This weekend saw the European Athletics Championship on BBC, one of the few sports they still cover. In the shortest of the events, the 60 meter sprint, lasting all of 6.53 seconds, Dwain Chambers came second, one hundredth of a second behind the winner. Given the trials and tribulations of his career, this was a considerable performance.
How did he manage it? He had a great start.
In any sprint event, more than any other sport, if you don’t start well chances of a win are remote. It’s a physical and an emotional thing. The mental preparation is intense, focus must be 110%, heightened but controlled anticipation, and an inner confidence that this is your moment, however good the competition. Then you have to react to the gun!
While a pitch does not call for split second reactions, it does call for a great start. We know that people will make instinctive judgement calls within seconds so your team is being judged as they sit down. Your first words, and actions, will set the mood and tone for all that follows.
By starting with energy, surprise and infectious enthusiasm you will create a sense of eager expectation among your audience. As importantly, you will give yourself an emotional lift and a boost of confidence that will help carry you through to win, perhaps with the grace and style of legendary sprinter Wilmer Rudolph. She practised her starts.