Issues

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Track: Team Sport or Individual Sport

An issue that has been bouncing around my mind lately as the spring season has come to a close has been that of whether track is an individual sport or a team sport. I'm conflicted on this topic, since I can see the merit of both perspectives. In this article I will explore this question...

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Some Thoughts about Wind Readings

A phenomenon that is unique to the sprint and hurdle events in track and field is that of wind-aided times. The current rule is, if a race is run with a wind reading above 2.0 meters per second, the times in that race cannot qualify as records of any kind. But wind readings aren't used...

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Seven Steps to the First Hurdle: Fad or Trend?

In the English Composition class that I teach to my high school students, one of the assignments is to write a "trend" paper. The students are to identify a trend in society and argue as to why that trend has become prevalent, and whether it will continue. A trend is not the same as a...

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Robles and Oliver: A Comparison/Contrast

As we head into the World Championship year of 2011, two high hurdlers who will likely be vying for supremacy are Cuban Dayron Robles and American David Oliver. Robles, in 2008, had one of the most dominant years ever in the event, setting a world record of 12.87 and winning an Olympic gold medal. After...

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Fluidity

We must learn from ourselves. We must trust the inner person. – George Sheehan Part One: The Man Without a Plan If one really wishes to be a master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an “artless art” growing out of...

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World Championships Review, 2011

Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles Before getting to the crazy stuff, congratulations to Jason Richardson for bringing home a gold medal. Richardson, who has had an excellent season in his second campaign as a pro, looked great throughout the rounds and in the finals. His 13.11 in the semi-finals proved to be the fastest time of...

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World Championship Predictions, August 2011

It’s that time of year again. With the World Championships rolling around in another week, it’s time to make some predictions as to who will earn the medals in the hurdling events. It’s a very inexact science, but it’s still fun to do. With that being said, let’s take a look at the four hurdling...

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A Look Back at the London 2012 Olympics

It was an exciting 2012 London Olympics. I’ll use this space to break down my analysis and reflections on the hurdling events in particular, as well as on some other goings on at the track. Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles Gold: Aries Merritt (USA) 12.92 Silver: Jason Richardson (USA) 13.04 Bronze: Hansle Parchment (JAM) 13.12 All...

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Hurdling Is a Dance

To be a good hurdler, one must be a good dancer. One must learn to step into the rhythm created by the space between the hurdles and the height of the hurdles. One must learn to become one with that rhythm. Then, after having mastered it, one must be willing to break it down in...

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The Love Factor

“It is not what you do that matters, but how much love with which you do it.” –Mother Theresa For a very long time now, I’ve been feeling that, when it comes to getting better in the hurdles, we’re going about it all wrong. Or, at the very least, we’re leaving out a key component:...

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At Home in this World

Inspired by the facebook videos of Terry Reese, I've started doing some hurdling again, for the first time in a long time. I've hurdled on four separate occasions in the past two weeks. The 44-year-old Reese, a former national-caliber hurdler back in the 1990s who has gone on to coach at the collegiate level for...

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It’s Time for a Change

Okay the previous article I wrote, “World Championships Review,” was the soft one. This will be the harsh one. I’m upset, and I’ve been upset for quite a while now, with the American approach to hurdling. Power power power, speed speed speed, technique be damned. It doesn’t work. I’ve put it in kinder terms before,...

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Hurdling with an Empty Mind

Races in which there is much at stake, in which the pressure to perform is at its highest, require a different mindset than the mindset fitting for a practice setting, or even an early-season meet. For a hurdler, hurdling sessions and early-season meets are all about thinking, making decisions, figuring out what works best. That’s...

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The Essence of a Hurdler

“There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine, new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are....

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A Look at Aries Merritt’s 12.80

After Aries Merritt smashed the world record in the men’s 110 meter high hurdles last week, a lot of people have been asking me if I was surprised and what I think he did differently to run so fast. While I wasn’t surprised that he broke the record, I was surprised that he broke it...

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Is the Two-Step the Next Step?

Sprint Like Sprinters Now that there are many world class hurdlers taking seven steps to the first hurdle, the next question we need to ask is whether we will be seeing someone taking two steps between the hurdles at some point in a race in the future. Sounds far-fetched, I know, but don’t think it...

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Thoughts on the Women’s 100m Hurdles

I have occasionally received comments from women that I don’t put up many articles that focus on the women’s 100m hurdle race. True, I must admit I’m much more interested in the men’s 110’s, but in this article I willl take some time to take a close look at the women’s race. The biggest reason...

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The Lost Art of Hurdling

“…and that’s bad for good, and that’s bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good.” --Consequence The first hurdle race I ever watched was Renaldo Nehemiah’s world record race in Zurich, Switzerland in 1981. Nehemiah became the first sub-13.00 hurdler in history with his 12.93, while Greg Foster finished second in a blazing 13.03. My reaction...

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It’s Time to Get Rid of the Down Year in Track

A topic that often comes up in my conversations with other track people is the “down year” that occurs every fourth year, in which no World or Olympic championship takes place. Why, we ask, is there not a world championship meet every year? That topic has come up more often recently because, for better or...

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An Inner Motivation

For most of my life I’ve been a big fan of elite-level track and field. Now I’m not. And the reason is simple: drugs. Because of performance-enhancing drug use, and the greed and ambition that inspires it, our sport is dying a slow death, propelling itself into the realm of irrelevancy. The list of fallen...

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A Look Back at 2009: Men’s 400 Meter Intermediate Hurdles

The story of the year in the men’s 400m intermediate hurdles would have to be Kerron Clement. Not only because of his second consecutive world championship victory, but, more importantly in my opinion, because he has finally found his rhythm. In both the semi-finals and the finals the WC’s, he 13-stepped the whole way. Although...

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A Look Back at 2009: Women’s 400 Meter Hurdles

It would be fair to say that 2009 was an exciting year in the women’s 400 meter hurdles, and that two particular women – Lashinda Demus of the USA and Melaine Walker of Jamaica – are the reason why. These two exceptional athletes battled for supremacy throughout the summer, with Walker emerging as the World...

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A Look Back at 2009: Men’s 110 Meter High Hurdles

I’d say that 2009 was definitely a down year in the men’s 110 meter high hurdles. The fastest time in the 110s was Dayron Robles’ 13.04. I don’t know the last year no one broke 13.00 in this event, but it had to be a long, long time ago. Part of the explanation has to...

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Increase the Spacing?

It seems to me that at the elite level, the men’s 110m high hurdles has become an event in crisis. While the sprint events have been providing much thrills and chills with the dominance of Usain Bolt, the return of Tyson Gay from injury, the sporadic brilliance of Asafa Powell, and the overall rivalry between...

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Changes in Philosophy

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson Over the past five years, since the inception of this website, my approach to coaching the hurdles has evolved a great deal. Coaching some outstanding hurdlers, as well as many hard-working hurdlers who didn’t have as much physical ability, has taught me much...

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Is Track Boring?

“Wake me up when the hurdles start.” That’s a phrase I often find myself saying at a track meet. I’m gonna have to go ahead and make the frank confession that track meets largely bore me. And based on the behavior of athletes and spectators at high school and college meets that I’ve attended this...

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A Look Back at the 2008 Summer Olympics

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China ran through the gamut of emotions. They were dramatic, disappointing, tragic, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, frustrating, agonizing, touching, disastrous, and inspiring all rolled into one. In this article I’ll take a look back on some of my own impressions of the track events, then onto general impressions of the Games...

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Beijing Predictions

Well it's that time again. Time to play "Who ya got?" as another international championship meet approaches. This one, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, should prove to be very exciting in the hurdling events. Besides the usual hype, there's the massive media attention surrounding Liu Xiang's attempt to win a gold medal in...

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Thoughts on the Olympic Trials

In an earlier article I discussed my thoughts on the men’s 400m hurdles at the Olympic trials. So let me go ahead and make some more observations in the other hurdling events: Lolo Jones has arrived One of the biggest developments of the US trials is that Lolo Jones emerged as the unequivocal best American...

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Men’s 400m Hurdles: What’s Going On?

In watching the US trials last weekend, a thought suddenly hit me a few minutes after the men’s 400 hurdle final: no one had broken 48 seconds. Not Bershawn Jackson, whose personal best is 47.30, not Kerron Clement, whose personal best is 47.24, not Angelo Taylor whose personal best is 47.50. And James Carter, whose...

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Negative Chatter

With the “big-meet” part of the season coming around the corner for many high school and collegiate athletes, it’s time to address a bad habit that is an issue for many hurdlers: negative chatter. Many times, as pressure mounts and the stakes rise, we overwhelm ourselves with negative thoughts that prevent us from performing at...

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Medals Matter

One of the funny things about track is that you do best when you focus on yourself, but you cannot bring out the best in yourself without the aid of competition. From a young age we’re encouraged to go for the gold, and for elite athletes the lure of Olympic gold is one of the...

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Time to Scrap 55m Hurdles?

I’m wondering if people who run the hurdles, coach the hurdles, or are interested in the hurdles would agree with my belief that it might be time to scrap 55 meter hurdles as an indoor event. I think it would be better instead at this point to stick exclusively with the 60 meter hurdles as...

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Beyond Xiang

The men's 110 meter high hurdles over the 42-inch barriers is the only hurdle event in track in which it can unequivocally be said that technique matters more than speed. Over the 39-inch hurdles at the high school level, a hurdler with superior speed can get away with a lot of flaws and beat a...

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Youth Hurdlers’ Transitions

In USATF youth track, hurdling begins at the11-12 year-old age group with the 80 meter hurdles for both boys and girls. At the 13-14 year-old age group, they move up to the 100m distance, with the boys running over 33” hurdles and the girls running over 30” hurdles. Also, both boys and girls begin running...

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Common Sense Things

There are some common-sense things that can enable an athlete at any level to get the most out of his or her talent. These lessons don’t apply just to hurdlers, but to any track and field athlete who is serious about his or her training regimen and is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to...

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The 400 Hurdles: A Quarter-Miler’s Race?

In watching the most recent world championships, it caught my eye that Angelo Taylor, well-known as the 2000 Olympic champion in the 400 hurdles, finished 3rd in the open quarter. Also, Taylor ran a leg on the US gold medal winning 4x400 relay. When you add in the fact that Kerron Clement, WC gold medalist...

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Oh Marion…

So Marion Jones has finally come clean. Well, sort of. I must admit that I was one of the people who believed every one of her lies over the past five or so years. I remember getting into arguments about it with friends. No, I would say, Marion never used drugs. She was always good....

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Some Thoughts on the World Championships

Now that the 2007 version of the Track and Field World Championships in Osaka, Japan have drawn to a close, I have some closing thoughts I’d like to share regarding the hurdling and sprinting events, starting with the hurdles first. It was an exciting week and many American athletes came through with huge performances while...

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Performance-enhancing Drugs in the Hurdles

I haven’t written any articles on this site about the steroid issues in track, mainly because, fortunately, there haven’t been many cases of it in the hurdling events. The only American hurdlers I know of who have tested positive are Larry Wade and Tony Dees. But with stars like Allen Johnson and Terrence Trammell for...

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Is Taller Better?

The common perception among those who don’t follow the hurdles closely is that taller hurdlers make for better hurdlers. While this is true to an extent, there are exceptions. While it’s easier to teach a taller hurdler to 3-step in the sprint hurdles and they can more easily swallow up ground in the long hurdles,...

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World Championships Preview, 2007

With another World Championships in Osaka, Japan less than a month away, it’s time to make some projections as to who the medalists will be in the hurdling events. Some hurdlers have been very active in the past six weeks or so while others have been injured or have limited their competitions in order to...

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Should High School Hurdlers Train Over 42-inch Hurdles?

One question that a coaching friend of mine brought up in a recent email has to do with whether male high school hurdlers should train over hurdles set at the 42-inch college height. It’s a very good question – one worth addressing in an article. Generally, my answer is that, for a variety of reasons,...

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Technique in the Intermediate Hurdles

A few weeks ago I received an email from a coach asking my thoughts on technique in the intermediate hurdle race, as compared to technique in the sprint hurdles. It was a very good question that I’ve debated about with people before. My opinion differs from the general consensus. Here is the response I gave...

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How to Save a Hurdler

“Between the lines of fear and blame you begin to wonder why you came” --The Fray I was driving from Raleigh to Delaware during the Christmas holidays this past December, on my way to visit my mom. I had bought my eight-year-old daughter a copy of How to Save a Life by The Fray, and,...

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Indoor Track: Useful or Useless?

I’m not a big fan of indoor track meets. They’re too cramped, too crowded, there’s not enough room for spectators to sit and watch comfortably, not enough room for athletes to warm up without slamming into each other, not enough room for coaches to walk around and give instructions to their athletes. And if you...

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Not All Hurdlers are High Hurdlers

The 400 Meter Hurdler: A Different Type of Animal Aka Not All Hurdlers are High Hurdlers In developing hurdlers, the most common method is to teach hurdling mechanics through drills and workouts that focus on the 110m/100m hurdles. This is the method that I most often use; even if I start kids out by learning...

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Lane Assignments in the Hurdling Events

  This past summer Mark Hale-Brown of runningmovies.com emailed me and asked if I’d write an article about lane assignments in the hurdling events. I put it on my to-do list, but never got around to doing it, until now. The November issue of Track & Field News jogged my memory, as two articles in...

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High Hurdle Heat Intensifies

Although 2006 features no World Championships and no Olympic Games, the competitive level in the 110 meter high hurdles is arguably at an all-time high. The 110s have turned into one of the most competitive events in track and field. Of course, I would argue that it is the most competitive event. Several hurdlers have...

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Johnson Returns to Form In Zurich

Just when I thought it was safe to assume that Allen Johnson had officially fallen down a peg from the top tier of high hurdlers, he goes out and busts a 13.14 at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich. The time is impressive, but even more impressive is that he defeated two of the young guns...

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Finding Your Own Style

“You don’t know me and you don’t know my style.” –Method Man Hurdling, at its best, is a means of self-expression. It’s a way of showing the world who you are. When you can hurdle in a way that is unique to who you are as an athlete and who you are as a person,...

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Do You Have to Be a Hurdler?

Do you have to be a hurdler, or former hurdler, in order to be a good hurdle coach? That’s a question that’s worth looking into. I’m gonna ride the fence on this one and answer yes, and no. Being a hurdler helps when it comes to coaching hurdlers, but being a hurdler and being a...

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Don’t Talk about School

The type of athlete that drives a coach crazy more than any other is an athlete with lazy practice habits, regardless of his or her ability level. While some athletes who seem to be lazy really aren’t, they do lack focus. The ability to focus mentally throughout an entire practice session is not very common...

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Rod Milburn: The Double-Armed Man

As I continue to gather research for the biography I plan to write on 1972 Olympic high hurdle champion Rodney Milburn, I find that the thing that most intrigued me about his hurdling technique was his employment of a double-arm motion during hurdle clearance. Both his lead arm and his trail arm would thrust forward,...

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Love to Hurdle

While it’s easy to say “go for what you know,” “follow your dreams,” “don’t stop believing,” and to use similar motivational phrases, we all know that the many demands of training, competing, and staying afloat in other areas of your life can turn a happy hurdler into grumpy hurdler rather quickly. So the question becomes,...

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Who Will be the Next U.S. High Hurdling Great?

Now that Allen Johnson is entering the twilight of his career, the time has come to start thinking about who the next great American high hurdler will be. The history of American distinction in this event dates back to the early part of the twentieth century, and has been continued generation after generation. From Forrest...

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It’s Time to Give Allen Johnson His Proper Respect

The United States of America has produced many great Track & Field champions over the past century. The names that stand out most clearly are those of such stars as Jesse Owens, Jim Ryun, Wilma Rudolph, Tommie Smith, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Edwin Moses, and Michael Johnson, among others. I strongly feel that it is...

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Don’t Take it so Hard, Coach

While we can all agree that coaches must not allow themselves to live vicariously through their athletes, we would also have to agree that it is kind of hard not to. The quality of the coaching is generally measured by the performance of the athletes. If they succeed, you succeed; if they fail, you fail....

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Cross-training?

Although it is true that, in order to run faster, a track athlete needs to get out on the track and run, and that a hurdler, in particular, needs to clear a lot of hurdles in order to improve his or her hurdling technique, the question as to whether or not a hurdler can benefit...

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Goal Setting: Yes or No?

"Every man's got the right to decide his own destiny." --Bob Marley Introduction One of the questions that comes up at the dawn of every new season is, What goals do I want to accomplish this year? While some athletes like to have clear, concrete goals to shoot for from the outset, others prefer to...

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Leisure Activities for Hurdlers

Watch me get down and do my thing, baby. --Busta Rhymes Between attending classes every day, training every day, doing homework, maintaining important relationships, and keeping up with other personal business, most hurdlers don’t have much time to spend leisurely, but when you do have time, it is important to find hobbies that are productive...

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A Few Thoughts about Rankings

In Track & Field, when discussing who is the “best,” we all like to use rankings as a barometer. Whether they be world rankings, national rankings, regional, state-wide, city-wide, county-wide, when the rankings are listed, we all flock to the newspaper or internet to see where the athletes we care about stand in comparison to...

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Cross Country for Hurdlers?

Now that the off-season is here and the fall is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about what a hurdler should be doing at this time of year. Is this a time of year to focus on weight training, to play a fall sport such as soccer or football, or should a hurdler be...

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It’s Not All About the Start

One of my favorite questions to answer no to is, “Coach, can we work on our starts today?” The reason I enjoy answering no is because I’m usually being asked by an athlete who is trying to avoid doing the grunt work needed to get in shape. Lazy athletes will always try to avoid hard...

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World Championships Review, 2005

It was another exciting World Championships in 2005, replete with remarkable achievements, heroic efforts, moments of heartbreak, and, specific to this year’s meet, some of the most bizarre weather in which a track meet has ever been conducted. The United States finished the Championships with an astounding total of fourteen gold medals – stunning when...

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Hurdling in the Dark

You can’t start a fire, you can’t start a fire without a spark. This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just [hurdling] in the dark. --Bruce Springsteen, paraphrased Hurdling in the dark – after the sun has gone down, but before it is too dark outside to see – is something that plenty of hurdlers...

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The HurdlesFirst Coaching Philosophy

There are a lot of different kinds of Track & Field coaches out there. A small few are true track coaches, who have a genuine love of all the events and a vast range of knowledge to go with it. Most coaches, though, specialize in either the distance events or the sprint events. Then there...

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World Championships Preview, 2005

  The 2005 Track & Field World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, set to take place in mid-August, will feature some intense battles in the hurdling events. Since it wouldn’t be very courageous of me to predict the winners after a whole month of European meets take place, I’ll go ahead and make my predictions now,...

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USA Outdoor Championships Provide Much Sparkle and Glitter

My goodness gracious. Just when you thought the hyped-ness couldn’t get more hyped, along come the outdoor nationals, and more outstanding performances in the men’s and women’s hurdles. (And other events too, but who cares?). At the top of the list of amazing performances we have to put Allen Johnson, who won the 110’s in...

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Should There Be Penalties for Hitting Hurdles?

One of the trends in the men’s 110m high hurdle race that has become increasingly disturbing to me is the tendency of many hurdlers to hit an inordinate number of hurdles in the course of a race. Just as, in the women’s 100m hurdle race, the low height of the hurdles enables hurdlers to get...

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Raise ‘Em Up

You gonna have to raise up, Brotherman, you gotta raise up outta here. -Martin Lawrence For the past decade or so, there has been a lot of talk about raising the height of the women’s 100m hurdles to 36” from the current 33”. Yet, for all the talk, rumor, and opinionating, nothing has happened. So,...

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Oodles of Hurdlers are Making Noise in 2005

I got oodles and oodles of O’s, you know. I get ‘em from my sister, I get ‘em from my bro. --De La Soul My goodness, the second weekend of June 2005 proved to be one of the most exciting ever in the world of hurdling, as all kinds of remarkable performances were turned out...

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The Coach’s Role on Race Day

As we enter into the championship season for high school and college Track & Field, I felt it was appropriate that I write an article on getting athletes mentally prepared to run on race day, particularly in regards to the hurdling events. The coach’s role on the day of a big race is to say...

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The Art of Hurdling

"A good athlete can enter into a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. . . . We can’t tell the dancer from the dance.” -Stephen Mitchell, from the foreword to his translation of the Tao Te Ching Part...

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On the State of Track & Field

Introduction I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but I for one am tired of always hearing about the sorry state of American Track & Field. The popularity of our sport, or lack thereof, has been an issue ever since I can remember, and I started to closely follow track in the...

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Ode to the Average Joe

I’m not an average Joe, with an average flow. . . . --Method Man I think it would be fair to say that all beginning hurdlers harbor notions to one degree or another of someday competing in the Olympic Games, of taking a victory lap around the track after setting a new world record, of...

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300m or 400m Hurdles at High School Level?

An issue of increasing relevance on the high school level is whether the intermediate hurdle race should be 300 or 400 meters long. I recently searched the internet to find out how many states feature a 300m race, as opposed to how many feature a 400m race. To my surprise, I found that most states...

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The Hurdle – Football Connection

When I first started coaching, I didn’t want for my hurdlers to play football. I was afraid they would hurt themselves beyond repair. The reason for this attitude was that during my high school days, my track coaches emphasized that we should run cross country in the fall in order to get stronger for the...

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Space on the Track

“Hey hey hey, get out my way.” - Fat Albert Introduction Finding sufficient space on the track to do a workout or even to do drills can be a major issue for hurdlers and hurdle coaches. Depending on the number of hurdlers on a team, the number of other teammates who will be using the...

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How Often to Hurdle Per Week

Introduction One question that often comes up in regards to a hurdler’s training program is how often per week a hurdler should hurdle. There is no definite answer to this question, as there are many determining factors, such as time of year, a hurdler’s level of experience, and whether or not a hurdler competes in...

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All Good Hurdlers Fall

Introduction The one thing that all beginning hurdlers are most afraid of is falling. The one thing that will happen at least once in the career of all hurdlers is they will fall. Does that mean that hitting hurdles is a bad thing, to be avoided at all costs? Yes. And no. I’ve never been...

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200m Hurdles

An event that I’d like to see as part of the program for collegiate, national, and international track competitions is a 200m hurdle race. This thought has been buzzing around in my head for quite some time, so I’ve finally decided to write about it. To me, the 200m hurdles would be such a fun...

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