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swimlong
January 8th, 2012, 10:48 AM
Everyone seems to be doing "track starts" off the block now - one leg behind the other. How and why do you do this? I haven't been in a meet for a long time...back then everyone did the "grab start". Any instructions on doing a track start would be appreciated.

PatrickJM
January 8th, 2012, 11:42 AM
One advantage is your body is getting forward motion sooner. Some of the blocks have track start ledges for the rear foot, which I would like to try. Then again I'd like to have a ledge underwater for my backstroke start too.

TomK3
January 8th, 2012, 11:50 AM
I'd like to hear about this too. I recently did my first meet in about 40 years and I did a "track" because everyone else was doing it. It felt pretty good, even tho I hadn't practiced it - otoh, I had so much adrenaline going that I don't remember much....Tom

gdanner
January 8th, 2012, 02:55 PM
Everyone seems to be doing "track starts" off the block now - one leg behind the other. How and why do you do this? I haven't been in a meet for a long time...back then everyone did the "grab start". Any instructions on doing a track start would be appreciated.

Faster reaction time.

Per USA Swimming, here are some text instructions:



Description


Swimmers can use either a grab start with two feet forward or a track start with one foot back. Dependent upon their age and development, swimmers may feel better balance in the track start.
Strong leg back, toes straight ahead
Other leg forward, toes over the edge
Hands grab block on each side of front leg, thumbs forward
Look down or slightly back
Forward knee over the toes, hips over the heels
Lean forward

Actions


Pull down for an instant
Head and arms thrown forward
Drive with the legs
Perform a shallow dive

Mistakes


Leaning back excessively
Head too far up or too far down. (Keep head in neutral position after leaving block)
Hands or head thrown too high
No leg push
Breaking at the hips or executing a start in the pike position

I typically do flat starts because I feel better balanced. That and if you do track starts, you have to deal with more variance in your starts meet to meet (different depths and material on blocks).

I have tried track starts a few times and did them at some USA-S meets with the aforementioned back "ledge" which is also referred to as adjustable footrests.


Specifically, the footrest permits swimmers to start with the back leg at a 90 angle, obtaining an ideal position for the launch. This solution allows the swimmer to gain up to one tenth of a second in start signal reaction time. One example can be seen here: http://www.myrthapools.com/eng/news/detail/myrtha-track-start-the-newest-starting-blocks-from-myrtha-pools.htm

These blocks are not common though, presumably because they are expensive.

rxleakem
January 8th, 2012, 04:36 PM
I usually do track starts, unless the block is really slippery. At a clinic last year, it was stressed to push the front knee forward at the beep, then spring the legs. As noted above, a forward center of gravity is important, so once you drive the knee forward you are falling forward. (Greg's info above is really good - thanks)

aztimm
January 8th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Everyone seems to be doing "track starts" off the block now - one leg behind the other. How and why do you do this? I haven't been in a meet for a long time...back then everyone did the "grab start". Any instructions on doing a track start would be appreciated.

Can you define Everyone?

In the meets I've done in the past 2 years, I'd estimate anywhere from 30 to 50% still do the "grab start". (myself included)

Unless the start is going to save me 1-2 seconds (or more), I'd rather devote my time swimming to actually being in the pool. But I'm far from a fast swimmer.

james lucas
January 8th, 2012, 08:15 PM
Unless the start is going to save me 1-2 seconds (or more) ...
I became a convert after nationals last spring, while breaking out after a grab start in the 100 free. It's not a race I swim often, nor particularly well these days, but in any case I figured I shouldn't be more than half a body length behind the guy next to me after the start.

Rich Abrahams
January 8th, 2012, 08:31 PM
I'm a bit confused. I just switched over to the track start this year and have always put my strong leg forward, like I would in a running race. It just seems much more natural to me. But the USA Swimming instructions say to have the strong leg back. For those of you experienced track starters, which do you prefer? Thanks for any feedback.

SwimStud
January 8th, 2012, 08:48 PM
I'm a bit confused. I just switched over to the track start this year and have always put my strong leg forward, like I would in a running race. It just seems much more natural to me. But the USA Swimming instructions say to have the strong leg back. For those of you experienced track starters, which do you prefer? Thanks for any feedback.

I use track for Free but grab for Fly and Breast...
Free style I used the best leg back and have gotten used to it. I theorise that best leg forward feels better from a balance and power POV. Having the back leg behind probably allows for a stronger, smoother forward push and reduces the risk of any lateral "wobble" that a weaker leg might have. My front leg feels "crunched up" due to the block angle with the leg poised for a upwards power motion (until the body gets propelled forwards beyond it). That's my thoughts anyhow... haven't done coaching investigation into it.

The Fortress
January 8th, 2012, 09:01 PM
I'm a bit confused. I just switched over to the track start this year and have always put my strong leg forward, like I would in a running race. It just seems much more natural to me. But the USA Swimming instructions say to have the strong leg back. For those of you experienced track starters, which do you prefer? Thanks for any feedback.


Same here. Strong left leg is forward.

Plus, it seems like you get a lot more push with the front leg than the back leg. Perhaps the fancy blocks with the back ledge might change that.

Jazz Hands
January 8th, 2012, 09:17 PM
I'm a bit confused. I just switched over to the track start this year and have always put my strong leg forward, like I would in a running race. It just seems much more natural to me. But the USA Swimming instructions say to have the strong leg back. For those of you experienced track starters, which do you prefer? Thanks for any feedback.

I don't know what my strong leg is, but I do my track starts the same way I ride a snowboard, goofy, with the right foot forward.

That Guy
January 8th, 2012, 10:19 PM
I don't know what my strong leg is, but I do my track starts the same way I ride a snowboard, goofy, with the right foot forward.

If I asked you to hop around on one leg, which leg would you choose? That's your strong leg. I've always done track starts and my strong leg goes forward.

Jazz Hands
January 8th, 2012, 10:23 PM
If I asked you to hop around on one leg, which leg would you choose? That's your strong leg. I've always done track starts and my strong leg goes forward.

Me too, then. Yes, you actually made me hop on one foot.

That Guy
January 8th, 2012, 10:37 PM
Me too, then. Yes, you actually made me hop on one foot.
It's only January 8th and I've already peaked for the year. :D

jaadams1
January 8th, 2012, 10:39 PM
I'm a bit confused. I just switched over to the track start this year and have always put my strong leg forward, like I would in a running race. It just seems much more natural to me. But the USA Swimming instructions say to have the strong leg back. For those of you experienced track starters, which do you prefer? Thanks for any feedback.

I'm right handed/footed, yet on my track start I do my left foot forward. Always have. I breathe only to my right on freestyle as well, and the way I swim my left side of my body is dominant as well. I can do more one handed pushups on my left side as well.

It's more of just a personal preference than anything with the right foot/left foot. Do what is natural. Next time you're up for a sprint in a meet warmup, try the other foot than normal forward and see how you do. :)

That Guy
January 8th, 2012, 10:47 PM
I'm right handed/footed, yet on my track start I do my left foot forward. Always have. I breathe only to my right on freestyle as well, and the way I swim my left side of my body is dominant as well. I can do more one handed pushups on my left side as well.

It's more of just a personal preference than anything with the right foot/left foot. Do what is natural. Next time you're up for a sprint in a meet warmup, try the other foot than normal forward and see how you do. :)

I'm left-footed but my right leg is my strong leg. The right leg is planted while the left foot is kicking a ball or whatever.

jaadams1
January 8th, 2012, 10:54 PM
I'm left-footed but my right leg is my strong leg. The right leg is planted while the left foot is kicking a ball or whatever.

OK, with seeing that, I'm the same as you. :afraid:

aztimm
January 8th, 2012, 11:19 PM
I became a convert after nationals last spring, while breaking out after a grab start in the 100 free. It's not a race I swim often, nor particularly well these days, but in any case I figured I shouldn't be more than half a body length behind the guy next to me after the start.

So how much time does the track start save you -v- the grab start? I'm assuming you've done timed swims with each and compared the times?

It sounds like there's an issue with your grab start. I've never been far behind others in my heats off the block, and in some cases I've been ahead of them. I have no idea which they're doing, as I'm concentrating on myself, but I'd assume about half(ish) are doing each.

swimlong
January 9th, 2012, 12:02 AM
That Guy says: "I'm left-footed but my right leg is my strong leg. The right leg is planted while the left foot is kicking a ball or whatever." (sorry, don't know how to quote on this forum)

Yes, this makes sense to me. I run/coach track...I explain to runners that their stronger "load" leg is forward in a track block start. Their "fast" leg is behind. Usually right handed people have a stronger left leg - it's their "plant" leg in soccer. The right leg is the more agile, faster moving leg. Hence at the gun, the push in a track race would come from the left leg, and the right leg is faster to move.

Mind you, arms - being much less in mass - move faster than legs. So in track and field, the mental training off the block is to think of fast arms...the legs will follow. A typical right handed person, wih their left leg forward in the "load" position, will focus on driving the right arm back and the left arm forward on the gun as the right leg drives forward into the first step.

What are arms supposed to do in a swimming race?

I have never seen the new, back raised blocks pictured in the above posts. They remind me of track and field starting blocks....pretty soon, I predict, the angle on the back part of the block will be adjustable, as they are in track and field... but I digress.

My first meet in over a decade is next month...I have no idea what type of blocks there will be, but I anticiate the old school type. Wish me luck!
Thanks for all your imput.
http://forums.usms.org/images/smilies/smiley_canada_flag_ani.gif

Rykno
January 9th, 2012, 02:37 AM
I do the grab start, but our pool will be getting the track starting blocks in the coming 4-6 weeks, once I can practice doing a track start I will most likely go over to it, when the blocks have the ledge on the back.

I don't know my reaction time, but I have a picture of me at the start of a race where my feet and toes are extended as much as they can, and I am about 12-15" off the block and the others in the picture still have contact. that using a grab start.

rxleakem
January 9th, 2012, 07:45 AM
I do the grab start, but our pool will be getting the track starting blocks in the coming 4-6 weeks, once I can practice doing a track start I will most likely go over to it, when the blocks have the ledge on the back.
That is another good point. Some blocks are too small length-wise, so a grab start is more effective. At the clinic, they mentioned that the first reaction with the grab start is to lift the toes up, starting the fall to the water.

With track starts, my left leg is forward (I kick a ball with my right foot)

SwimStud
January 9th, 2012, 10:58 AM
I explain to runners that their stronger "load" leg is forward in a track block start. Their "fast" leg is behind. Usually right handed people have a stronger left leg - it's their "plant" leg in soccer. The right leg is the more agile, faster moving leg. Hence at the gun, the push in a track race would come from the left leg, and the right leg is faster to move.


this makes sense and despite my previous post is probably what is happening regardless of what it feels like. Also the back leg speed may help that forward momentum going before the strong leg engages amd pushes so the best power goes forward not straight up from the squat position. Interesting posts though.

Allen Stark
January 9th, 2012, 11:12 AM
The track start offers faster reaction time and generally a flatter entry.The grab start offers greater thrust.What is better for you is a matter of trial and error. A few of the Australians still use the grab start.Other advantages of the track start are more stability on the block and it's easier if you have poor back flexibility.
The most important thing on the start is that you can consistently get all your body through the same spot on entry(diving "through the keyhole".)The start that helps you do that is the best start for you.

ande
January 9th, 2012, 11:32 AM
"track starts" Any instructions on doing a track start would be appreciated.
How and why do you do this?
Track starts
+ tend to be faster in terms of reaction time or block time,
+ are more stable from a balance point of view,
+ require less flexibility, &
+ can enable the swimmer to dive with more force and speed

these may help:

Tip 10 Start with Starts

Tip 136 The Magic Surge Dive

Tip 172 Track Starts

Tip 177a Crocker's Track Start Tips

Tip 196 Backstroke Starts

Tip 221 Backstroke Starts Foot Position

Tip 322 More about Starts


The best ways to learn how to do track starts are:

+ watch great starters and copy them,
+ get one on one instruction from a great starter & instructor,
+ have someone video you doing starts,
(if you want comments from us, put your videos on youtube & provide a link )

orca1946
January 9th, 2012, 11:38 AM
I still use the "old" start position with 2 feet at the front edge. My reason is the 3 hip surgeries in 11 years. I feel more stable in this position. "Old guys rule"!

SwimStud
January 9th, 2012, 11:42 AM
I still use the "old" start position with 2 feet at the front edge. My reason is the 3 hip surgeries in 11 years. I feel more stable in this position. "Old guys rule"!

Where is the "like" button for this post?

Rich Abrahams
January 9th, 2012, 02:23 PM
The most important thing on the start is that you can consistently get all your body through the same spot on entry(diving "through the keyhole".)The start that helps you do that is the best start for you.

Exactly! When you hit your entry correctly you get a sense of acceleration right after entry. If your body creates turbulance it's like putting on the brakes. I've gotten to be more consistent hitting a clean entry with the track start so I've made the switch. I'm still toying with weight forward/neutral/back, initial head position and what to do with my arms.

gobears
January 9th, 2012, 02:37 PM
Allen - I'm curious if you use a grab start for breaststroke. Way back when track starts first came around, the thinking was that you could go deeper on a grab start and it was better for breaststroke pull outs. As a breaststroker, I've never switched over from the grab start because of that thinking. Is that outdated now?

ande
January 9th, 2012, 02:51 PM
Exactly! When you hit your entry correctly you get a sense of acceleration right after entry. If your body creates turbulance it's like putting on the brakes. I've gotten to be more consistent hitting a clean entry with the track start so I've made the switch. I'm still toying with weight forward/neutral/back, initial head position and what to do with my arms.

Watch some of the best sprinters in the world, some of them throw the calf on their back foot up and forward while their front foot is still attached to the block.

Meet results show RT / Reaction Time, but RT is really "block time"
It's the amount of time swimmers spent on the block after the gun goes off.

True RT is the amount of time that passes between the beep and the swimmers first starting movement on the block.

Looks like RTs are faster in meets that have wedge blocks. Wedges for the back foot.

At the UT Swim Center with blocks with out wedges the best sprinters RT under 0.70.
Vlad Morozof has RTed under 0.60 in several races.

jaadams1
January 9th, 2012, 08:13 PM
So how much time does the track start save you -v- the grab start? I'm assuming you've done timed swims with each and compared the times?

I have a picture of me vs. knelson that shows this difference. I may beat him off the start now, but his age group endurance program should (but won't :D ) kick my butt in the pool!!

Allen Stark
January 10th, 2012, 12:02 PM
Allen - I'm curious if you use a grab start for breaststroke. Way back when track starts first came around, the thinking was that you could go deeper on a grab start and it was better for breaststroke pull outs. As a breaststroker, I've never switched over from the grab start because of that thinking. Is that outdated now?
I still use the grab start because I have found it faster for me.It is not the fastest off the block for me,but it is the fastest to 15 M.
I think butterflyers with a good SDK should experiment with the grab start.It is easier to leave the block with a slightly up angle with the grab start.
Many coaches teaching the track start recommend launching from the blocks straight out(horizontal.)This leads to good reaction times but is not good physics.You are never going faster than in the air so the further you go in the air the faster you will be.For maximum distance you want to be vectoring up and out,not straight out.