Never say Never


Crouch starts are nothing new, and ironically enough a former BU Student Thomas Burke was one of the first to exploit the low start seen in the photo above. The purpose of such a start is to take advantage of the tibial strikes (shin angles) to move horizontal. The reason I share the history of starting techniques is that we have some interesting debate on how to move forward best in a 40y dash and we can learn a lot from history and simple thinking. Obviously some strength coaches have weight on ensuring that information coming from track coaches is not respected, because if one starts listening to technique it will open Pandora’s Box to other training concepts, such as strength training methods and other scienes that may be better than that guru’s own realm of expertise.

Accelerating from a crouch position requires both legs to fully maximize propulsion. Some are advocating on leg dominance and I can’s see why. Both legs contribute and requesting athletes to bias the force production to the front leg is not going to hamper the athlete that much but isn’t two better than one? Years ago the hot lift was used in some circles with some success but is one leg better or equal to two legs? The real question is their any contribution to the start of a crouch start with the rear leg? While it’s clear with blocks in track because of the research, not much has been studied with the rear leg contributions to the acceleration of a crouch start. Readers should be encouraged to contribute an upload of any research to share what happens. Conjectures are welcome too.

While the blocks enable more aggressive potential with pedal settings (inclination), the truth is much of the start setting has universal concepts without blocks. This is the dirty secret many coaches are paranoid in revealing as starting technique is one of the gray areas to those with poor understanding of physics. The placement of the feet and the type of shoe will have a big role in how aggressive one can start. Often the slip will occur because the rear foot is too aggressive on a track or wet grass field. Hips low run slow, Butt high to fly is often stated with track but does that apply to football starts? Leg angles as well as a forward COM is primary, since starts need to be tailored to the athlete. Low hips usually cause athletes to pop up as starting angles are too vertical. A football player simply will not have his butt up as high as track athletes but a rear leg that is spaced properly will cause the hips to rise. Simple suggestions like one foot back and look here or there are for those that don’t know the physics. Sure footing, smooth calibration of steps, and fast times in the first 10y are key.

Do Charlie or other coaches do their mat jump work from blocks? No that I see. That is evidence enough that people are training starting without such track devices. In face most of the events don’t include blocks and are from standing positions that require acceleration.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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