Track: How to Predict Your Relay Teams' Potential

Track: How to Predict Your Relay Teams' Potential

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Would you like to estimate how your relay teams stack up against future competition? Or find out how close to their potential they are running? If so, here's how to estimate your 100m and 400m relay teams' potential best times.

Estimating a 4 x 400 M Relay Time
A top-notch 400m runner runs about .7 seconds faster in a relay than in an open race.

That's because the effort required to overcome inertia makes a stationary start slower than a running start. Also, about .1 second of this difference is because the extended arms of the passer and receiver cover part of the distance of every relay leg.

So, to estimate the potential time of your 4 x 400m relay team, add the four runners' best 400m time from a block start. Then, subtract 2.1 seconds to calculate the team's potential best time (2.1 equals .7 seconds x 3, since the lead runner does not receive a flying start).

4 x 400m potential = Times Totaled - 2.1 seconds

For example, Mary's best open 400m time is 58.8, Jane's is 62.2, Denise's is 64.0 and Martha's is 60.1. Their total time is 4:05 .1. Subtract 2.1 and you'll get a best potential time of 4:03.0 if handoffs are good and everyone runs their best.

Estimating a 4 X 100 M Relay Time
The average time for 100m runners may be as much as 1.0 second faster in relays than from the blocks, even though they must negotiate turns which cause a reduction speed.

So, to determine the potential time for the 4 x 100m relay team, add the four personal best 100m times from a stationary start, then subtract 3.0 seconds (it's only 3 seconds, because the lead runner starts from the blocks).

4 x 100m potential = Times Totaled - 3.0 seconds

For example, if you have four athletes whose times add up to 44.0 seconds, their potential time for the relay is 44.0 -- 3.0 , or 41.0 seconds.

How to Use These Estimates
These estimates will give your runners tough but attainable goals for their competitive season. And they will provide you with hard information about the amount of time your teams are losing due to bad handoffs.

Reference: Bert Nelson, Dave Johnson, Track And Field News' Little Gold Book, Tafnews Press, 1984.

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