Track: Coaching Cue to Prevent Dropped Relay Batons

Track: Coaching Cue to Prevent Dropped Relay Batons

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

If you watched the 2008 Summer Olympics, you saw the many dropped batons in the sprint relays. How could this happen at the Olympic level? Well, for the same reason it happens at school meets.

Reasons for Missed Exchanges
There are a number of things that can go wrong during a relay exchange. The incoming runner can miss the outgoing runner's hand. The outgoing runner can mis-time the start mark, start too fast or slow, fail to keep a steady receiving hand, or present the receiving hand too soon or too late. While any of these factors can result in the baton not being passed within the exchange zone, the worst thing that can happen is a dropped baton.

Reasons for a Dropped Baton
One of the primary reasons for a dropped baton lies with the incoming runner. That is, the incoming runner lets go of the baton as soon as she feels the baton make contact with the outgoing runner's hand - before the outgoing runner has a firm grip.

Preventing Dropped Batons
You can prevent this problem by instructing incoming runners not to let go of the baton as soon as they feel it contact their partner's hand. They must maintain a light grip on the baton until they feel their teammate actually pull it away from them. That way, they know the stick is under their teammate's control.

Reference: Glenroy Gilbert, Canadian National Relay Team Coach, CBC television coverage, 8/22/08.

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