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by Nicolette Mok

We’ve all heard the saying: A good start is half the battle won.


This is especially important in a short-distance athletics race, be it sprint hurdles or regular sprints, where every split second counts. For this reason, many athletes favour the use of starting blocks, which facilitate a better push-off, giving them the acceleration needed when beginning a race.

 starting blocksA good start is half the battle won. Team Singapore's Kerstin Ong on the starting blocks. Photo: SportSG

To begin, place the entire set of blocks with the tip about slightly shorter than a foot’s length away from the starting line. Position both the blocks side-by-side on the metal frame, a foot’s length away from the tip.


Decide which of your feet you’d prefer to take your first step with. Generally, this would be your master foot. Push the block on your master side back another foot’s length away, and adjust the inclination angle of both blocks to one that is comfortable for you.


Get in position, crouching on the ground with your feet against the blocks. Place your hands where the tip of your starting blocks are, but on the starting line. Space them apart with a distance of around two thumb-to-pinky lengths away, both ways from the middle.

 starting blocksKerstin Ong demonstrates the right position for the command "Set", with buttocks up, feet fully flushed with the blocks, and fingers behind the start line. Photo: SportSG

Now that you’ve gotten the set-up right, it is important to practise the three different push-off positions that will aid your acceleration. Familiarising yourself with these positions is necessary so that your reaction to the starting calls will become second nature, and you don’t waste precious split-seconds that might win you the race.


The three starting calls comprise of “Ready”, “Set”, and “Go”, although “Go” may sometimes be substituted with a sound from the starting gun instead.


When you hear the “Ready” call, bring your body weight forward. Your knees should not be on the ground but ensure that your hands and feet do not move. Lift your buttocks at the “Set” call, keeping your hands and feet still in their starting position. Your knees should be slightly bent.


Finally, push off at the sound of “Go” or “bang”, staying low at the start and gradually bringing your upper body upwards as you reach full speed. Once you’ve done this, make sure that you keep your posture upright and stay tall in order to go farther and faster.

Are you a youth interested in athletics? Or perhaps a parent with young children with a capacity and talent for running? Join us at the ActiveSG Athletics Club today by registering here.

It is the ideal platform to fulfil athletic potential through courses, clinics and championships. Beyond inculcating sporting values, the training also focuses on developing character and inculcate life values such as integrity, perseverance and teamwork. Training not just to be a better athlete, but a better individual.

So whether at an entry level or embarking on a pathway to excel in it, the ActiveSG Athletics Club is your first choice!


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