Sprint Start Block Angles For Maximum Acceleration

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Sprint Start Block Angles For Maximum Acceleration

Getting off to a good start in a sprint is critical..

The start affects the smooth execution of the whole race. The faster you accelerate at the start, the more potential you have for top end speed and the easier it is to get to your top end speed.

Sprint Start Block Angles For Maximum Acceleration 1One of the factors influencing the sprint start is the power output (force generation) of the athlete at the starting blocks.
Our recent research investigated the effect of starting block angles on force generation.

Twelve male club-level track sprinters performed a sprint start using different combinations of front and rear block angles (30 degrees, 40 degrees and 50 degrees). Force plates attached to the starting blocks were used to record force production and high tech infrared timing gates recorded speed over the first 5 and 10 metres.

Our study found that the greatest forces and speeds were produced with a front block angle of 30 degrees in combination with a rear block angles of 30 degrees.

Sprint Start Block Angles For Maximum Acceleration 2Lower block angles stretch the calf muscle prior to the explosive contraction during the sprint start. ‘Pre-stretching‘ a muscle in this way has been found to increase the subsequent force production so long as the pre-stretch is of a short duration. Consider the difference between a counter movement jump and a squat jump. A counter movement jump, where the subject squats and then immediately jumps generates more force (and distance or height in the jump) compared to a squat jump, where the subject starts from a squat position. Pre-stretching increases muscle activation and uses the elastic recoil of the muscle to increase force production.

Recommendation: these findings support the importance of the relationship between force generation at the front and rear blocks and sprint speed and indicate that athletes should be encouraged to adopt a low front block angle (30 degrees) in combination with a low rear block angle (30 degrees).

Stephen Cousins
Stephen Cousins is an Exercise Physiology Lecturer at La Trobe University.

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