Latest Blog Posts

Cycle over the Hurdle

July 16, 2017

Last week I spent three days working with a high school girl who ran 16.5 as a freshman, taking nine steps to the first hurdle and four steps between the rest of the way. Without much coaching, she dropped from the 19’s at the beginning of the outdoor season all the way down to the mid-16’s on sheer will, determination and athleticism. When her grandfather first drove her down from Maryland to North Carolina last month to train with me, we spent almost all of our time breaking down her form and rebuilding it.

Mainly, we worked on fixing her habit of swinging the lead leg from the hip instead of driving with the knee. We also addressed the habit of her arms crossing her body, and her foot-strikes landing on her heels instead of on the balls of her feet.

She came back for another set of sessions last week, and in our first session, we picked up where we left off before speeding things up in later sessions. The video embedded in this post comes from a few reps in that first session, in which I had her do the cycle drill. The hurdles were set at 30 inches, spaced 18 feet apart.

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In Hurdles We Trust

July 16, 2017

“Jazz is about being creative, and always staying creative. Jazz is about being outside of the box. Jazz is about feeling outside of the box. Jazz is about asking questions outside of the box. To express yourself, to be unique. To have a unique voice, a unique style. When you’re dealing with music you’re dealing with infinity. There’s no beginning, there’s no end. It’s an ongoing, never-ending journey. It’s an ocean you never will cross.”

The above quote was spoken by one of my all-time favorite musicians, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware, who passed away a few years ago. Ware was definitely a musician who pushed the boundaries, who didn’t even acknowledge their presence. His music is not easy to listen to, nor even pleasant to listen to. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, takes you on a sojourn to places unknown. But if you trust him, if you take the journey with him, if you keep listening, you will be rewarded. You will become a wiser, more perceptive human being. You will become more sensitive, more compassionate. And you will feel good about life.

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Lead Arm Thoughts

June 29, 2017

When it comes to the lead arm, I’m a big proponent of keeping it as close to the natural sprinting motion as possible. It should not cross the body, but should drive straight up and straight down. Keeping the lead arm tight like this provides a tighter window for the trail leg to drive through when coming to the front. That way, the groin of the trail leg doesn’t open up excessively, but only just enough to enable a clean clearance of the obstacle. For examples of current hurdlers who employ this type of lead arm action, look at footage of Orlando Ortega, Keni Harrison, and Sally Pearson. The key is, the elbow stays below the hand when the hurdler takes off into the barrier.

In the photo above, Ortega is on the left, racing against Aries Merritt on the right. Note how Ortega’s elbow stays below the hand as he attacks the crossbar. Upon descent, the hand will punch straight down, allowing the knee of the trail leg to drive upward/forward with minimal opening of the groin.

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