Everyone is different, but some commonalities arise when it comes to right-handed or left-handed swimmers.

The majority of us have one side of our body stronger than the other and this also shows during swimming specific movements and exercises, especially when deciding which foot to put forward during a track start.

There is no real bulletproof guide for knowing which foot to place forward during a track start, however, there are a few things you can try to figure it out.

One could assume that if one is right-handed (right arm dominant), the right foot should go to the front of the block as a dominant foot, however, foot dominance is sometimes something else than upper limb dominance, so it is not as clear cut as this study indicates.

You could very well be right-handed, but have a left foot as dominant and to top it off knowing which foot is dominant might also not indicate which foot should go to the front of the block.

Left foot forward or right foot forward
Which foot to put forward on the block

Below are a few examples of how you can determine which foot to place first on the starting block during a track start.

1) Hockey analogy - if for example, you are right-handed, but play hockey with your right hand on the lower part of the hockey stick (usually, right-handed people have their left hand on the lower part of the hockey stick), your left foot will more than likely go in front of the block and right foot to the back.

2) Snowboarding analogy - same goes for snowboarding. If you snowboard and are a goofy style while being a right-handed person (right foot forward). During the track start your right foot goes in the back part of the block. If you are a snowboarder with a regular stance, it could be the same, but also there is a chance it is the opposite (right foot forward and left foot back on the block).

3) High jump analogy - if you have ever high jumped, you always jump from the outside (take off) foot, so if you approach the bar from the left, you will jump from your right foot, etc.

Which strangely enough might not be your dominant foot.

So in a track start, if you high jump from your right foot, you could try your right foot in front of the block and vice versa if you high jump from your left foot.

Track start starting block
Starting block made for track starts

4) Sliding analogy - If none of the above analogies work for you, why not put some slippery socks on your feet, take a short run and slide on your feet in a staggered position with one foot forward and one foot backward (you can do this on ice in the winter as well).

Then do it the other way and if one way feels more comfortable with balance than the other, place your feet in the staggered position of the LESS comfortable position.

So for example, in my case if I slide, I have my right foot forward and left one back, so during the track start I’d put the left foot in front and right one back on the block.

5) Push analogy - you can try the famous method where you close your eyes and have someone push you in the back.

Whatever foot you put forward to catch yourself from falling is the dominant foot you put in the front of the block when you practice your track start.

In reality, there is probably not one recipe that fits everyone, so if you don’t fit any of those supporting analogies above, just try it both ways and see which one feels more natural.

Here is another discussion on the foot dominance topic.

If you still can’t get the hang of it, perhaps it is time to try the grab start.

Swim Advice Topics

Which Foot To Put Forward During The Track Start? (Make Your Track Start A Success) is part of the following categories: Starts and Turns, Starts - Block start and is meant for swimmers in: Level 3 - Intermediate

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Comments (2)

Anonymous said...
Your article here misses a great deal on how to figure this out. There are several methods and human physiology behind which foot forward is best. Why is it that most running coaches understand this, but most swim coaches do not? A track start in swimming is very similar to a track start in running. Telling someone to lead with their dominate foot is completely off base. Most people in the world are right foot dominate. Why then would 90% of tack athletes put their left foot forward on a start? Seriously, do a quick video search of olympic sprinters and see how many lead with their left.
Libor J said...
@anonymous: thanks for your comment. You raise a good point in regards the track start foot dominance. Would you mind explaining more about the methods of human physiology you refer to?

Check out this study - https://repository.uwa.edu.au/R/-?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=10366&local_base=GEN01-INS01

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