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Starts

Students learn techniques for great race starts

Warm-Up Light jog, dynamic activity, form activities
Skill Development Finding your power leg, the standing start, the crouch start
Wrap-Up Game Red light, green light
Cool Down Light jog, static stretching
Printable PDF of this Session

Warm-up

Light Jog (2-5 minutes)

Lead the group on a light jog.

Dynamic Activity (5-8 minutes)

You will need cones and a stopwatch. Set up cones in different formations such as straight lines, zigzags, or circles. Students can run around the cones for up to one minute. After one minute, you can set up the cones in a different formation and repeat the activity.

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in dynamic stretches.

See the Supplementary Session on Stretching for additional dynamic stretches drills

Form Activities (3-5 minutes)

High Knees

Students can do high knees in place 15 to 20 seconds. Tell them to maintain an upright body position while bringing the knee level with the hip and pulling the toe up towards the shin. Alternate legs quickly, while taking very small steps forward. Move arms in a coordinated fashion with legs as if running.

Butt Kicks

Students can do butt kicks in place for 15 to 20 seconds. Tell them to keep the back straight while moving forward slowly with quick, light leg movements that bring the heels toward the buttocks. Emphasize speed in completing the motion, not moving forward.

High Skips

Runners can practice power skipping at 10-, 20-, 40-meter intervals. Drive arms and legs upward in an exaggerated skipping motion. Bring the leg toward the chest while the opposite arm reaches up. Emphasize getting as far off the ground as possible.

Finding Your Power Leg

Have students pair off. One partner stands with their feet shoulder-width apart, facing away from their partner. The other partner lightly pushes the standing partner forward. The leg that leaves the ground last is usually the "power leg" and should be used to push off in starts.

The Standing Start

Have students stand side by side along a line (use chalk if necessary). Explain what students should do when they hear the following directions:

  1. On your marks: Place the power leg directly behind the starting line (your front foot) with the "weaker leg" (your back foot)about 1.5 feet behind it. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Stand erect and still.
  2. Set/Get set: Bend at the knees and lower head and shoulders until they are slightly above hip level. Body weight should be on the front foot. The opposite arm is moved forward in a bent position, ready to drive backward at the "Go" command, and the other arm is placed slightly back to balance. Hold the position.
  3. Go: Step forward first with the back foot, pushing off the front foot while thrusting the opposite arm backward. Drive forward vigorously with arms and legs. Gradually, come to an erect position over about 10 feet distance while running forward. Remind students that standing up too soon will slow them down.

The Crouch Start

Have students stand side by side along a line (use chalk if necessary). Explain what students should do when they hear the following directions:

  1. On your marks: Walk up to the starting line. The power leg's foot should always be close to the starting line. Kneel down so that the back knee is lowered to the ground next to the front foot. Place the hands on the ground, spreading them shoulder-width apart with the thumb and index finger placed behind the starting line and the rest of the fingers bunched in back of the index finger. The fingers and thumb form a supporting bridge. The shoulders are over the starting line, the back knee is on the ground, and the arms are straight. Body weight should be to the rear.
  2. Set/Get set: Raise the hips slightly above the shoulders as you raise the back knee off the ground. Keep the arms straight. Shift the body weight forward over the hands. Imagine that you are a coiled spring. Hold the position while concentrating on start signal.
  3. Go: When all runners are still, the starter will give the "Go" command. React as quickly as possible. Uncoil, exploding out of the start by pushing the feet against the ground forcefully to drive out and up. Step forward first with the back foot and push off the front foot. Gradually, come to an erect position over the course of 25 feet while running forward. Remind students that standing up too soon will slow them down.

Students should take time to practice the different starts, including running 30 to 50 feet out in front after takeoff. It is suggested to practice about 8 to 10 starts per student. Depending on numbers and ability levels students may do less or more. Students can also practice racing each other out of the start.

Wrap-up Game

Red Light, Green Light

You will need cones and/or boundary markers for this game. Students stand behind a marked line and get ready in a standing or crouched start position. One student, the "stoplight," stands about 50 feet away from the group. When the "stoplight" turns away from the other students, everyone takes off from their start positions. Once the "stoplight" turns around, everyone must freeze in a start position where they stopped for three seconds. Students who move when they should be frozen go back to the starting line. The objective is to be the first student to tag the "stoplight." Play this game a few times rotating in a different student to be the stoplight.

Cool Down

Light Jog (2-5 minutes)

Lead the group on a light jog.

Static Stretching (3-5 minutes)

Have students form a circle around you and lead them in static stretches.

Please see the Supplementary Session on Stretching for additional stretches.

Youth and Schools