I have a male second year collegiate athlete (6’2″ 200lb. Squats 400lbs.) that is getting too close to the first hurdle in eight steps. We have considered trying a seven step approach but think that is a last resort. Currently, he is trying four initial power strides out of the blocks and four chopped steps. This works OK in practice but often times breaks down in competition due to excitement etc. Any suggestions?
The vast majority of sub 14 hurdlers go 8 steps. 7 or 8 is just a matter of reps and discipline. Set up markers and work him toward hitting each step at the right line.
In my experience – A quicker and tighter lead leg knee drive allows a takeoff closer to hurdle.
IMO the easiest way to correct for this is to instruct him to pick up the frequency right out of the blocks. This will create less disruption to his acceleration pattern than chopping and should set him up for the quick rythym needed between the hurdles. If executed correctly, touchdown time to the first hurdle should remain fairly constant. I would invest considerable time in working out the 8 step start before attempting the 7 steps. I just don’t believe most hurdlers can transition to the proper rythm needed between the hurdles with a 7 step start.
Way late :red: but I think Brendon’s thought about the acceleration pattern is a pretty good start.
I am not entirely certain foot placement of each stride must be quite as precise as some studies suggest [they do need to be close or a very small range] but want athletes to feel that it is a smooth and hard acceleration that really continues right through the hurdle…the difficulty could be splitting those 8 strides to the first into 2 fairly distinct types of “action”.
It will be “OK” in practice since, as you suspect, there is a less pressure/excitement but in a way (?) it also means there is another point that will need to be hit somewhat exact [where the first of those chopped strides happens relative to the TO point, so that the last two before take off can be consistent]. “Chopping” if too deliberate can be subconsciously interpreted as “wrong” since it is [a] somewhat counter intuitive, in the extreme not a very natural action, [c] really worst case: brain views it as a prelude to braking (which is exactly the one thing you don’t want).
Flipping that pattern, if absolutely needed, could be more workable since the last four strides in would then be more of a natural running action. And, if stretched, “chopping” can describe those shorter pushes out of the blocks.
Out of curiosity, how much of a shuffle does this athlete use between the hurdles? Or does he just use a smaller/shorter cyclical action made to fit the spacing? Point there being almost everything is a compromise.
You may have to go looking for unique solution(s) suited to the individual to solve the issue…for me the jury is still out on 7 strides [with possible exception of those very near the top of the world more a strength and high level experience issue to me and at that level they will usually have both]
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