I wanted to thank you again for responding to this post and providing justification for when you feel training over regulation hurdles is warranted at your practices.
And unlike a couple coaches I know who use regulation hurdles exclusively at practice – you also adjust the heights and spacings as needed (including one at the college level who I may end up locking horns with). And no, I have no idea why any coach would be reluctant to discount hurdles in practice…nor why he’d want to run a girl over 10 of them – but he does (sorry…venting here).
And while I agree that regulation hurdles (spaced & height) represent the most specific form of training – I’m inclined to believe this is primarily true in a race/meet setting (and I account for meets/races as practices in my training plan). This is when I feel the adrenaline and intensity are the highest – something I just don’t feel I can get in a practice setting very often. So to emulate this – I feel I need to discount the hurdles. Maybe if I had two hyper competitive 14 second guys…and wanted to work on race modeling. Sadly…I don’t.
Regarding trail leg mechanics – I guess I’ve yet to have a boy master the trail leg over 36″ hurdles at practice – so I’m hesitant to move them up to 39″ to focus on the nuances created by the extra 3″ of height. Again, I don’t have any 14 or 15 second boy hurdlers (although I have one who hopefully will dip into the 15’s this season if things go well) – so my guys may not be as advanced as yours. If I had a 13-14 second stud who was excellent over 36’s – but had some issues in races at 39’s – then I can see the possible benefit. Oh, to have such a problem 🙂
For girls – I still struggle to see any advantage of raising the hurdles to 33″ during our practices. I have coached a 14 second girl – but like all the other girl’s I’ve coached – she still had excessive hurdle clearance in races over the 33’s. But again, that may be just the girls I’ve coached.
I spend most of my time trying to get a vertical shin angle on the takeoff foot vs. posting the foot in front of the knee. So I need to move the hurdles in to keep them from reaching for their touchdown spot at practice when velocities are slower (and strides tend to be shorter) than in a race.
First rule I teach the kids – “we run hurdles” not “jump hurdles” 🙂
Still – I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Gave me some food for thought.
I have seen other coaches go over 7+ hurdles in speed work which just boggles me. If it works for them more power to them but it doesn’t fit in my philosophy. I also try to pit kids at a similar level against each other. I think this is where regular spacing works the best. I think friendly rivalries are healthy for the kids, especially if they don’t face a strong hurdling squad every week. For the trail leg I think the regular spacing is more important than the height, and height is more important for the lead leg. I have found some of my hurdlers struggle with higher heights if we raise them up. Fortunately I walked into a great situation with the team I started coaching this year. I have a hurdler that should go 14, another that should go high 15 and (hopefully) sub 40, plus an amazing array of talent. My hardest task is convincing girls to hurdle, though this team is built to do well for a number of years.