Getting a great start in a race will put you at an advantage. Once you are in front at the start, the rest of the field has to play catch-up with your pace, speed, and deceleration.
If you have done the right speed-endurance conditioning training, your competitors will find it difficult to catch you if you have got off to a blistering start.
There are a few things you can focus on to improve your start when sprinting so you can gain the advantage needed to excel in the race.
You need to be able to explode from the start position.
In the sprints, you will be in a crouching starting position. But you won’t be able to get the full advantage if you aren’t able to explode using the power in your hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and ankle flexion to get out and into your acceleration mode.
Rather than focusing on the starts solely, work on the explosive exercises that will allow you to get your body in the right position so you can power out of the blocks successfully.
What exercises will you need to do to help you improve your start?
Do these to train your muscles how to explode from a low single-leg position. The emphasis will fall on your glutes as you power up.
Aim to do this with good technique and ideally in barefeet. Aim to do full squats to get your muscles used to exerting power from a low position.
You want to get your body exerting power through the complete hip hingement. Progressively overload the muscles using this exercise and explode so that you will be able to generate more power on the track.
Weighted hip thrusts.
These will help you build strength and power, which will see you improve your horizontal acceleration, speed, and stride length.
Bounding from a static start for speed and distance.
You want to get your body used to exerting power. So you will need to do bounding from a static starting position (ideally in a low position to simulate the starting position, such as a 3-point start) and then power through for maximum power and turnover.
What starting drills should you focus on?
You want to focus on the first 20-30m of the race, which is the power phase, which will transfer into the acceleration phase.
You will be taking the power development that you have been doing at the gym and with plyometrics and put it into a real-life racing scenario.
You will also train yourself to improve your reaction time. However, it is more important for you to drive out of the starting position comfortably and with quick turnover.
Your quick turnover won’t be any good if you don’t have the power to lengthen your stride. So make sure you continue to develop your power and stride length as it will be important in the latter stages of the race.
Starting drills – 20m starts.
Have someone start a timer and record your 20m speed times. If you have access to an electronic timer, that would be ideal as you will be able to record more accurate data and eliminate the human error with the timings.
Conduct each start (at least 10) and aim for 95% intensity since you want to focus on developing your technique, power, turnover, and control.
Sprinting start running angle.
You will be powering out on a 45-60 degree angle until you reach the end of your acceleration phase. You must train your body to power horizontally whilst your body is at that angle.