False Starts

JAVMAN83

Well-known member

CC Track Fan

Well-known member
It stinks for him because he reacted 0.001 seconds too fast. Need to be some discretion that if it is that close they will let the runner be part of the re-start of race.
 

Newton's Third

Active member
My rudimentary understanding is that it was determined that a human could not react to the gun faster than 0.10-0.15 seconds. Taking a margin of error into account, they instituted the rule of any reaction to the gun faster than the low end of 0.10 would be considered guessing the start rather than reacting to gun.

If these numbers concerning reaction potential are correct and the technology is adequate and reliable, I see no issue with this rule. Without such a rule, it seems a competition with such a fine line between competitors could require guessing as much as other race components.

I am not a fan of getting an over-reliance on technology involved in track and field, and am on the fence concerning it's use. But I do understand the spirit of the rule if the reaction numbers used are fact and not loose guides.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
My rudimentary understanding is that it was determined that a human could not react to the gun faster than 0.10-0.15 seconds. Taking a margin of error into account, they instituted the rule of any reaction to the gun faster than the low end of 0.10 would be considered guessing the start rather than reacting to gun.

If these numbers concerning reaction potential are correct and the technology is adequate and reliable, I see no issue with this rule. Without such a rule, it seems a competition with such a fine line between competitors could require guessing as much as other race components.

I am not a fan of getting an over-reliance on technology involved in track and field, and am on the fence concerning it's use. But I do understand the spirit of the rule if the reaction numbers used are fact and not loose guides.
I agree with your view. The old rule when I matriculated was a 0.120 second threshold. That was lowered to 0.100 second after my time. The thing that I think is tripping up everyone is the sensitivity of the force required on the each block pad needed to trigger the alarm. I don't know the specific amount of force required, but I would be in favor of increasing it to where the sprinters couldn't generate that force just by a small twitch in their leg muscles due to anxiety in the blocks. I hope the powers that be revisit this issue.
 

TCSoup

Well-known member
Looking at it as close as the programs replays showed it looked like his right foot really never left the block, but it did move ever so slightly up and down right before the gun went off. It certainly didn't look like he was moving forward even a centimeter.
 

CC Track Fan

Well-known member
With this new technology to false start people they need to go back and only DQ on 2nd false start. Could even do it based on reaction time. So if under .050 runner or before the gun it is a DQ but it between .051 and .100 it is a false start warning.
 

stew

Member
On the subject of the technology. Deciding a race to the 1/1000th of a second and because it is FAT it is suppose to be indisputable. The FAT official is still making a judgment and that at the distance of 1/1000th of a second.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
Ato Boldon on tonight's live coverage was just talking about the 3 false starts yesterday including Devon Allen's. Watched it multiple times and he couldn't detect anyone flinching early. He also researched the whole 0.100 second logic and found it was based on a 60-year old study out of Europe somewhere. I suggest that it's time to do a real study with REAL athletes with high-speed cameras here in the 2020s. I think we'll find that some athletes CAN start within 0.100 seconds of the sound of the gun.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
I did a quick calculation regarding the speed of sound and our (the T&F community) little problem with regard to the arbitary 0.100 second rule.

In relatively dry, sea-level air @ 25 degrees C (77 F), sound propagates at the rate of 340.29 meters/sec. So, let us say there is an average 5 ft (~1.5m) distance between the ears of the athlete in the starting blocks and the electronic horn directly behind the athlete in the blocks. Then it will take 0.00441 seconds for the sound to reach the athlete's ears over a 1.5 meter distance. That allows for an actual reaction time of 0.09559 seconds for the athlete's nervous brain and nervous system to do its thing before the threshold of 0.100 seconds to be reached. According to the following chart ( https://humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime ), 0.100 seconds appears to be a reasonable very low threshold decision point. However, that doesn't take into consideration of what is going on in the starting blocks. The athlete's anxiety in the "set" position prior to the sound of the gun and how that affects the forces exerted by the athlete upon the force-sensitive blocks are where I think the rules are getting tripped up. As I stated earlier, I don't know the threshold of the actual force required against a block pad to cause the block sensor to send the requisite signal to the timing equipment, but I suspect the threshold is too low given the huge forces that some of the athletes can generate...even when "twitching". Either this force threshold needs to be increased, or starter needs to be given back the discretion as to what is a false start based on ALL inputs.

Anyway, this issue is in dire need of a comprehensive technical study based on today's high performance athletes...not one from 60 years ago that didn't take into account block pad force application.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
Follow-up:

I found this link ( https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0026141 ) regarding an in-depth study into the issue of a more recent time period. In it, there is a reference to a 25 kgF as the threshold force required for triggering of a false start. That is equivalent to force of 55 lbs of force applied to the block pad. I would suggest that that is NOT ENOUGH given the strength of sprinters' leg muscles, even when twitching. Not enough for today's hi-performance athletes.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
Here's an interesting commentary by Noah Lyles regarding the design of the blocks being used. They are not your grandpas blocks.

 

TCSoup

Well-known member
Years ago when the starter stood down the track with a starter pistol my Dad who Coached over 40+ Years of track would instructed the 100 yard and 110 yard hurdle guys to watch the top of the gun . When you seen the smoke ,go. His theory was you would see the smoke before you heard the sound of the blank going off. True or not it seemed to work.
 

SOTT

Active member
A few people have compared all reaction times in these championships so far with those of recent Olympic and world championships and there seems to be a statistical anomaly in terms of how much faster everyone is "reacting", which leads one to believe there might be some sensitivity issue or calibration issue in play.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
Years ago when the starter stood down the track with a starter pistol my Dad who Coached over 40+ Years of track would instructed the 100 yard and 110 yard hurdle guys to watch the top of the gun . When you seen the smoke ,go. His theory was you would see the smoke before you heard the sound of the blank going off. True or not it seemed to work.
Back in that era (which I am old enough to have been a part of), I never heard someone tell another person to start the stopwatch at the sound of the gun. Anyone with any brains at all went by the smoke or flash, depending on the gun being used.
 

nooks

Well-known member
Having competed in both track and swimming, my take on the whole false start thing is about as "old school" as you can get. (And where I think they should have left it).
"Gaming" the start is simply part of being a competent competitor. If you can anticipate the "gun" a little better than the others..."Bully" for you.
The price you pay for getting caught (and by caught...I mean 2 of the 3 officials agree you left early...No electronics), is if you do it a 2nd time you are DQ'd. You know it. You know they'll be watching...and so does everyone else.
The beauty of that is you will have now placed yourself at a competitive disadvantage the 2nd time around...and that is exactly how it should be...
If your reaction time "guess" gets you a better race time than the others, so be it. That's part of racing.
 

JAVMAN83

Well-known member
Having competed in both track and swimming, my take on the whole false start thing is about as "old school" as you can get. (And where I think they should have left it).
"Gaming" the start is simply part of being a competent competitor. If you can anticipate the "gun" a little better than the others..."Bully" for you.
The price you pay for getting caught (and by caught...I mean 2 of the 3 officials agree you left early...No electronics), is if you do it a 2nd time you are DQ'd. You know it. You know they'll be watching...and so does everyone else.
The beauty of that is you will have now placed yourself at a competitive disadvantage the 2nd time around...and that is exactly how it should be...
If your reaction time "guess" gets you a better race time than the others, so be it. That's part of racing.
That's the way it was prior to the current system. First false start charged to the field. After that, you're all "under the gun", pun intended :)
 

psycho_dad

Well-known member
I don't understand why guessing at the gun and getting it right is a disqualification. If the start is after the gun, then I don't care if it was .00001. Still a good start if I had any say. They don't adjust the time at the end based on reaction time. 9 people on the track are going to probably react in 9 different times. You can still guess and have a slower reaction time than someone who didn't. I guess, I'll start my approach for the LJ now because I think the wind is to my advantage and not my disadvantage.... There are a lot of instances where you go with a "guess". Stupid rule that should never have been used. Very simple. Before the gun. DQ. At exact same time as gun or after. GOOD Start. Very simple.
 

Newton's Third

Active member
I don't understand why guessing at the gun and getting it right is a disqualification. If the start is after the gun, then I don't care if it was .00001. Still a good start if I had any say. They don't adjust the time at the end based on reaction time. 9 people on the track are going to probably react in 9 different times. You can still guess and have a slower reaction time than someone who didn't. I guess, I'll start my approach for the LJ now because I think the wind is to my advantage and not my disadvantage.... There are a lot of instances where you go with a "guess". Stupid rule that should never have been used. Very simple. Before the gun. DQ. At exact same time as gun or after. GOOD Start. Very simple.
I disagree. Why not just play rock-paper-scissors instead? The LJ has time limits for that very reason. The technology is supposed to keep someone from moving before the gun under the premise that it is impossible to come off the blocks that fast without moving early. It is an attempt to catch an early start without depending totally upon the eyes of the starter.

The things shared seem to show that this technology is flawed and with that in mind I am right there with you. If the technology is not beyond reproach, it is pointless and potentially harmful. I also read in the rules that the reaction times are supposed to "aid" the starter, not be an end-all decision maker.
 

nooks

Well-known member
I disagree. Why not just play rock-paper-scissors instead? The LJ has time limits for that very reason. The technology is supposed to keep someone from moving before the gun under the premise that it is impossible to come off the blocks that fast without moving early. It is an attempt to catch an early start without depending totally upon the eyes of the starter.

The things shared seem to show that this technology is flawed and with that in mind I am right there with you. If the technology is not beyond reproach, it is pointless and potentially harmful. I also read in the rules that the reaction times are supposed to "aid" the starter, not be an end-all decision maker.
Why don't we just put everybody in Horse race style starting barriers. You leave too early, you smash your face into the gate that hasn't opened yet. I'll bet you won't try that again afterward...:) Seems fair to me and takes all of the failed electronic & human bias out of it.
 
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