Kaufmann, K., & Street, G. (2011). Influence of block angle on take-off velocity in swim starts. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 2319.

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This study assessed the influence of block angle on take-off velocity in swim starts It determined the start block angle at which a swimmer can generate the greatest take-off velocity. Experienced male swimmers (N = 3) completed three swim starts of their preference (grab or track) on a block set at angles of 0, 10, and 20 degrees from the horizontal. Ss were given as many trials as needed to gain familiarity with the different block angles. Measurements were taken using an AMTI force platform secured to the start block.

Average take -off velocities at 0, 10, and 20 degrees were ~3.6, ~3.3, and ~3.1 m/s, respectively. Take-off velocity decreased for two of the three subjects as the block angle increased. The third subject had the slowest take-off velocity at zero degrees.

Implication. This is an "exploratory" study because of the small number of subjects. Start block angle may have an effect on take-off velocity. Listening to advertising claims or assuming that steeper-angle start surfaces will improve swimming performances should be handled carefully until well established valid research is completed on the matter. It is likely that the older the swimmer, there will be a preference for continuing the use of a start form that has been used for most of the swimmer's career.

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