Alternating Drills

April 16, 2017

In last week’s practice with my athlete Scout, we did a lot of drills. Her lower back was tightening up on her, so we decided not to risk injury. Instead of going full speed out of the blocks, we repped some drills to help with her 4-stepping, since she is still 4-stepping most of the 100m hurdle race. The alternating drills always also help with the 300m hurdles as well, since alternating in that race can be so important in maintaining rhythm and maintaining an optimal take-off distance from each hurdle.

We did three drills, all of which are represented in the video at the end of this post. The drills appear in the video in the following order:

1. 4-stepping at a moderate speed over 36” hurdles with the hurdles moved in three feet from the race marks.
2. 3-step high-knee marches over 30” hurdles with the hurdles 12 feet apart.
3. 4-stepping eight 30” hurdles with the hurdles moved in three feet from the race marks (this drills is designed more specifically for the 300h).

Now, let me explain the purpose of each drill:

The purpose of 4-stepping over 36’s was to emphasize something that I consider to be absolutely vital – getting a good push off the back leg during take-off. Scout tends to push off minimally, especially when leading with her weaker leg (the left leg). Actually, to be specific, the problem isn’t the lead leg, but the trail leg. The trail leg (right leg) when she leads with her left leg tends not to push off with as much force, necessitating that she rely more heavily on her lead leg to extend sooner than we would normally like. The earlier, flatter, more horizontal extension of the lead leg causes the trail leg to pass the barrier at a very flat angle, and to often make contact with the barrier with the knee, shin, ankle, and/or foot. So, the 36’s force her to push off with force just to clear the hurdle at all. As I’ve stated in other posts, drilling over 36’s, in small doses, can be very effective for female hurdlers and youth hurdlers if the purpose for doing so is clear.

The purpose of the 3-step high-knee marches was to emphasize the knee lift in the strides in between the hurdles. As you’ll see in the video, the knee lift is greatly exaggerated, and that is by design. By exaggerating the knee lift in the drill, the mind/body construct makes the connection to lift the knees higher when it’s time to run faster. With Scout, the low knee lift between the hurdles leads to the knee of the lead leg being too low when she clears the hurdle, which, like the lack of push-off, leads to a very horizontal trajectory that leads to a flat trail leg and a lot of smacked hurdles.

The purpose of 4-stepping over eight 30” hurdles was just to get in some rhythm work using both lead legs (and both trail legs. I can’t emphasize enough, the greatest difficulty with alternating lies not with leading with the opposite lead, but of pushing off with the opposite leg. The leg that usually leads is not used to pushing off the ground and then driving to the front. It’s used to being in the front). The more we can get in this type of work, the more the “weaker” side strengthens, and the more confident she will feel in using it.

This week we did some drilling on the curve to work on negotiating the curve efficiently in the 300h. I’ll be putting up a video from that session later in the week, so be on the lookout for that. Here’s the video from last week’s workout:

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