The best analogy for buying starting blocks is camping.
You want to purchase the highest quality boots and tent money can buy. For everything else, you can go second rate, used, or thrift shops.
For example, if you don’t have the best sleeping bag, or the best water bottle, who cares? As long as it works, right?
However, you need the be assured you have good boots that won’t fall apart or give you blisters. As well, you don’t want a leak in your tent, or fall apart in high winds. Those are two items you don’t take chances.
It’s the same with starting blocks. You buy this once, and it lasts a lifetime, as long as they don’t rust which is why they are made with aluminum.
You want to look for stability, weight, and one that won’t slip on days when you have no one “holding” the blocks for you.
When you test the blocks with the “on your marks” and “set” position, make sure the blocks don’t rock. Balance is key.
You also don’t want to get the high blocks, as discussed in a previous article Track and Field Starting Blocks Evolution. For those who like the MOYE starting blocks, read The MOYE Victory Starting Blocks- Is Quicker Better ?
Another helpful tip is from Coach Ken Grace from my USATF Level 1 school. He suggests to paint the BOTTOM of the blocks an ugly orange or brown paint, which is invisible when right side up. However, when someone “misplaces” your blocks into the trunk of their car, you can simply say, “Hey, those are my blocks!”
Here are 3 popular starting blocks. I personally own the National starting blocks.
Gill National Starting Block
All the features of the world’s finest starting blocks. Thick aircraft aluminum with extra wide cast aluminum pedals with adjustable angle. 1/2" needle spikes (synthetic tracks) and anchor pins (cinder tracks) included.
Gill Collegiate Starting Block
Designed for high level competition. Constructed of aircraft aluminum. Extra wide pedals with four angle adjustments. 1/2" needle spikes (synthetic tracks) and anchor pins (cinder tracks) included.
Gill All Surface Starting Blocks
Designed for sure starts on any type of surface. Wide pedals allow for a wider stance if preferred. One piece sixteen gauge steel with no loose parts to misplace. Rubbed faced pedals. Anchor pins for cinder tracks.