When it comes to false starts, usually it’s the athlete’s fault for the false start.
But sometimes the fault can be blamed on the starter who holds the athletes longer than 1.89 seconds in the SET position. That 1.89 number is my number… you won’t find that number in any rulebook, but it’s based on my personal experience.
However, any “hold” longer than 2 seconds in the SET position is too long in my opinion, and if that is the case, the starter should simply say “stand up” and restart the race. All the runners have to be motionless, and any twitch that triggers the starting blocks will result in a false start after the SET command.
IAAF Diamond League Stockholm 2014 – 100m Hurdles Women
Take a look at the Women’s 100m hurdles from the Stockholm Diamond League video on YouTube.
Watch the first start where the runners are held for well over 2 seconds, but nobody gets charged for a false start.
In the second start, we see Sally Pearson get DQ’ed. It was a long SET, but not as long as the first start.
Finally, on the 3rd start, we get a clean start.
My only advice is to PRACTICE your starts with various starters, and try different SET times, from superfast NCAA Starters (i.e. SET-bang) to slow delayed Starters like the one we saw at the Stockholm Diamond League meet.
The purpose of a starter is to ensure everyone gets a fair and clean start. It really sucks to train 48 weeks a year, 5 days a week only to be sent home after traveling thousands of miles to get there! I’ve played baseball and football in my youth, and we do get bad calls from officials, referees and umpires. It’s part of the game and we just have to deal with it.