Runner Windmills the Arms Forward to Straighten the Torso and Avoid Falling
Runner Windmills the Arms Forward to Straighten the Torso and Avoid Falling

Track: Windmilling Keeps Runners Upright After a Dip Finish

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

Many races are decided at the finish line, and your runners will have an advantage if they can master a dip finish—a technique in which they bend forward at the waist as they're crossing the line. This technique, if timed correctly, can advance your athlete's shoulders across the finish line ahead of an opponent.

Regardless of the technique used, dip finishes have a major shortcoming—your runners' center of gravity is placed so far forward that they run the risk of falling flat on their face.

As a result, many runners are reluctant to use—or even to practice—a dip finish. Fortunately, there is a technique that will help your dip-finishing runners maintain their balance.

The Windmill
If your runners feel they are losing their balance, instruct them to swing their arms overarm and forward, rotating them windmill fashion. This movement helps the upper body to rotate backwards, preventing a nasty face-plant.

Cross-Country Application
This same principle can be used by cross-country runners who are running downhill and feel as if they are going to tip forward. Have them windmill their arms forward until they regain their balance.

1. Dick Moss, Editor, PE, 2011.
2. Tom Ecker, Basic Track and Field Biomechanics, Tafnews Press, 1985.

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© 2011, Physical Education,

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