Arkansas Track Start Tips

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By Chad Zimmerman

Sprints coach for the 2006 SEC Champ Arkansas Razorbacks and countless NCAA, NJCAA and Olympic medal-winning sprinters gives you expert instructions and coaching points for getting out of the blocks fast. 

1. Before you even set up the blocks, find your strong leg. It's usually the leg opposite your dominant side—left leg for right-handers and vice versa.
2. Set your blocks so the front block is two footsteps away from the line and the back block is three footsteps away.
3. Place your strong leg in the front block with that leg creating a 90-degree angle. Dorsi-flex your foot, so your heel is back on the pad as much as possible.
4. Put your other leg in the back block with your leg creating a 130-degree angle. This foot should also be dorsi-flexed, so your heel is as far back on the pad as possible.
5. Your butt should be up—just above your shoulders—and your neck and chin in a neutral position—not looking up or totally tucked under. Look straight down at the line.
6. Position your hands right outside your knees, so they aren't spread out in the whole lane or directly underneath you.
7. Stand as balanced as possible and keep as much pressure as possible on your feet while maintaining a forward lean.
8. For your first step, if your left foot is in front, drive your left hand straight toward your nose or chest. Keep your back arm slightly bent and drive it back. Sweep your hands off the ground; don't pick them up. Create a blocking force to enable your body to recover and make the next step. You want to produce an extremely forceful arm action.
9. Drive your body to your first step; don't reach for it. This step should land about three feet away from the front pad—not the line. If you're really fast, your first step can land up to three and a half feet from the pad.
10. Drive through the first 15 meters of the race. As you get faster over time, aim to drive through the first 30 meters. However, you should be in the drive phase only as long as you're accelerating. Once you stop accelerating, you should be upright.


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