firmly located in the track Athlete relaxed and focused on the race

On your...

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Excellent question, Jonathan. The run up distance should be selected to maximize the performance of each fly. In addition, I recommend sub-maximal accelerations with the objective to maximize the fly performance. So, the run up for a 30 m fly would be longer than a 300 m fly, a female run up distance would typically be shorter than a male distance, and a novice distance would typically be shorter than an elite distance. Note that when performing sub-maximal accelerations, the run up distance can vary considerably for each athlete, particularly for the short fly distances. (The run up distances for the 300 m is not as critical; 12 to 15 m is generally about right). When I am working with a group of athletes, I place flat soccer cones to mark their starting locations. Some prefer to start with an easy plyo hop for the first three steps, so that will extend them back a bit. Others prefer a bit more aggressive start, so that moves them closer.

Note that it is quite common for...

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Usain Bolt

, world record holder in 100 m and 200 m sprints

Sprinting is running over a short distance in a limited period of time. It is used in many sports that incorporate running, typically as a way of quickly reaching a target or goal, or avoiding or catching an opponent. Human physiology dictates that a runner's near-top speed cannot be maintained for more than 30–35 seconds due to the depletion of phosphocreatine stores in muscles, and perhaps secondarily to excessive metabolic acidosis as a result of anaerobic glycolysis.[1]

In athletics and track and field, sprints (or dashes) are races over short distances. They are among the oldest running competitions. The first 13 editions of the Ancient Olympic Games featured only one event—the stadion race, which was a race from one end of the stadium to the other.[2] There are three sprinting events which are currently held at the Summer Olympics and outdoor World Championships: the 100 metres, 200 metres, and 400...

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This is part 2 of the Freelap Friday Five Series, 2013 Edition. To review the 16 part 2012 edition, click here.

Part 1 was Matt Scherer, Professional Pacer-Rabbit.

Stuart McMillan has the unique experience of coaching at three Home Olympic Games: American athletes at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Canadians at the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Games, and British athletes at the 2012 London Summer Games. The pressure must have been enormous!

Stuart is an accredited S&C and Sprints Coach and has over 20 years of professional coaching to both professional and amateur athletes in a variety of sports with the focus being on power and speed development, namely Track & Field and Bobsled.

His resume is impressive… personally coached 55 Olympians who have won a combined 26 Olympic medals at 5 Olympic Games where he worked as part of NGBs in 6 countries, and have been part of and/or led ISTs in the United States, Canada and the UK. With the consolidation of Lee Valley...

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This article is guest blogged by Lee Ness, a UKA qualified Event Group Coach for Sprints and Hurdles, the Head Coach/Sprint Coach at City of Salisbury Athletics, and Running Club and Track and Field Team Manager for Wiltshire Athletics Association.

Click here for all articles written by Lee Ness

Developing a 400m Hurdler

Setting aside the specific technical model development for hurdlers, there are particular stages I use for developing a 400m hurdler. It is worth pointing out that I will usually start this process when the athlete is around 15 years old, but I’m currently working with a 17 year old who has dabbled with hurdling and is about to start this process.

1. Sprinting

First and foremost a hurdler is a sprinter, and proper sprint mechanics must be the basis of building a hurdler. A minimum of half of all training time should be spent on flat sprinting. 400m hurdlers need to be very efficient in their sprint technique. Before I even...

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This article is guest blogged by Joel Smith, an Assistant Strength Coach of Olympic Sports at the University of California, Berkeley. Visit his website at

He is also the author of the new book Vertical Foundations. Click here to learn more about the book.

3 Reasons the squat is not the cornerstone of strength training for sprinters

The winner of a 100m dash puts the most force into the track the fastest, and in the proper direction. Speed and direction are typically improved via deliberate practice on the track, but maximizing force is an area where the weight room reigns supreme. Track and field is all about pure human movement, yet strength training programs following that precision are not always common. The point I am trying to make is this: many track coaches have their events coached to an exact mechanical model, but all that precision and attention to detail can go out the window the minute their athlete steps in the weight...

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My last article on How to Improve Your Last 100m in the 400m was left open ended where we concluded there are many ways to improve that final straightaway.

There were a few good comments, but every coach has their own methodologies and secrets.

And experience.

Mike Hurst coached Australian sprinters to qualify for five consecutive Olympic Games (1980 Moscow to 1996 Atlanta). Two of his...

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Renowned speed expert Latif Thomas explains his short-to-long methodology to developing speed and agility for athletes

People say all the time that speed and agility for athletes is just like talent: It can’t be taught.

I’m here to show you how that belief is flat-out wrong. Speed is a skill.

The ability to take advantage of the potential of one’s body, and to do so consistently, is a highly technical skill. As coaches and athletes, we often allude to this concept when talking about speed development, but rarely do we discuss how important this statement is and what effects it has on training and performance.

When watching skilled athletes run at full speed, there is commonality in the power and fluidity that these athletes display. They run smoothly and effortlessly. And they run the same way, every time. It is this consistency in the patterning of their movements, the skill of running fast, that creates that “Wow” factor when you see them in...

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Transitioning From Indoor to Outdoor Season

For the 110/100m hurdler, the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season can be a bit confusing – for the body and for the mind. For the indoor season, since the race is so short, the focus is primarily on mastering the start and the first three hurdles. As a result, conditioning will...

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Cut Step

The last step a hurdler takes prior to clearing a hurdle, commonly known as the cut step, is usually referred to by that term because the idea is to make the step a little shorter than the previous steps. So we’re talking about step 8, or in some cases 7, or in some cases 9...

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Talk Yourself Through

“I talk to myself Cause there is no one to talk to People ask me why I do what I do.” -Christopher Williams It’s a little bit funny that people who talk to themselves out loud are assumed to be crazy. All of us talk to ourselves silently all the time. But...

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The relationship between race length, previous experience and auditory reaction times in sprinters is explained; Research is presented identifying the necessary skills and behaviours for superior visual reaction times in field and racket sports; Training drills and equipment that can improve reaction times are described.

There aren’t many sports where having split second reactions isn’t an advantage. However, as John Shepherd explains, rapid reactions depend on numerous factors such as the auditory and visual senses, specific sports skill and experience. The good news is that while this aspect of sports performance is perhaps not fully appreciated, it can be specifically trained

Athletes who have the fastest reactions have more ‘thinking time’ to perform their specific sports’ skills and achieve winning performance. An obvious example is the 100m-sprinter, who gains a metre seemingly before the others have moved from their blocks when reacting to the gun. However,...

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