Is there a preference on how to pass the baton blindly in a 4x100m relay? At the International level, Canada, USA & Jamaica all use the push pass. France, however, uses the upsweep pass.
Once upon a time, France held the WR in the 4x100m Relay before the Americans dominated the event. That is, until Jamaica came along.
The USA 1968 relay squad of Vincent Matthews, Ron Freeman, Larry James, and Lee Evans used a blind upsweep pass for the 4×400 meters! You don’t see that anymore. Watch the first 3 minutes of this video on YouTube.
The two main criteria on deciding which technique to use is (1) successful legal exchange (Duh!) and (2) maximizing the free distance.
Upsweep, Down-sweep or Push Pass?
Here’s a quick review of the 3 common exchanges:
- Up-sweep – The incoming runner passes the baton up into the outgoing runner’s hand
- Downsweep – Receiving arm extended, but hand level is just above hip height. Hand is almost like a V, and baton is ready for landing between the thumb and first finger.
- Push Pass – the arm is extended out parallel to the ground and the hand is open with the thumb pointing down.
Here are 2 good examples of hand and arm position of the push pass:
Stay on your Side of the Lane
Here are a few key pointers on baton and lane position.
- Lead off has baton in right hand, stays on the inside at the exchange
- 2nd runner takes baton on left hand, stays on the outside
- 3rd runner takes baton on right hand. This exchange is crucial as the the outgoing runner is on the inside, and the 2nd runner is on the outside and fatiguing! With more distance to cover, you only have once chance to get it right. Being a right handed 3rd “leg”, this is why Usain Bolt prefers the 3rd leg
- Anchor takes the baton on the left hand and stays on the outside when receiving. We’ve seen Carl Lewis switch hands after receiving the baton. While this is totally unnecessary, in all fairness he has never dropped a baton.
If you want a good video of the French team relay camp training with the upsweep pass, here’s a great 10 minute video from YouTube.