Starting Blocks for Track and Field

Whether you watch the greatest sprinters of all-time or high school sprinters: the start is a key factor for a great race, and it all begins out of the blocks.

Starting blocks are used in the sprinting workouts and races up to 400 meters and both hurdles in track and field.

The block start has phases: alignment, set position, and start.

Alignment

The front pedal is set two steps away from the start line of the race. The backpedal should be three steps away from the starting line.

The sprinter will back into the pedals and firmly place the feet into the block pads; the top of the spike shoe should be on track with the front foot.

After firmly placing the feet into the blocks, the sprinter will kneel on the rear leg and place the hands just behind the starting line, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The fingers are held together, with the thumbs in. The hands are placed with the thumbs under the shoulders, ready to support the runner's bodyweight. The sprinter should look down, with the back of the head and spine in a straight line.

Runners will bring a tape measure to competitions to measure the exact spacing of the blocks from the starting line.

Set Position

On the "set" command from the starter, the runner slowly rises. The hips will rise slightly higher than the shoulders; the bodyweight is shifted forward over the shoulders. The arms are straightened with the hands supporting the runner's weight. The feet maintain pressure on the blocks with the tip of the shoe still on the track.

If you look at knee angles, the front knee is bent between 90 and 100 degrees. The rear knee has a bend of 120-135 degrees. The angle can depend on the athlete's strength level; younger athletes with a limited training base will often have the hips rise more during the set command.

Start

The back leg is driven forward at the sound of the gun as the front leg extends, pushing off the block pedal. The arms are aggressively extended, forward and back. If the rear leg is the right leg, the left arm is driven forward as the right arm is pushed back. The head stays neutral on the start, looking down the track slightly.

The body thrust forward and slightly upward at the start of the race. The start can develop with proper sprinting workouts for track and field athletes.

Once the runner is out of the blocks, the drive phase begins.

Block Start Review

  • Properly position the body with the blocks
  • Focus on proper body alignment and angles in the set position
  • Drive forward out of the blocks
  • Maintain body position into the drive phase

Sprinting Workouts with Starting Blocks

4x30m  @95% with 4 minute recovery

5x20m @95% with 3 minute recovery

6x10m @95% with 3 minute recovery

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