New track start tips
Did you know that the swimming world ‘borrowed’ the track start from track and field?
At least 90% of the points listed in this track start article (for running) apply to the front start in swimming (especially the part that includes the angle of your hips and knees). Another essential part includes the technique involved in blasting off the block (so please read carefully). The arm action off the block (in swimming) is another aspect as there is no pull (in track). I recommend the Butterfly Start as your best option because it promotes the most vigorous drive off the block.
Use proper head position in the water to balance your body.
“You want to press your forehead down in the water until you feel your hips pop up,” says Bowman.
Although elite swimmers will pick their head up a little when swimming freestyle, for the rest of us, snow-plowing the water with our foreheads creates more drag, causes the hips to sink (more drag), and throws our body line out of position (yup, more drag).
Tips For A Olympic Start In Track
On Your Mark
One of the things you should look for in the “On Your Marks” position is good angles in the blocks. Body position is everything in a start, and it plays a huge role in how much explosion you are setting yourself up for when the gun goes off.
- The thigh of your back leg should be perpendicular to the ground.
- The shin on your front foot should be parallel to the ground.
- Your arms should be straight but not hyperextended and held slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Your shoulders should be slightly over your hands.
- Both your head and neck should be relaxed in a natural position.
- Your eyes should be focused on the ground below you.
- Your hands should form a bridge with your fingers spread apart.
When moving into the “Set” position, you are preparing for an extremely explosive forward movement. There are many key points you need to look for. If you are positioned incorrectly, it could be the difference between first and second place. There should be no type of lowering of the body at any time during the “Set” phase—meaning your hips cannot lower, the angles cannot decrease, and your shoulders cannot roll forward before you begin running. When you do these things improperly, getting into the acceleration phase takes more time, because your body will be trying to get into the right position. Focus on getting into your stance and staying completely still until the gun goes off.
- Your hips should rise slowly and your shoulders should remain where they are.
- Push your whole foot completely back against the block.
- Your legs should be positioned to shoot you forward, not up.
- Your front leg should be angled at 90-100 degrees.
- Your back leg should be angled at 120-135 degrees.
- Eyes remain looking down at the ground below you.
Finally, when the beep goes off and your acceleration starts, you are combining technique and power to get moving as fast as possible. Good form when pushing off makes your strides longer and improves the speed at which your feet move. Your knees and arms are the most important parts of the acceleration phase. Driving both in unison makes all the difference in a sprint. The higher your arm goes, the higher your knee will rise.
- Push both feet off the blocks at the same time and explode out as far as possible.
- Your back leg needs to reach triple extension in the hip, knee, and ankle, maximizing stride length at each step.
- The angle of your entire body should be 45 degrees and leaning forward.
- Your knees should fire up aggressively and your arms should be moving fast.
- Focus your eyes 5 meters down the track.
- Stride length and stride frequency should increase with each step.
- As the acceleration phase progresses (after about 20-25 meters), gradually raise your head until you are running tall and in an upright position.