National Association Changes Track Rules

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John L. Braese

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – The double shot of a starter’s pistol is the worst sound a track athlete can hear while coming out of the blocks. Someone, hopefully not them, has false started. Now, the national organization governing high school sports has issued new rules outlining exactly what is a “false start”.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has clarified a false start occurs only when “a runner leaves their mark with a hand or foot after the ‘set’ command but before the starting device is fired”.

“The rules committee felt that these changes offer a clearer definition of a false start and will help add consistency in how false starts are officiated,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee.

Fidgeting, moving the fingers or tensing up will no longer be a false start under the new definition. Starters will have the authority to stand the field up out of the blocks and restart the process.

The organization also stated those in discus, shot or javelin events will be able to wear tape on fingers but the fingers will not be allowed to be taped together.

The third major change will allow states, including Oregon and the Oregon Schools Activities Association, to allow student athletes to compete in six events at a meet. Currently, four events is the maximum. The OSAA has not issued an opinion and local meet coordinators will still be able to set a maximum of events for each student athlete attending.

EOS views the changes with the following ideas to consider.

Umatilla holds a meet with 15 teams attending totaling 100 participants. If each student athlete is allowed six events, the meet needs to start pretty early in the day as 600 jumps, prelims and throws will need to take place.

As for the clarification on false starts, good, experienced start personnel are worth their weight in gold. New rules do not fix inexperience.

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