A seamless handoff can win the race, and, conversely, the slightest fumble can cost your team a place on the podium. Simply put, relay races are won or lost during the passing of the baton.
Here, former University of Tennessee T&F coach Norbert Elliott offers instruction for executing the all-important baton exchange.
For the Incoming Runner
- Run through entire exchange zone at max speed; don't slow down in anticipation of handing off baton
Elliott: "You need to run the zone and not the man."
- Pass baton to outgoing runner at your max speed
Elliott: "The baton exchange is easier when your speeds match."
- Use verbal command like "reach" or "stick" to perfectly sync arm movements with outgoing runner
Elliott: "Using a verbal command can counter your tendency to slow down."
- Pass baton in a pushing motion
Elliott: "Since it's a blind exchange for the outgoing runner, you are responsible for placing the baton in his or her hand."
For the Outgoing Runner
- Mark two foot-long areas in your exchange zone with tape. Stand at second tape, waiting for incoming runner. Begin sprinting when he or she hits first tape
Elliott: "Make sure your marks enable both of you to be at maximum speed when the exchange occurs."
- Accelerate off mark as hard as possible
Elliott: "You want to maximize the exchange zone. To do that, lead the incoming runner as much as possible."
- Upon receiving verbal command, angle arm just outside shoulder with a slight bend in elbow. Keep thumb deposed, palm flat and fingers together
Elliott: "Don't open your fingers. That provides a sloppy target and increases your tendency to grab."
- Keep target visible to incoming runner
Elliott: "Keep your arm and hand up, right between the chest and chin, so the incoming runner can't miss it."
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock