How to Master Swimming Starts With The Slingshot – Video

Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.

Slingshot Starts (courtesy of The Race Club, a SwimSwam Content partner)With the introduction of the back footplate on the swim starting blocks in 2008, the dynamics of the technique of starting changed. Swimmers and coaches quickly learned that during swimming starts considerably more force could be applied by the creation of a more favorable surface angle for the back foot with the plate, similar to the start of a track sprint race.

At The Race Club, we tested the speed of our Olympic swimmers to 15 meters with and without the back footplate and found that by using the back plate with a sling-shot starting technique, the swimmers’ times decreased by .1-.3 seconds.

In this Race Club Swimisode, you will see Olympian Rebecca Soni and World-class freestyler Zach Hayden demonstrate how to use the sling-shot start with the back foot plate. The head and body position, the degree of pull back and the tension on the upper arms are critical to getting the best possible start.

Getting off to a great start is an important way to begin a race. No one wants to play catch up after the breakout.

Enjoy this Swimisode and learn how to explode off of the starting blocks and get going in The Race Club way.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

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Zachary Lim
7 years ago

Haha, thanks for this video. Now I don’t play catch-up after my breakout

7 years ago

Thank you Gary.
I guess my frustration lies with not seeing much innovation happening when it comes to training or coaching from the majority of articles and videos published these days. We aren’t doing anything new.

I understand it may be a good tutorial for some, but as a young coach it frustrates me.

Never was your ability or knowledge attacked, neither were that of the world class athletes.

Gary Hall Sr.
Reply to  John
7 years ago

We will have three more Swimisodes coming out on the starts. Who knows, you may find something new to learn just yet. Stay tuned.

Gary Hall Sr.
7 years ago

The start has evolved through the years. To this day, there is still not one way of doing it right, as different techniques work better for different athletes, depending on their skills. The back foot plate clearly has changed the dynamics of the start. I do not claim to be providing any new information about the start, but through our Race Club series on starts, I hope to point out some of the nuances of the start that make it work better for nearly everyone. We had the honor of working with Roland Schoeman, one of the best starters in history, and appreciate him sharing his knowledge, although we are unable to show his videos (he offers a great clinic… Read more »

Golden B
Reply to  Gary Hall Sr.
7 years ago

My daughter loves your videos, and have become better because of them. All coaches are not equal. All areas of the United States don’t have high quality instruction. Not all coaches truly have solid focus on each element of swimming. The great news is, with today’s technology we can learn from people like you.

When my daughter was 12, she had a goal to break 30 seconds in the 50 free. She was flirting in the low 30’s. She watched your video on flip turns, practiced the drills daily for ONE WEEK, implemented that improved turn the following weekend and went 29.72. There was no doubt at all the turn was the difference. YOUR video made her faster in one… Read more »

7 years ago

As a self-coached Master’s swimmer, I really appreciate this tutorial from an extremely reliable source. I haven’t had the opportunity to use these blocks yet, but I’m sure they’ll start popping up at more meets. It’s good to have the knowledge before you get there.

7 years ago

No one said he doesn’t know what he is talking about nor about the effectiveness of it.

It’s nothing new, just rehashed.

And I’m not sure why I’m even replying to someone that defends USRPT…lol later

Reply to  John
7 years ago

You’re right about the USRPT rehash. The old videos of George Haines training Mark Spitz and company at Santa Clara High School that were posted this past year on Swimswam pretty much show that he was doing back in the 1960’s what we now call USRPT. You’re also right about the slingshot being around for ever.

As for Dr. Hall, well, he was the 1960’s/early 1979’s version of Ryan Lochte to Spitz. Dr. Hall was one of the greatest all around swimmers of his era (fly, back, IM, middle distance free), who arguably would have been heralded as the greatest all around swimmer of his time if it weren’t for Spitz. Plus, he also did a high 26 in… Read more »

7 years ago

Almost reminds me of USRPT… Implementing what everyone has been doing for years, and then coining a new term and claiming it’s new and revolutionary.

Is there an e-book we can buy on this? Lol

Reply to  John
7 years ago

Great comment John. With no history, background or experience in the sport, Gary Hall Sr. should just keep his mouth shut…..he has no idea what he’s talking about.

Jack Baker
Reply to  John
7 years ago

Gary Hall Sr. has excellent and useful resources for swimmers to utilize. There are too many occasions where most age group coaches don’t work on starts – and kids are left to imagine how they should be done.

Considering that 60% of a SC race time is influenced by the start, underwaters, and turns, who cares what it’s called as long as it helps a swimmer.

Dr. Hall is also great at discussing the relationships between power and drag – and how – as you grow older – drag becomes a detriment to the swim stroke.

Also – why criticize USRPT John? Maybe you should research it more – maybe you should implement it – maybe you will come around… Read more »

Reply to  John
7 years ago

I’m not quite sure what basis your comment is made on. He’s not saying it’s new, or that he made it up. He’s simply trying to share his knowledge (and get some exposure for the Race Club).

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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