Training Tips

Transitioning From Indoor to Outdoor Season

For the 110/100m hurdler, the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season can be a bit confusing – for the body and for the mind. For the indoor season, since the race is so short, the focus is primarily on mastering the start and the first three hurdles. As a result, conditioning will [...]

Cut Step

The last step a hurdler takes prior to clearing a hurdle, commonly known as the cut step, is usually referred to by that term because the idea is to make the step a little shorter than the previous steps. So we’re talking about step 8, or in some cases 7, or in some cases 9 [...]

Talk Yourself Through

“I talk to myself Cause there is no one to talk to People ask me why I do what I do.”  -Christopher Williams It’s a little bit funny that people who talk to themselves out loud are assumed to be crazy. All of us talk to ourselves silently all the time. But when the thoughts [...]

An Emphasis on Sprint Mechanics

While hurdlers and hurdle coaches tend to place a tremendous amount of emphasis on hurdling mechanics (and rightfully so), it is also equally important to emphasize sprint mechanics. How one runs over hurdles is, after all, an extension of how one runs. Flaws in one’s sprint mechanic Flaws will inevitably lead to flaws in hurdling [...]

The Zone

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope…” – T.S. Eliot In an article from last week entitled “Slow Down to Speed Up,” I talked about how the highest level of achievement in the hurdles comes when you enter “The Zone,” where you can execute all the aspects of speed and technique without [...]

Slow Down to Speed Up

If one really wishes to be 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 the Unconscious. -Daisetz T. Suzuki This article goes out to all the impatient hurdlers out there, those of you who want to [...]

Forward Momentum in the Blocks

In an article from early April of this year titled “Forward Lean,” I argued the importance of maintaining a deep forward lean throughout hurdle clearance, and of continuing to stay forward while sprinting between the hurdles. I would like to take that point one step further in this article by arguing that forward momentum must [...]

Forward Lean

I’ve come to the conclusion that the most important aspect of hurdling technique is the lean. Why? Because, as this article will explain, the lean determines everything that happens from a technical standpoint during hurdle clearance. To simplify things, I’m going to categorize the lean into three basic types: minimal lean, downward lean, and forward [...]

High Knees

This coming outdoor season I’m going to make some major changes to the warm-up that my sprinters and hurdlers do at the beginning of practice. I’ve come to the realization that simpler is better, that less is more. This realization applies to teaching sprint mechanics as well. That’s where it applied initially, actually. And once [...]

Finish at the Bottom

A problem in hurdling that is more common than many of us realize is that when the foot of lead leg gets about an inch or two from the ground, it floats the rest of the way down. This is a relatively minor problem, especially for beginners. But the more advanced a hurdler is, and [...]

Late-Race Breakdowns in the 400 Hurdles

A lot of times, when I hear 400m hurdlers talk, they mention how they’re having a lot of difficulty maintaining their rhythm late in the race. “If I can just fix the second half,” they say, “I would drop so much time.” Then they ask me if I can suggest any workouts they can do [...]

Maintaining Forward Momentum

Heading into the World Indoor Championships this weekend, it looks like one of the favorites in the men’s 60m hurdles is American Terrence Trammell. You could make an argument for Trammell being the greatest indoor hurdler of all time, and he is in the midst of another stellar indoor season here in 2010. While there [...]

Pros and Cons of Isolation Drills

Recently I’ve received a few emails asking questions about isolation drills (lead leg drills and trail leg drills), so in this article I will go ahead and address those questions in more detail, and also let all of you know what I do currently with my athletes in regard to such drills. Let’s take a [...]

How Often Should 400 Hurdlers Hurdle during the Indoor Season?

I was saying to one of my athletes the other day, the indoor track season is a boring time of the year for a 400m hurdler. Every other athlete can compete in events that are either shortened or lengthened versions of their outdoor specialties, and field event athletes can compete in their specialties without the [...]

More Thoughts on Alternating

This summer I stumbled upon another way to develop the ability to alternate lead legs in the 300 and 400m hurdles. In previous article on this website, we’ve discussed workouts like the shuffle-the-deck workout and the two-step drill, as well as using the 100m back-and-forths with the athlete attempting to take eight strides in between [...]

Practice with Wayne Davis

My friend the photographer Derek Bradley came to practice again last week and took some more outstanding photos. The ones below are of Wayne Davis, who was working on a drill for most of the workout. In this drill Wayne was focusing on developing a faster cadence between the hurdles. We have come to the [...]

March 2009 Practice Session

At a recent practice session one of the parents of one of the kids I coach took some photos. It just so happens that this parent, Derek Bradley, is a professional photographer. The photos he took were remarkable, so I’m hoping he’ll feel the urge to take more in the future! Anyway, with such good [...]

Seven Steps to the First Hurdle?

While almost all hurdlers take eight steps to the first hurdle, there are a few who take seven. This article will discuss the benefits of seven-stepping, as well as the dangers involved in trying it. Is Seven-stepping Practical? Firstly, the seven-step approach to the first hurdle is designed for the taller hurdler. By taller we’re [...]

Stay Low

A habit that gets a lot of hurdlers into a lot of trouble is that of running with an upper-body posture that is too erect. There are four key moments when a hurdler must be aware of the need to stay low and drive forward: 1. Coming out of the blocks 2. In the last [...]

The Geometry of Hurdling

Just because you’re pouring syrup on this don’t make it pancakes. –C.L. Smooth As a high school student I couldn’t care less about geometry. I passed with a C- and was glad to be done with it. Except for Chemistry, there wasn’t a subject that I found more tedious and more useless. So it’s more [...]

Race Shape

With the indoor season underway, a lot of track athletes are already in panic mode, realizing that, in spite of all the training they’ve been doing, the positive attitude they’ve been cultivating, and the high expectations they had entering their first meet, they’re nowhere near close to being where they had hoped to be. “God [...]

A New Way of Hurdling

After one of my races in college I was walking back to the starting line to pick up my sweats when I stopped to watch the next heat. Something struck me as odd in the hurdling style of the winner, who stood 6-3. He seemed to be running downhill. The hurdles seemed so low as [...]

Should Women Shuffle?

A little while ago I wrote an article about shuffling between the hurdles in the men’s 110m high hurdle race. In this article I would like to discuss the same topic in regard to the women’s 100m hurdle race. While there are many similarities between the two races, there are several subtle differences that actually [...]

Shuffling Between the Hurdles

You may have noticed that a lot of today’s elite 110 hurdlers don’t sprint between the hurdles, but shuffle. Shuffling doesn’t become necessary until crowding becomes an issue. Until that happens, you want to employ proper sprinting mechanics between the hurdles. In order to shuffle well you have to make significant modifications to much that [...]

What Makes Robles Great

I’ll keep this article short, because if you’re talking about what makes Dayron Robles great, it should be pretty clear already. After breaking the world record in the men’s 110 meter hurdles with a 12.87, many people believe that Robles will take the record down even further before the end of the summer of 2008, [...]

400m Hurdles: The Run-in

One of the most important parts of the 400m hurdles is the run-in off the last hurdle. But it’s not a part of the race that gets practiced very often, or very effectively. Still, no one would argue that the run-in can make the difference in the race. This article will discuss the run-in and [...]

Word Choice

Being an avid reader and writer, and having taught high school English for the past fourteen years, I’ve become very aware of how language affects thought. The words and phrases we use to define things and describe things has a direct affect on how we perceive them. This point holds true in the world of [...]

The False False Start

It happened again, and every time it happens we all agree with the following advice: “If you don’t hear a second gun, keep going.” But if it were only that simple. At the World Indoor Championships March 7-9 in Valencia, Spain, Cuba’s Dayron Robles got left in the blocks in the semi-finals of the men’s [...]

Keep Running

One of the worst habits for a hurdler to develop is that of stopping before a hurdle, or going around a hurdle, while doing practice reps. Generally speaking, it still holds true that what you do in practice, you’ll do in a race. If you develop the habit of veering around hurdles, you are informing [...]

Susanna Kallur is Setting New Standards

On Saturday February 9, 2008 Susanna Kallur broke the world record in the women’s 60m hurdles with a 7.68 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Kallur’s world record can be sloughed off as not that big a deal because, after all, it is an indoor record and this is an Olympic year, so who cares about indoor records? [...]

Accelerating off the Hurdle

While the lead leg is definitely a major factor in providing fast hurdle times, two aspects of technique that often get overlooked in regards to generating speed are the trail leg and the lead arm. Sure, we all agree that these two aspects are important for balance and overall hurdling rhythm, but they can also [...]

Tucking the Heel

A problem for faster hurdlers who have crowding issues between hurdles is that of getting the lead leg up and over quickly enough to avoid hitting the crossbar. The faster you are between, the quicker you have to be on top and in the descent off the hurdle. These speed hurdlers generally hit a lot [...]

The Robles Factor

While Liu Xiang has created separation from the rest of the world’s elite 110 hurdlers and is still a major favorite to repeat as Olympic champion when the Games come to his native country of China in 2008, there are several hurdlers out there who could give him some trouble. One of them is young [...]

Checklist of Hurdling Necessities

There are certain basic things that a 110/100 hurdler needs to do in order to run fast. Coaches should constantly be looking for these things, and athletes should constantly be working on their weaknesses in these areas. This article will identify some of the basics and provide an explanation for each. Lead with the knee [...]

Sprint Speed vs. Hurdle Speed

I was having a conversation the other day with one of my athletes about the differences between sprinting speed and hurdling speed. As someone with a background in sprinting who is just now learning the dynamics of hurdling rhythm, he mentioned that he is discovering that sprinting speed and hurdling speed are nothing alike, that, [...]

A Technical Look at the World Champs 110m Hurdles

A few days ago I took a look at some technical things in the women’s 100 hurdles from the most recent World Championships in Osaka, Japan, so now I want to take a look at the men’s 110s. Since I’ve focused a lot on Liu Xiang in past articles, I’m going to focus on Terrence [...]

A Technical Look at the Women's World Champs 100m Hurdles

Got finished grading a mountain of papers the other day and decided to treat myself by looking at some photos from the World Championships. Of course, I’m always looking to see what I can pick up technically, so this article will take a look at some photos and provide some analysis of the women’s 100 [...]

From High School to College

I was thinking about this the other day: there are very few events in track and field that require athletes to make a major adjustment from high school to college. You got the shot-put and discus with heavier objects, but other than that, the only athletes who must adapt to a new event are hurdlers [...]

Hurdle Music

Because hurdling is a rhythmic activity, developing a heightened sense of sound can be very beneficial to success in the hurdling events. This article will discuss some sounds that can be very helpful to a hurdler. Music In The Hurdler’s Bible Wilbur Ross briefly discusses the idea of playing music during practice. Because hurdling is rhythmic and [...]

No Coach? No Problem.

Over the past few years I have received many emails from high school hurdlers and even some collegiate hurdlers who don’t have a hurdle coach, asking for tips. So this article is directed to any and all hurdlers who are trying to coach themselves. The first thing I want to say is, you don’t have [...]

Hurdling From Behind

In the 110/100 meter hurdles, we all know how important it is to get out with a good start and put pressure on your opponents to come track you down. A good start puts you into a good rhythm, and we all know that opponents are more likely to make technical mistakes and hit hurdles [...]

The Phases of a 400 Meter Hurdle Race

A little while ago I wrote an article breaking down the phases of the 100/110m hurdle race. So now I’ll go ahead and write one breaking down the phases of the 400m race. Hurdles 1-2: You should have a lot of nervous energy and adrenaline built up, go ahead and let it out but keep it [...]

Some Alternating Ideas From Minnesota

I recently received an email from Aaron Wheatcraft, who coaches at Rosemount High School in Minnesota, where he coached the 2006 state champion in the 300m intermediate hurdles. Wheatcraft, in his fourth year at Rosemount, ran hurdles himself at Apple Valley High School in MN from 1989-1992, and also at the University of Minnesota from [...]

Keep the Shoulders Low

This article will be a quick one, based on an observation I’ve made over the past few months of watching hurdlers in practice and in indoor meets. While the idea that one must stay relaxed while sprinting and hurdling is nothing new, it usually isn’t very helpful to tell an athlete to “stay relaxed.” The [...]

Back to Basics: Lead with the Knee

  The first thing my coach told me on my first hurdle rep in my first hurdle practice was to lead with the knee of my lead leg. He explained that if I swung the leg from my hip and allowed my foot to lead the way, I would have no control over where that [...]

Practicing the Start

Practicing the start of a race is an art form unto itself. It requires much concentration on the part of the athlete and a hands-on approach from the coach. This article will offer suggestions on how to organize a practice session that emphasizes the start of the race. I will not be giving tips to [...]

The Phases of a High Hurdle Race

Recently I received an email from a coaching friend of mine asking me to discuss the phases of a sprint hurdle race from start to finish. I don’t consider myself an expert on that topic, but I guess I know enough to write an article on it without sounding stupid. So, here goes. Broadly speaking, [...]

More Thoughts about Stride Pattern

In the attempt to further address the never-ending questions about stride pattern in the 400m hurdles, I’ve been looking at footage of some old back-in-the-day races to get a feel for how greats of the past ran the race, and to see what conclusions I could draw from these observations. Before getting into the discussion, [...]

Hooking

One of the more common infractions in the 300/400m hurdles is that of hooking. This violation, which results in a disqualification, occurs when the hurdler’s trail leg swings around the hurdle instead of going over it. Most commonly, hurdlers hook when they’re on the curve, although it has also been known to happen on the [...]

Kevin Watson Hurdling Sequence II

On October 20, 2006, Kevin Watson did another hurdling practice session, this time with spikes on. Again, my student Mason McNair took photos, from which I put together another hurdling sequence. This time, Kevin did what amounted to a hybrid of the Sprinting 5-step workout and the Jean Poquette back-and-forth workout. Like Poquette, we set [...]

Kevin Watson Hurdling Sequence

As some of you already know, I’m working with Kevin Watson this year in his bid to qualify for US Outdoor Nationals in 2007 in the 110m hurdles. Kevin, formerly of UNC-Chapel Hill, has moved to Raleigh to train with me, and we’ve already gotten started on our mission. On October 2, 2006, I had [...]

Xiang Thang

Okay, so I’m looking up the results of the World Athletics Final this past weekend, and after scrolling down past a bunch of stuff about Asafa Powell, Sanya Richards, Jeremy Wariner, Tyson Gay, and all these other non-hurdlers, I finally got down to what I was looking for: the men’s 110m high hurdles. The top [...]

Effortlessness in Hurdling

To achieve the maximum of one’s potential in the hurdles, a hurdler needs to focus on making hurdling feel as easy as possible. The great ones over the years – Edwin Moses, Renaldo Nehemiah, Allen Johnson (and Carl Lewis in the sprints) – looked very relaxed and very fluid in their races. Why is it [...]

Liu Xiang Changes the Whole Game

Liu Xiang’s 12.88 in Lausanne on July 11th, 2006, breaking the old world record of 12.91 held by himself and Colin Jackson, has sent shockwaves through the hurdling world. On a personal level, he instantly made my All-Time Greats list outdated, so now I’ll have to revise the whole thing. More importantly, on a large-scale [...]

Thumbs Up

While there is really no such thing as a quick fix to a technical problem in the hurdles, I have often found that the solution to a correcting a flaw ends up coming in the form of a very minor adjustment. Many times I have found myself amazed at how a minor adjustment can provide [...]

Hurdling Well is Often a Matter of Quickness

There are many physical factors that contribute to a hurdler’s success, the primary ones being speed, power, endurance, flexibility, height, and quickness. While speed is arguably the most significant factor, it is also true that, over the years, the best hurdlers have not necessarily been the best sprinters. Currently, among the top 110m hurdlers in [...]

In the Hurdles, Progress Comes Slowly

Hey man, slow down, slow down. –Radiohead One of the most notable mistakes that many hurdlers make is the mental mistake of growing too frustrated too soon with a lack of progress, believing that if they are trying to improve their technique, then there is no reason why their technique should not be improving, that [...]

Pre-Race Warm-up Routine

An aspect of race preparation that often gets overlooked in regards to its importance is the pre-race warm-up. This article will outline a basic warm-up routine in preparation for the 100/110m hurdles, as that race usually comes before the 300m/400m hurdles in most meets. Warm-up advice for the long hurdles will be included in the [...]

Arnold's Victory at Millrose - a Matter of Technique

At the Millrose Games in New York City last weekend, veteran hurdler Dominique Arnold claimed a victory in the men’s 60m high hurdles over such notables as Joel Brown, Antwon Hicks, and two-time Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell. Although Arnold is a very powerful athlete, his primary strength as a hurdler seems to be his [...]

Touchdown Charts

I found the following touchdown charts in The Science of Hurdling by Brent McFarlane, a Canadian Track and Field coach who specializes in the hurdles. 110 Meter High Hurdles Target TIme Hurdle One Hurdle Two Hurdle Three Hurdle Four Hurdle Five Hurdle Six Hurdle Seven Hurdle Eight Hurdle Nine Hurdle Ten Finish 12.8 2.4 3.4 4.3 5.2 [...]

Hill Running

In addition to doing workouts on the track or on a playing field, another option for hurdlers (and sprinters) is to take to the hills and do some sprinting workouts on different terrain. This article will discuss the benefits of uphill sprinting and downhill sprinting, and provide suggestions for how to incorporate hill workouts into [...]

Eyes on the Crossbar

“Keep your head up, use your eyes, then pursue.” –Joe Paterno In a couple of previous articles on this website, I have discussed the importance of keeping your eyes on the crossbar while hurdling. In this article, I want to clarify and expand upon that point, based on a few observations I’ve picked up on recently. [...]

The Hurdling - High-jump Connection

In the sport of Track & Field, there are many events that are seemingly different on the surface, but go well together for an athlete who has enough talent to excel in more than area. Often, because hurdlers are the only people on a team who know how to hurdle, they are asked to compete [...]

Plyometrics for Hurdlers

by Kevin Watson What routine do you have in your repertoire that will give you an edge on race day? Do you listen to your favorite song exactly five minutes before you hit the track to warm up? Do you look fixedly at yourself in the mirror and say, ” I’m the greatest hurdler alive” [...]

Keep Your Head Up

Keep Your Head Up One mistake that many hurdlers make has to do with how they hold their heads during hurdle clearance. Most hurdlers, it seems, bring their head down so that the dome of their head is facing the next hurdle, and their eyes are looking down, facing the track. In fact, there should [...]

Hurdler Injuries

Although injuries are an aspect of all sports, there are certain injuries that hurdlers are more prone to than others. This article will discuss the types of injuries that are common to hurdlers, what their causes are, how to treat them, and (best-case scenario) how to prevent them from happening in the first place. Areas [...]

Eliminating the Pause

Even some of the very best hurdlers in the world, while negotiating a barrier, will have a moment of pause during hurdle clearance, when the lead leg is on top of the hurdle. This article will discuss the causes of that pause, however obvious or subtle it may be, and discuss ways to eliminate it [...]

Hurdling on the curve in the 400m Hurdles

One of the most difficult aspects of a race for a 400m hurdler to figure out is how to negotiate hurdling on the curve. More stutter-stepping, stumbling, over-striding, and balance issues occur on the second curve than in any other part of the race, probably for the simple fact that there is something fundamentally unnatural [...]

Trail Arm

Just when you think you know everything there is to know, just when you think you have a solution to every possible technical problem in the hurdles, something happens to make you wonder, What have I been doing all these years? Sometimes genius is accidental. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. Like when [...]

Consistent Stride Pattern in the Intermediates?

A while ago, I wrote an article on this website about stride patterns in the intermediate hurdles, and as I’ve watched many races and presided over many practice sessions this past spring and summer, I have developed another philosophy that I want to throw out there as food for thought. It’s not a new idea [...]

Hurdling into the Wind

Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around. –James Taylor With the exception of pole-vaulters, no athletes in the sport of Track & Field are more affected by the wind than hurdlers. I’ve been at meets where I’ve seen pole-vaulters just standing on the runway holding their pole, waiting and hoping [...]

Hurdling Glossary

Below is a list of terms and phrases often used on this website and in the general hurdling vernacular when hurdling people talk about the hurdles. · Lead leg – the first leg to clear the hurdle. · Trail leg – the second leg to clear the hurdle. · Lead arm – the arm on the opposite side of the lead [...]

Recording Touchdown Times

I must admit that I’ve never been one who has been really excited with the idea of recording touchdown times of my hurdlers in either the 110’s/100’s or the 300’s/400’s, particularly with beginning hurdlers. But it is true that as hurdlers grow more experienced and competitive, recording touchdown times, in practice and in races, becomes [...]

Developing Beginning Hurdlers

I’ve received a few emails recently from people asking me about developing beginning hurdlers, so, in this article, I want to spend some time providing some suggestions, particularly to coaches who are new to coaching the hurdles, in regards to how to identify potential hurdlers, and how to go about coaching them in their early [...]

Hitting Hurdles with the Trail-leg Foot

Hitting hurdles with the trail-leg foot is probably the most disconcerting place to hit a hurdle when moving at a high velocity, as it causes the greatest loss of rhythm and balance. Usually, hitting a hurdle with the trail-leg foot causes the hurdler to fall forward, dramatically altering the center of gravity, potentially causing a [...]

Gliding (aka, Hurdlers Don’t Jump)

Not too long ago I was out on the track by myself doing some hurdle drills when a kid who couldn’t have been any more than ten years old walked up to me and said, “you’re a good jumper.” In the flash of a second between his compliment and my response of “thanks,” several thoughts [...]

Solving the Lead Leg Drift

Introduction Of all the technical problems that I’ve encountered as a coach, the one that I’ve found the most difficult to solve is the one in which the lead leg drifts to the trail leg side of the lane as the hurdler clears the hurdle. By the time the lead leg lands, the hips and [...]

From the Starting Blocks to the First Hurdle in the 110m and 100m Hurdles

From the starting blocks to the first hurdle is arguably the most important part of a sprint hurdle race. For 110 and 100m hurdlers, a quick start and smooth clearance of the first hurdle are virtually essential for success, as it is in this part of the race where rhythm is established. Another benefit of [...]

Contact During Races

One of the most annoying, aggravating, and disconcerting things that can happen during a race is to get bumped around by the elbows and forearms of hurdlers to either side of you. This problem most commonly occurs in the men’s 110m hurdles and the women’s 100m hurdles, but can also happen on the final straight-away [...]

To Count or Not to Count in the 300m and 400m Hurdles

Introduction One of the most prominent questions that comes up regarding the longer hurdle race is the question of how to establish and maintain an effective, comfortable, yet challenging stride pattern that will enable the athlete to get the most out of his or her running and hurdling ability. How many strides to the first [...]

To 4-Step or not to 4-Step in the High School Girls 100m Hurdles

For the high school coach, not every girl who tries out for the hurdles is a 5’7”, 12-flat sprinter. Sometimes, the best coaching doesn’t produce champions, but, instead, comes in the form of helping a less talented athlete to get the most out of her ability. Coaching a hard-working athlete who lacks the tremendous physical [...]
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