When I wrote The Rocket Sprint Start, the most popular question I received had to be the “Jamaican” toe-scrape technique on the second step.
I’ll explain with some “proof” from the 2 videos below.
Thanks to Stu McMillan and Dan Pfaff’s YouTube channel, we have a huge collection of high def videos to analyze.
Here is Dwain Chamber’s in slo-mo demonstrating two starts.
With toe-scrape technique (click here for the video on YouTube):
Without the toe scrape (click here for the video on YouTube):
Note where he lands on his 2nd and 3rd step.
His 3rd step clears the 3-meter hashmark on the toe-scrape, whereas his arch or heel land on the hashmark on the non-toe-scrape.
8 inches (20 cm) may not mean a lot to you, but like baseball, this is a game of inches. It’s just measured in seconds! (or hundredths of a second, to be precise!)
It’s clear the start sets you up for the later stages of the race. A bad start is like a domino effect or compound interest… the errors gets compounded, unless you are extremely superior or talented at the middle or later stages .
One thing is clear from watching the above videos, and that is Dwain’s immense power production. He has run the 2nd best 60m of all time with a 6.42 from 2009 and you can watch some crazy box jumps here.
Dan Pfaff mentions (in this YouTube video) how Dwain’s immense power production becomes “his enemy”. He can run with Bolt up to 60 meters, but when he starts to press to stay with the leaders (maintenance phase), he ends up pushing too long on the ground which means a longer ground contact time. And that is bad.
I covered ground contact in the 400 meters where we saw a huge increase in ground contact as fatigue increases and speed decreases.