It used to be that the only thing a kid had to improve his track performance was a starting block. On the old cinder tracks they were heavy metal devices with spikes that stuck into the cinders. Today these starting blocks are aluminum with very tiny spikes and the block is easy to adjusted to each sprinter. Track races up through the 800 meters are so competitive that a good runner needs this push from the block to get the type of start that will give them a chance to win. A good push from the blocks can give you as much as a 2-step lead in a sprint race.
That brings me to some of the new devices used to improve the performances of track runners. We use a ramp board in high jump to teach jumpers how to react to higher heights and improve their ability to arch their body over the bar. In both high jump and pole vault, a band is used in practice instead of a crossbar. This reduces the fear of coming down on a crossbar and injuring the jumper while they are learning the technique of these two events. It also saves a lot of money since these bands seldom ever break. If they do, they are inexpensive.
There are all kinds of hurdle aids to again reduce injury in the novice hurdler and develop the proper step pattern in running a full set of hurdles. These plastic devices are adjustable and do not impede the runner if he or she hits them.
In another article I will talk about all the injury preventing aids that trainers now have to help runners.