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St. Augustine Head Coach and 2004 USA Olympic Head Coach, George Williams, uses 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Bershawn “Batman” Jackson to show you a drill that helps improve the lead leg and knee drive. Coach Jackson explains the importance of marks on the hurdle and how they keep the hurdler inside and tight over the hurdles.
Setup: Place 4 hurdles in a row and have the athlete use the lead leg to step over the hurdle. Bring the trail leg over the hurdle, close to the chest and continue over the next hurdles without stopping. Coach Williams emphasizes the importance of making sure the body is straight during the drill.
After a general warm-up, specific drills for event groups can be added in. From the World Class 300/400 Hurdles DVD with Coach George Williams from St. Augustine University, and World Champion, Bershawn Williams, see demonstration of Coordination and Trail Leg Drills.
While this film is a hurdler instruction video, these drills can be used also by sprinters and distance runners to aid in flexibility and to strengthen the hip areas. Stress is placed on balance, form, and proper body position (upright and on the ball of the foot). Depending on the age, development and height of the athlete you can vary the height on the hurdle and even use age group hurdles if needed.
The film opens with a description of the warm-up and stretching routine that Bershawn Jackson uses. Coach George Williams is very direct in his approach to needs of warming up and stretching. In an event as demanding on the body as hurdling is, warming up and stretching not only prepares the body for hurdling, but also protects the body from injury.
After your athletes are warmed up and ready, Bershawn Jackson then demonstrates a number of drills. There are a number of reasons for using drills with hurdles. It teaches proper technique, it develops specific strength and form, and it teaches hurdlers to use both legs in hurdling. Coach Williams stresses that the ability to use both legs is a key to successful long hurdling. You will need to adapt each drill for your individual athletes, as Coach Williams shows. The Hip Flex Drill is an example of this.
Mechanics in hurdling make the difference between the champion hurdler and those that are merely contenders. Coach Williams addresses the need to coach both legs as lead legs, and to develop an active trail leg. He also includes visual cues that the coach needs to see and how to address what you are seeing with your athlete to develop proper form.
All the drills in the world won’t help without a plan to develop your hurdlers. Coach Williams addresses how to develop a seasonal plan, for both a high school coach, where your work will mainly be in season, and also for a college coach who will have his hurdlers year round. Developing both endurance and speed are the keys to successful mid-distance hurdling, while also keeping in mind that your hurdlers are individuals and no one program is going to fit them all. The art of coaching is finding what works for each athlete.