110 and 100 Meter Hurdles
By Jim Giroux, MF Athletic/PerformBetter
These events and their indoor versions (55 or 60 meters) require athletes to negotiate barriers during a race. Athletes who are successful in these events will have the speed of your top sprinters and often are successful at jumping events, 200 meters and 4x100 meter relay legs. This article will discuss start differences between the sprints and hurdles, takeoff and hurdle clearance, workout variations, drills and training suggestions for different weeks. Because of the short distance to the first hurdle in both the men and women's races athletes need to be in an upright posture sooner than flat sprinters. Let's begin by looking at the start and getting your athletes into the blocks.
In addition to the start sequences described in the long jump article some additional means will be necessary to get athletes to an upright position sooner. Most athletes will take 8 steps to the first hurdle. This will require that their trail leg be in the front of the block. Key points for coaching the start to the first hurdle include getting to an upright position by the fourth or fifth step. The athlete should continue to run through the next to last or penultimate step. In other words, complete push on the ground and allowing the recovery of the leg to the butt (like a regular stride). Keeping this leg folded as long as possible is also a good cue. Athletes will have a tendency to lean before it is necessary. The lean seen in the hurdles is a result of the push from the trail or takeoff leg and should not be seen before the trail leg contacts the ground. Athletes should be as close to sprint mechanics as possible when hurdling. If the trail leg action on the ground is completed correctly, much of the recovery mechanics will be taken care of by stored elastic energy in the hip flexors. The recovery of this leg will be sprint like with the heel recovering very close to the butt of the athlete.
1. Unders Series - Using either a shot put or medicine ball athletes will do the first throw with feet shoulder width apart. They will start with the implement over their head and quickly bend at the waist and lower the implement so it is between their knees. Then they will throw it forward by pushing on the ground and extending their arms. The ball flight should be somewhat parabolic. Allow them to 'chase' or run after the throw as this leads to the next drill. Next have the athlete stand with their feet in a split fashion (like the starting blocks) and repeat the drill. The last sequence is to have them do the drill and run after the throw for four or five steps.
2. Standing Long Jump (SLJ) Series - Start the athletes on the end of the edge of your long jump pit. Do a SLJ. Next drill, do the same but with feet astride, land with feet together. Repeat the astride drill landing with feet astride. Last, move away from the pit and add a run to the astride SLJ. This drill helps connect the push from the blocks with get away steps.
The men's event requires bigger compensatory arm movements to help counter the leg movements. The men will takeoff and land farther from the hurdle and will therefore be in the air longer. Men will also need to maintain their takeoff position (lean) longer than women do. Upon hurdle clearance, there is a need to reaccelerate. This will occur after each clearance. So a good takeoff sets up the ensuing acceleration by leaving the athlete in position to continue. If the takeoff action was poorly executed, the athlete will need to recover from it after during landing.
Watch from the rear that athletes stay in dual track as much as possible. When approaching the hurdle there is a tendency for athletes to plant their takeoff or trail leg in the center of the track. This action not only results in unwanted rotation but usually makes this step too long, resulting in deceleration as well. Watch where the takeoff or trail leg foot contacts the ground. Best case for this action is to have the toe land behind the knee (like pushing at the start). This means the athlete shortened the takeoff step and ran by it as well (little deceleration).
This concept may seem at odds with what you are trying to accomplish. However, keeping hurdle workouts at competition distances will turn practice into a survival situation. These poor technical practices will become what the athlete has to recall when racing. So perfect practice makes perfect. To achieve this in hurdling requires athletes to run at race pace or faster.
How to Discount Hurdle Distances and Heights
These are suggestions only! The low ranges particularly for women will be for beginners. You will have to experiment to determine which distances are appropriate for the athletes you work with. Next are some suggestions for distances when using 5 steps between the hurdles. The standard spacing for a competition race is appropriate but may be to close if you want the athletes to run aggressively between hurdles.
Men 5 Step Between Hurdles Suggestions - 12 meters (39") to 12.5 meters (41.5") Women 5 Step Between Hurdles Suggestions - 11meters (36") to 11.5 meters (37.6") Sample Hurdle Acceleration Workouts
Sample Hurdle Rhythm Workouts
TRAINING WEEK SUGGESTIONS
5 Days, no meets
Tuesday Dynamic Warm up Medicine Ball and/or Plyometrics Shorter Interval Training
Wednesday Dynamic Warm up Hills or Conditioning Circuits Weight Training (if 3 days a week)
Thursday Dynamic Warm up Up to 90% effort accelerations between 30-60 meters Hurdle Circuit (longer than Monday) Pop Overs Hurdle Rhythm Weight Training (if two days a week)
Friday Dynamic Warm up Medicine Ball and/or Plyometrics Longer Interval Training Weight Training (if 3 days a week)
5 Days, 2 Meets
6 Days, 1 meet
- The Science of Hurdling McFarlane
Recommended Athletes' Acceleration Products