Here is a quick recap of what we can learn from the USA Men’s 4×200 where they got disqualified on the 3rd exchange.
- Pass with Right, Receive with Left. The incoming runner did not swap hands, and was trying to pass with the left-hand to left-hand.
- Don’t Leave too soon. The incoming runner is tiring from running a near all-out 210m. Hand-eye co-ordinations is not 100% at this stage. You can see in the video the exchange takes place very late in the 20 meter zone.
- Stay in your Lane. You have to divide the 1 meter wide track into two imaginary lanes, and the incoming runner stays on the inside with the baton on the left hand, giving it to the outgoing runner on the outer lane to his left hand. With the wrong hands passing, you may see a collision of body parts.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. If you are late in the zone, you can’t afford to miss the handoff. With an early handoff, you can afford to make mistakes, but not if you leave too soon.
Check out the YouTube video, especially at the 3:10 segment where they show slo-mo of the critical exchange.
Although most teams opted to use the blind push-pass, here are 13 lucky guidelines to keep in mind for the 4x200m and 4x400m Visual Exchange. In the 4x200m, if you use a 3-turn stagger, then the last exchange will be the same as a 4×400 2nd and 3rd exchanges. For more information, see 4×100 Relay Baton Passing – Upsweep, Downsweep or Push Pass.
4x200m and 4x400m Visual Exchange Relay Tips
1) Pass with Right, Receive with Left. Pass with your right hand, and receive with the left. Incoming runner gets the inside part of the lane, outgoing runner gets the outside. (This is opposite of a 4x100m 2nd exchange where you only get one chance to pass the baton, with the incoming on the outside, he has to run further)
2) Change Hands Immediately. Once you get the baton, you change hands immediately. You’ll notice Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis and many others do this when anchoring a 4x100m relay when it doesn’t matter. I guess Carl is more comfortable using his right hand. (please, no jokes here)
3) Share the Stick. Incoming runner gets the lower half, the outgoing runner gets the upper half.
4) YELL first, THEN reach. Do not give the verbal command of “STICK” or “UP” and reach at the same instant. SHOUT the command, keep running, and wait for the outgoing runner’s arm to extend, then reach and place the baton in the open hand.
5) Hold the Stick High at face level (see photo)
6) Outgoing Runner Grabs the Baton. When you feel the baton, grasp firmly, THEN use your arms to run.
7) Don’t Let Go. Yet. Incoming runner does not let go until baton is firm in other hand.
8) Face the inside. For the 2nd and 3rd exchanges, when lining up on the track, ALWAYS face inside the track.
9) Incoming Runner Must “Attack the Zone”. Do not slow down or even relax until the baton is passed. Keep good running form.
10) Stay in your Lane. After the exchange, stay in your lane. Do not jump out to the left or right as there are runners behind you. Always look back before leaving the track preferably to the infield.
11) Hammer time. I prefer to grasp the baton firmly like a hammer. That may lead to tightness, but it’s better than having it knocked out of your hand which I’ve seen from experience. Some runners, like Michael Johnson or Jeremy Wariner holds the baton like a pencil which I’m not a fan of (see image)
12) You be the Judge. Don’t take off too soon or too fast. Outgoing runner must judge the speed AND fatigue of the incoming runner. 75% speed is safe enough with visual exchanges, though with the blind push-pass, you can go much faster or equal to the speed of the incoming runner.
13) Give the baton back to the Official when done. Slamming it to the ground or tossing it in the air is subject to an automatic DQ.
14) If you are not in first place, watch the lane in front of you. Katie Mackey of the USA and Zoe Buckman of Australia collided during the first exchange of the women’s 4x1500m IAAF World Relay.