Match Sprinting 101
Written by Lee Evans.
Image by Matthew Jones.
On 250m tracks, a match sprint race is three laps from the start line to the finish line.
Before the race you will draw numbers, either 1 or 2. Rider 1 starts on the inside and rider 2 on the outside.
Rider 1 will usually be invited onto the track first. That rider may start anywhere on the start line. However, you usually start right at the top (leaving the least amount of space for your opponent) because if you go to the bottom, your opponent may take the top then use the height to take off from the start.
Staring at your opponent on the start line is a form of intimidation and can also negate intimidation towards you. If you are a stronger rider than your opponent, you are showing them that you mean business and that you will not tolerate any games or become distracted. If you are the weaker rider, this communicates to them that you are not afraid of them. Not looking at your opponent doing this to you, or looking away, can damage your confidence and increase theirs.
Rider 1 must lead the race at no less than a walking pace for the first half lap, to the pursuit line. Rider 2 may take the front if he or she wishes.
It is open for both riders to sprint at any point, including off the start line. There is no speed limit. Just because most races are slow and tactical from the start does not mean you need to be. If your opponent makes an error, it is open for you to punish them regardless of where you are.
You must always know where your opponent is and always keep an eye on them. Do not move your head towards your opponent then away in a regular pattern or rhythm.
If you are leading you should either be at the bottom or the top of the track. Look to where your opponent may pass you. At the bottom look to your right. At the top look to your left. If you are more experienced and looking to force your opponent into a move and sitting in the middle, by and large, you will want to look underneath to your left. You are more likely to be jumped by surprise underneath than over the top.