To set the bobsled in motion, team members sprint while pushing the sled forward. They run for about 50 m (164 ft) and then leap into the sled just before the first turn, assuming streamlined positions for the remainder of the run. The driver occupies the front position and steers the sled. The brakeman, in the rear position, operates the brake. On a fourman bobsled the two middle sledders contribute mostly during the start, although they also shift their weight during turns.
On the course, drivers try to steer through the turns smoothly and to prevent the sled from skidding into the walls. The greatest challenge is to maintain a tight line on the banked curves, not allowing the sled to drift high up the turn. After the finish, the brakeman pulls up on the brake to stop the sled.
The basic techniques used in twoman and fourman bobsledding are the same, but because fourman sleds have two extra sledders, they are faster. They gain power from the extra push provided by the middle sledders at the start, the sledders additional weight, and the increased weight of a larger sled. The increased speed and weight make fourman sleds harder to steer than twoman sleds. Bobsled competitions involve training runs and two or four heats, with the lowest combined time winning. Racers often use the training runs to experiment with different strategies.