Hurdles, a popular track and field event, is the act of sprinting over a series of barriers. The most difficult thing about learning to hurdle is coordinating the correct rhythm and sequence for clearing the lead leg and then the trailing leg over the hurdle. The movement must be as quick and seamless as possible in order for the hurdler to continue sprinting without having to slow down and readjust his body movements. Training children to hurdle will require patience and repetition.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- 4 46-centimeter (1 foot, 6 inches) hurdles
- Running track
- Sturdy wall
- Electrical or coloured tape
Exercise the lead leg by having the athlete stand four of their own feet away from a solid wall. Have the child stand on the take-off foot and lean on his toes toward the wall, bringing his knee up and then snapping the rest of the lead leg up to a point on the wall marking the height of the child's hurdle height plus 10 inches. Mark this exact spot using electrical or coloured tape, and have the child strive to put his lead foot on this space each time he practices this exercise. Most young runners lead with the right leg, but this may not always be the case. To decide which leg should be the lead leg, have the child sprint and pretend to hurdle without an actual hurdle in place. Have him do this several times and observe the leading leg. Be sure to train the child to lead with the leg that is most comfortable for him, but to consistently use that leg as the lead leg once the decision is made.
To practice trail leg movement, have the athlete stand five of their own feet away from the wall and lean towards it, holding herself by her fingertips. Have the child pull the trailing leg up, bent at the knee, and out to the side in a circular motion before placing it back down on the ground. This exercise will teach the proper movement of the trail leg over the hurdle.
Set up four hurdles on the track. Ideally, there should be 11 meters from the starting line to the first hurdle, and eight meters between each hurdle. Have the athlete run the hurdles, being sure to concentrate on running with high knees rather than running, pausing and jumping. Running with high knees will allow the athlete to run and clear the hurdle without pausing.
Allow athletes to find their own personal running rhythm by sprinting and listening to the rhythm of their footfalls. Appropriate hurdling footfalls should sound like a constant patter, rather than a rhythmic patter with a pause for the hurdle. Effective hurdlers are those that can clear the hurdle with a minimum amount of time spent in the air.
Tips and warnings
- Hurdlers should practice sprinting without hurdling in order to get their running rhythm correct.
- Be sure children stretch and warm up their muscles before beginning any training or exercise program.
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