Standing Start Techniques in Sprinting

You can attain maximum speed faster with a standing start than a crouched one.
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Although the starting blocks in track and field are almost synonymous with short-distance sprinting events, some athletes prefer to use a simple standing start technique in order to attain maximum running speed faster and more effectively. The standing start technique doesn't tense the muscles as much as the starting blocks, but it has several distinct advantages and should be explored as a viable alternative.

Standing Start Technique

A standing sprint start is about as simple as it sounds. Your lead foot is placed just before the starting line and your feet remain shoulder-width apart. You want to balance about two thirds of your body weight on your front foot with a slight forward lean and a slight bend to the knees. Keep your head, back and neck in line and synchronize your right arm with your left foot, and visa versa. Remain motionless before the start of the race.


Although most conventional starting techniques involve crouched positions, the standing technique offers a few advantages, chief among them being your ability to reach your ideal upright stride sooner. During the maximum speed phase of a sprint, your torso should be upright and you should only have a slight forward lean. Starting in the standing position allows you to enter seamlessly into the maximum speed phase without having to rise up or straighten out of the starting blocks. Standing starts are sometimes used by runners at distances of 400 meters or more, since they don't require an explosive start like 100- and 200-meter events.

Conventional Start Techniques

For most sprinters, the starting blocks offer the most familiar and explosive start to a short-distance sprint. Sprinters start in a crouched position, balancing their body weight between the balls of their feet and their outstretched fingertips. The blocks keep the sprinters' heels off the ground and the crouched position is meant to tense the muscles of the lower body, allowing athletes to spring into action with more power.

The Science

Although crouching starts are far more common among elite sprinters, some believe the standing start to be superior. A 2001 study conducted by the University of San Francisco found that the standing start technique allowed athletes to reach a top speed faster and maintain it longer than crouched starting positions.

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