How to Use a Starting Block in Running

How to Use a Starting Block in Running
Starting blocks are used in sprint track races to allow the runner to reach full stride quicker. Pushing on the horizontal pad of the starting block propels the runner forward at a much faster pace than beginning flat-footed or in a crouch. A proficient runner can reach maximum speed within 20 meters of the starting line by correctly using starting blocks.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Starting blocks Running track
  • Starting blocks
  • Running track
Step 1
Determine where to set the blocks, and do so before taking them to the track. The distance between the front and the rear block should be approximately the same length as your shin. To estimate how far apart the blocks should be, start with the length of one foot and adjust until you feel comfortable.
Step 2
Set the blocks. It is important that they aren't too close to the starting line. When you are ready to race, your fingertips and the plane of your upper body must be behind the starting line. You do not want the starting blocks back too far either, or you will start the race at a disadvantage. As a rule of thumb, adjust the front block so it is two footsteps behind the starting line. Starting blocks have spikes on the bottom that will stick into the track. This prevents it from sliding away when you begin running. Set the block in the center of the lane and step down firmly on the top to press it into the track.
Step 3
Get in your "set" stance. When you step into the blocks, straddle the blocks, then step back one leg at a time. Bend your front leg at a 90-degree angle, and the back one at a 120-degree angle. Lower your upper body and rest your fingertips lightly on the track.
Step 4
Relax. Tension will at best slow you down out of the blocks and at worst lead you to jump in a false start. As long as there is motion on the line, the starter will not say "get set," so if something doesn't feel right, move around until you are comfortable. Once the starter says "get set," you must remain still.
Step 5
Once the gun goes off and the race begins, do not be in a hurry to stand straight up. Take between 20 and 30 meters to unfold your body and lengthen your stride. If you stand straight up out of the blocks, you will slow down your acceleration.

Tips & Warnings

Practice starting out of the blocks until you are comfortable. Warm up and stretch before practicing in the blocks.
Practice starting out of the blocks until you are comfortable.
Warm up and stretch before practicing in the blocks.
Know the rules; some races eliminate the participant if he false starts, while others allow one false start.

Article Written By Amy Hunter

Amy Hunter has been a writer since 1998. She writes about health and lifestyle issues and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in "Sacramento Parent," ASPCA's "Animal Watch" and other print and online publications. She is the author of "The History of Mexico" and "Tony Gonzalez: Superstar of Pro Football," aimed at young-adult readers.

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