University of Tennessee Baton Exchange Tips

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A seamless handoff can win the race, and, conversely, the slightest fumble can cost your team a place on the podium. Simply put, relay races are won or lost during the passing of the baton.

Here, former University of Tennessee T&F coach Norbert Elliott offers instruction for executing the all-important baton exchange.

For the Incoming Runner

  • Run through entire exchange zone at max speed; don't slow down in anticipation of handing off baton

Elliott: "You need to run the zone and not the man."

  • Pass baton to outgoing runner at your max speed

Elliott: "The baton exchange is easier when your speeds match."

  • Use verbal command like "reach" or "stick" to perfectly sync arm movements with outgoing runner

Elliott: "Using a verbal command can counter your tendency to slow down."

  • Pass baton in a pushing motion

Elliott: "Since it's a blind exchange for the outgoing runner, you are responsible for placing the baton in his or her hand."

For the Outgoing Runner

  • Mark two foot-long areas in your exchange zone with tape. Stand at second tape, waiting for incoming runner. Begin sprinting when he or she hits first tape

Elliott: "Make sure your marks enable both of you to be at maximum speed when the exchange occurs."

  • Accelerate off mark as hard as possible

Elliott: "You want to maximize the exchange zone. To do that, lead the incoming runner as much as possible."

  • Upon receiving verbal command, angle arm just outside shoulder with a slight bend in elbow. Keep thumb deposed, palm flat and fingers together

Elliott: "Don't open your fingers. That provides a sloppy target and increases your tendency to grab."

  • Keep target visible to incoming runner

Elliott: "Keep your arm and hand up, right between the chest and chin, so the incoming runner can't miss it."


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