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On Not Trusting Hand Timing

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  • On Not Trusting Hand Timing

    I was looking at the 1967 NCAA 100-yard results today, for which Bulova times exist even though the meet was officially done with hand timing.

    In the heats Charlie Greene ran a 9.23 that was ratified as a WR at 9.1 (9.1, 9.1, 9.1). In the final he ran a faster 9.21 that wasnt' ratified as a WR. Why not? Because the hand timing was only 9.2 (9.1, 9.2, 9.3).

  • #2
    Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

    The "accuracy" of handtiming was quickly unmasked when good electrical timing began to get noticed/used, from phototimers or wherever.

    I specifically recall Frank Budd's "9.2" ( 9.36e I think ) from 1961 AAU and then Hayes' "9.1" from 1963 AAU... do not recall his e time but it was appreciably slower.

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    • #3
      Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

      'Interesting, though, that in the final his automatic time and his hand time were nearly identical. We've been taught to expect that hand timing always produces faster times, but not in this case.'

      Actually, it is easy to get very accurate hand-timing. The trick, which I believe I read in TandFnews about 30 years ago, is not to anticipate the finish, which is what most people do. Concentrate on watching the runner finish and than stop the watch. Similar to when you start the watch on reacting to the starting pistol.

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      • #4
        Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

        Yes, easy (well, "easy" with a little practice) to do. Problem is that Britain seemed to be about the only country that ever really tought its timers to elminate reaction time. Think back to when there used to be timers in the stands in the U.S. and how you'd even see people hold their watch out in front of them and with an exaggerated sweep of the hand punch the stem exactly as the runner hit the line.

        I think this has been mentioned on here before, but any big meet with lots of sprint heats (NCAA, USATF, OT, OG) is a great time to not only work on your timing, but also to play great game: try and match the readout on the auto-clock at the finish. After a race or two to get grooved in,you'd be amazed at how good you can get. When we have games like this, say with a dozen players, never fails that somebody hits every race right on (usually Bob Hersh, who is rarely more than 0.01 or 0.02 away).

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        • #5
          Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

          I was a volunteer timer at a big kid's swim meet last month, serving purely as a backup to the electric timing system in case it malfunctioned ( it never did). There was a back up timer for each lane. My times were consistently about .15 to .25 faster than the electric clock. On more than a few occasions I messed up my timing,, and not wanting to look bad, in those instances, I peeked at the electric time on the scoreboard, subtract .2 from theri time, and wrote it down !

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          • #6
            Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

            Some of the most amusing hand-timing you'll see is at high school meets, especially in events like the 100m.

            First place 11.1, second place 10.7, third place 13.3 - and these are results for three guys who basically finished the race together.

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            • #7
              Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

              >Some of the most amusing hand-timing you'll see is at high school meets,
              >especially in events like the 100m.

              First place 11.1, second place 10.7,
              >third place 13.3 - and these are results for three guys who basically finished
              >the race together.

              Just shows the level of expertise of last-minute volunteer timers at run of the mill dual HS meets. Great that there are volunteers, but no training, no experience has predictable results. Measurements of field events probably not too hotsy totsy either.

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              • #8
                Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                I agree with GH that 'easy' is relative, but with practice you can, as you say, get within .01 or .02 of the auto time. It is fun at meets such as the trials to time the races, even the heats, and see how close you can get. The only downside is when I timed all-comer meets in Boulder, my times were always .2 'too slow'. I tried to train others in this method, and somewhat succeeded but not always.

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                • #9
                  Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                  I watch meets on tv with a stopwatch, and usually I am accurate within the hundreths. But you always have ancertainty involved because, there is always a nasty misser (I suspect when I tried to hard)

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                  • #10
                    Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                    >I agree with GH that 'easy' is relative, but with practice you can, as you say,
                    >get within .01 or .02 of the auto time. It is fun at meets such as the trials
                    >to time the races, even the heats, and see how close you can get. >>

                    And since it's not gambling (unless you're a poor timer), allow me to suggest that it's even more fun when you turn it into a game involving (gasp) money.

                    We usually play a quarter a race, so if 10 people are playing it's a monstrous $2.50 a shot as the pot (!). Since we've been using quarters for 20-odd years now, perhaps we should be switching to dollars in keeping with inflation.

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                    • #11
                      Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                      No name is right... the worst nightmare at a high school track meet is a blanket finish where place pickers differ and lane times are examined to try to sort things out!!! Yikes. How many high schools are currently using video finish technology to pick and time races? The smallish school where I work has done so for the past 7-8 years but we seem to be almost unique in the area.

                      Also, GH's method for accurate hand-timing by concentrating on not anticipating the finish seems to make sense if reaction time to the start and reaction time to the finish are equal. If timers really observe closely at both ends of the race then their times would, logically, be very accurate.

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                      • #12
                        Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                        I'm thinking those 1967 times may not be FAT, only Partially AT. Weren't the original photo timers manually started, then photographs read for the finish? That could explain the .1 difference, instead of .24?

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                        • #13
                          Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                          A few years ago I was head timer at a college meet with a crew of mostly novice timers plus a phototimer. During the course of the meet, the two sets of times diverged; surprising because up to then the times were very consistent. I asked the operator to check his machine. Sure enough, the batteries were low. I've never been comfortable without backup timing.

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                          • #14
                            Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                            hjsteve covered most of this, but it's inteersting to compare the winning marks from the 1961 to 1963 AAU 100's - 9.2, 9.3 and 9.1, or in auto-timing terms - 9.36, 9.35 and 9.40 !

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                            • #15
                              Re: On Not Trusting Hand Timing

                              >I watch meets on tv with a stopwatch

                              What's the point??? Don't they show a running clock on the tv screen ?
                              Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne...

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