Perhaps the most often common technical error made by
hurdlers is the position of the lead arm/hand (opposite to the lead/front foot)
during hurdle clearance. The hand is usually out someplace in never, never land,
allowing the lead arm/shoulder to drift to a position where it goes behind the
hip. This in turn throws the body out of alignment, causing the lead foot to
land more toward the trail leg side of the lane. The athlete then has to recover
back to the center of the lane. This results in a loss in speed and time at
- Hurdle races are sprint events, not jumping events. You "run" over the
hurdles. There should be a very small change in the location of the body's COM
(center of mass) when clearing a hurdle.
- At the beginning of the take-off, the knee must be driven toward the
hurdle and the foot then extended. The knee should be slightly bent when
crossing the hurdle. Unless your body has great flexibility, the knee must be
slightly bent to allow a forward body lean.
- Don't "hook" the foot around the side of the hurdle.
- The lead foot/toe is kept dorsiflexed.
- At take-off, the head should be raised with the eyes focusing on the next
hurdle. During clearance, the head should not rise above normal sprint
- "Snap-down" is initiated as soon as the heel of the lead foot reaches the
top of the hurdle.
- To quickly return to sprint form at touchdown, a forward lean must be
maintained over the hurdle.
- Lead arm should be at eye level at take-off.
- When crossing the hurdle, the lead arm must be bent with the hand/fist
coming to a position directly in front of the face with the arm parallel to
the thigh of the lead leg. The arm/elbow should be bent at about 120 degrees.
This position helps to prevent an off-balance landing.
- The trail leg must be kept bent and short to provide a quick lever action
allowing a fast hurdle clearance. The knee should pull through under the
armpit and should not be flat across the top of the hurdle.
- There are only two ways to improve hurdling speed. One is to improve
hurdle clearance efficiency and the other is to increase stride frequency.
- Shoulders must be kept level and parallel to the top of the hurdle.
- If you take an even number of strides from the blocks to the first hurdle,
then the lead leg should be positioned in the rear block. The preferred number
of strides is eight. If an odd number of strides is used, then the trail leg
will be positioned in the rear block.
- During accelerating from the blocks, when the point two strides from the
hurdle is reached, the body must have transitioned from the acceleration
leaning condition to a "standing tall" running form.
- In the short hurdles, hold the breath from the start until the top of the
first hurdle is reached, then blow out and breathe.
CONTINUOUS TRAIL LEG
This drill is accomplished by standing beside a hurdle and skipping with the
lead leg and clearing the hurdle with the trail leg. This can be done on every
skip or every third skip.
While standing in front of a barrier such as a wall of fence, snap the lead
leg out and drive the foot into the barrier.
While standing beside a hurdle and facing the hurdle, move the lead foot/leg
back and forth over the hurdle. Concentrate on standing tall, keeping the
stomach and butt tight and the lead foot dorsiflexed.
KARATE KID KICKS
Start by learning to hop while extending and holding the lead leg in the
hurdling position. Once this is mastered, hop, kick/extend the lead leg and step
over the hurdle.
Do a slow jog and hold the hands at chest height in the open palms down
position. While in this position, drive the lead knee up and slap it with the
open hand. Then do it on a 1-2 count with both knees. Once this action has been
learned, do it with a slight lean and with the feet dorsiflexed. Then progress
to where the action can be accomplished when going over a
Some "winter time" drills for the hurdler-
- Lengthen the distance from the start line to the first hurdle by from four
to eight meters, creating a ten or twelve stride approach. This will allow for
a greater build-up of speed in the approach. The same can be done in the
- Change the spacing between the hurdles to provide either a five or seven
These two should be combined, with the emphasis on attacking the first hurdle
and continuing with a fast, strong rhythm.
- Alternate the spacing from three to five strides. The normal hurdle
spacing might be reduced slightly on the three stride segments.
- In the intermediate hurdles, have an even/odd number of strides on
alternate segments. This will teach the body to use alternate lead leg action.
These drills require the athlete to concentrate fully while using full power. Doing these drills will make the hurdler stronger, faster and more proficient.
Recommended Resources UK
Recommended Resources USA
SPECIFIC FLEXIBILITY IN THE HURDLES
Reflections on a change in the height of the hurdles in the women's sprint hurdles event
400-Meter Hurdle Theory
Components Of The 400m Hurdles
THE SHORT HURDLES PAGE - DEVELOPMENT OF ELITE HURDLERS: ASSESSMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL ATHLETE
LINK TO LONG HURDLES PAGE
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SPRINT HURDLES
Hurdling_abstracts: DEVELOPMENT OF THE SPRINT HURDLES