The persistence of two relay baton-passing techniques - the upsweep and the downsweep - indicates that coaches have found advantages and disadvantages to both.
The upsweep exchange unquestionably offers the receiving runner a more natural hand position. However, it also requires some adjustment of the baton before the next handoff. The upsweep advantage favors three runners (2nd – 4th leg), while the disadvantage affects two (2nd and 3rd leg).
The downsweep exchange requires no baton manipulation. But it does require that the outgoing runner accept the baton with their arm/hand in an unnatural position. The downsweep advantage favors two runners (2nd and 3rd leg), while the disadvantage affects three (2nd – 4th leg).
In the end, it's usually the coach's personal preference that determines which baton exchange method is used.
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