Hips up

The hips should be raised above shoulder level. The angle created with the front leg should be 90 – 100° and the angle of the back leg should be 120 – 130°. The toes should just touch the track and the heels should be pressed back against the foot pedals. The body should have a little forward lean with shoulders slightly over the hands. The head should be down and eyes focused about 3 feet in front of start line.

Block Placement

The front block should be placed 2 steps, toe to heel, from the start line. The back block should be placed 3 steps, toe to heel, from the start line. This is not an exact science but is a good place to start. The angle of the foot pedals should be around 45 – 60°. 

Determine the Power Leg

The first step to the block start is to determine which leg is the power leg and which leg is your speed leg. This is important because the power leg will be placed in the front block and used to propel the body. 

There are several ways to determine which leg is the power leg, but I like to use two pretty common methods. The first method is to stand tall with your arms by your side, on command, bring your arms across your chest as fast as possible. The arm that hits the chest first is usually your speed side and the arm landing on top of the other is usually your power side. The other method is to stand tall with your feet slightly apart and have someone come up from behind and give you a push forward. The leg you use to break your fall or to catch yourself is usually your power leg. 

Leg Position

The lead leg should drive upward with the foot crossing up and over the opposite knee. The thigh of the lead leg should be parallel to the track, while the foot is extended forward and the ankle maintained in a dorsiflexed position. The lead leg should swing downward with the foot landing on the mid-foot or ball of the foot. The foot should land under the body while slightly flexing the ankle. This flexion action of the ankle upon foot strike will help propel the body forward. The ankle should then be quickly returned to a dorsiflexed position and the process repeated.

Torso Position

The torso should remain square to the track with no twisting or rotating motion.  The hips should be slightly tucked in to provide more lift for the legs and abs should be tight.

Arm Position

The arms should be relaxed and bent at about a 90° angle. The arms should swing in unison with the opposite leg – this is thought to help drive the leg. The arms should swing up to about face level and back just past the hips. This motion is often referred to as swinging the arms “cheek to cheek” or “ear to rear”. The hands should be as relaxed as possible. The hands should not be clenched like a fist.  This can be accomplished by cupping the fingers and placing the thumb on the top finger, by extending the fingers like you are performing a chop, or by lightly pressing the thumb to the index finger with the other fingers loose.