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 leg.
· Trail arm – the arm on the opposite side of the trail leg.
· Snapdown – the motion of driving the lead leg back to the ground after hurdle clearance.
· Buck – the act of bringing down the lower back as the lead leg knee drives upward into hurdle clearance.
· Lean – same as buck. The key is to lean from the lower back, not the upper back.
· Dive – another term for buck, or lean.
· Chest over thigh – same as buck, lean, or dive, but it’s a different way of conceptualizing the motion. Instead of thinking about leaning from the back, the focus is on bringing the chest down over the thigh, keeping the chin up.
· Unitize – the act of synchronizing the lead leg and trail leg so that the hurdle motion is one continuous motion, with no break at the top of the crossbar.
· Roll the hips – the act of rotating the hips forward and upward during take-off into the hurdle, so the hurdler has the feeling of looking down on the hurdle.
· Pulling the toes – keeping the toes pulled upward so that each step lands on the ball of the foot.
· Dorsi-flexion – same as pulling the toes, except dorsi-flexion focuses on the ankle.
· Jump – a four-letter word in hurdle language. Jump implies elevation, and hurdlers don’t want to elevate. They want to be as horizontal as possible in their flight over the hurdle.
· Glide – same as jump. Hurdlers who glide spend too much time in the air instead of snapping their lead leg down.
· Float – same as jump and glide.
· Lead with the knee – the act of driving the knee of the lead leg at the crossbar, as opposed to swinging up the whole leg from the hip. Leading with the knee is essential for balance in hurdle clearance.
· Pull the trail leg through – the act of driving up the trail leg in a tight motion underneath the armpit of the lead arm.
· Locking out – the act of locking the lead leg knee or lead arm elbow, which causes imbalance in hurdle clearance.
· Attack mode – act of approaching the hurdle with an aggressive posture – chin up, knees high, on balls of the feet.
· Lazy toe – the act of dipping the toe of the trail leg during hurdle clearance, causing the toe to hit the barrier as the trail leg clears. Keeping the ankle dorsi-flexed will prevent this problem.
· Balance – basically means being able to run in a straight line to the hurdle and through the hurdle, without any swaying from side-to-side in the lane.
· Cadence – the tempo at which the feet strike the ground.
· Rhythm – the ability to synchronize one’s cadence with one’s speed, so that hurdling feels like a dance.
· Fluidity – the ability to maintain a smooth, uninterrupted motion over the hurdle, and also while transitioning into the hurdle, and off of the hurdle.
· Touchdown – the point at which the lead-leg foot touches down off of the hurdle.
· Chopping – taking short, inefficient strides between the hurdles.
· Over-striding – reaching for long strides between the hurdles, causing the foot to land way too far ahead of the hips.
· Cut step – a 110/100h term applied to the first step after hurdle clearance, when the trail leg drops for a short quick step, giving the hurdler rooom to take two longer, fast sprinting strides into the next hurdle.

· Double-arm – a style of hurdling popularized by Rodney Milburn in the 1970’s that is no longer commonly used, in which both arms thrust forward during hurdle clearance. This technique helps to initiate the dive into the hurdle, but inhibits the lifting of the lead-leg knee.

© 2005 Steve McGill

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