Sep 2, 2011; Daegu, SOUTH KOREA; Bershawn Jackson takes the handoff from Greg Nixon on the second leg of the United States 4 x 400m relay that won in 2:59.31 during the evening session of Day 7 in the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics at Daegu Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Study Shows Slowest Runners Make Greatest Gains In Relay Races


New research from Michigan State University supports the Kohler motivation effect, which shows how less accomplished athletes have better performances in a group as opposed to by themselves.

Studies on high school and college athletes participating in the relays of swimming and track have shown that the athletes who don’t perform as well in individual events are often the ones who have the greatest gains. On the other hand, the performances of better individual athletes often were slower in relays.

Studies also showed that females tended to perform better on a team, while males had better performances when being compared to other athletes.

Why is this the case? Purely based on speculation on my part, the slowest runners on relays are typically chosen for the final spots over other deserving members. As a result they want to prove their worthiness to coaches who entrusted the baton to them.

Faster runners, on the other hand, would appear to be focus on their own individual events. The best at any sport all have egos and wish to see themselves and themselves only on the top of the medal stand. Sharing that glory is of lesser importance. Top sprinters at global track and field championships such as Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross (pictured) also may suffer from fatigue that prevent them from running their best having taken part in several individual races by the conclusion of the meet.

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