Anatomy of a Baton Exchange

Tomas Huerta, Sports Reporter

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Prowl photos by staff

A baton pass may look easy.

Run as fast you can and pass it off to the next guy…or gal.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not that simple.

A baton pass requires a proper technique so there is no time loss between exchanges. This gives your team – our team – a higher chance of winning the overall race.

In international track competitions, there are three common types of exchanges: the upsweep, the downsweep and the push pass. All three are outlined at speedendurance.com

The upsweep is explained as the faster or incoming runner passing the relay baton to the outgoing sprinter. By contrast, the downsweep places more responsibility on the runner. Yet, of the three the push pass is what you see every four years in the Olympic finals. The receiving runner’s hand has the thumb pointed down to take the baton above the waist.

There is a sequence to help ensure success. Then, there is the switching of hands.

“The right, left, right, left method is very common on a relay team,” said Weston Ranch Track and Field Head Coach April West. “But I told our team the best way to receive a baton is by using their dominant hand while trying to stay in their lane and achieve the exchange before exiting the exchange zone.”

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