Starts with Alex and Matt

February 25, 2017

I’m a big believer in the importance of good, compatible training partners. For a hurdler, having another hurdler to train with can be as important as having an effective coach. When two hurdlers of similar ability levels and work ethics train together, they can further each other’s progress in ways that the coach couldn’t have predicted. Last week, a hurdler that I used to coach regularly when I was living in Raleigh, NC came by for a training session, joining another hurdler that I currently coach here on the Charlotte side of the state. Both athletes – Alex Nunley and Matt Garrett – are youth hurdlers at the top of the 13-14-year-old age group, preparing to compete at the indoor Junior Olympic Nationals in New York this coming March.

For that day’s workout, the main item on my agenda was to have them get in some starts together. Neither of them has a training partner who can push them in the hurdles, so I needed to make sure I took advantage of this opportunity to have them push each other.

So I organized the workout in the following manner:

First I had them do the 3-step marching drill that I described in my last blog post – 15 reps over 5 hurdles. Then we moved into the quick-step drill, also described in the last post – 10 reps over five hurdles. That’s heavy volume, I know, but it’s consistent with my philosophy that we are always training with the outdoor season goals in mind.

From there, we moved into the speed phase of the workout. I had them both do a few practice starts on their own – with no hurdles, then over one hurdle, then over two.

Then we went ahead and did several competitive starts – over one hurdle, over two hurdles, then over three. We got in about twelve reps total, with full recovery between reps.

In this session – as is always the case when I have mature, experienced athletes working together – I provided minimal instruction between reps, allowing Alex and Matt to go at it without thinking too much. Though these kids are only 14, they have very high hurdling IQ’s. When such athletes are in competitive mode, it’s important to let their competitive nature take over. Nobody wants to lose, not even in practice. So, in such a scenario, the key is to avoid over-coaching. I don’t obsess over trying to fix every flaw; instead, I focus on the ones that are simplest, that don’t require a breaking down and rebuilding of mechanics.

This session was a very enjoyable one, as Alex and Matt get along very well, and both have a competitive fire that is a recognizable trait of great hurdlers I’ve coached in the past.

The video below shows the reps that I recorded on my phone. Hopefully we’ll be able to fit in another session like this one prior to nationals.

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