5 Starting Blocks Tips for Young Athletes
Below are a five tips that young athletes can use to ensure that they get the most out of using starting blocks.
1. Hips Ahead of Front Block
A young athlete should try get into a “set” position that positions their hips slightly ahead of their front block (and therefore their front foot).
This will help them drive forward out of the blocks. Many young athletes “sit back” in the set position, which will position their hips behind their front foot. Driving out from a sitting-back position is slow and difficult.
2. Head & Eyes Down
Athletes should try to keep their head and eyes down as they accelerate from the blocks. It is helpful for them to imagine that all of their force is being directed out of the top of their head.
If an athlete looks up too soon, their torso will rise and their hips will drop, causing them to “put on the brakes” as their foot lands in front of their hips.
3. Push Not Pull
During their first few steps away from the blocks, the athlete’s feet should land under or behind their hips. Athletes must avoid over-striding.
When accelerating, a young athlete should “push” not “pull”. If they start reaching with their strides as they accelerate, when their foot hits the ground they will have to pull their hips forward rather than push them.
4. Force On The Back Block
Young athletes should focus on pushing out of the blocks with their back foot.
Both feet should push away from the blocks. Most athletes push with their front foot, but many just lift their back foot away from the back block. The back foot needs to assist the front foot as this will help the hips to move forward at the start.
5. First Movement Forward
A young athlete’s first movement on the sound of the gun must be forward.
When the gun goes, many young athletes go backward before they go forward, wasting valuable time. (This can often be picked up by videoing an athlete then watching it back at a slower speed).
- Hips ahead of front block.
- Head and eyes down.
- Push not pull.
- Force on the back block.
- First movement forward.
Which “secret” is your favourite?
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.