Try This Fun Hurdles Game With Young Athletes
Isn’t it great when you have an activity that you know will be a “sure-fire” winner with young athletes whenever you use it?
Below I share one of my all-time favourite athletics games that over many years has been a guaranteed hit with groups of young athletes in a range of coaching clinic situations.
The Hurdles Shuttle Relay is a shuttle relay race between teams where each athlete runs a hurdles section in one direction and a sprints section in the other direction.
- Two hurdles per team (soft training hurdles or similar preferred) set at an appropriate height for the age group and skill of the athletes.
- Ground markers – enough to clearly mark the starting points for each team at each end of the relay course.
If using an athletics track, place the hurdles in every second lane at correct competition distance for the athletes. (i.e. For Little Athletics Australia 60m hurdles runners, hurdles will be placed at 12m and 19m from the start line). Place another marker at 26m where the third hurdle would usually be. Ensure that a clear lane separates each hurdles lane. The number of lanes that you set up will be determined by the number of teams that you organise.
Organise the teams into a traditional shuttle relay formation however each team occupies two lanes. Half of each team will line up behind the starting line of a lane occupied by hurdles and the other half of the team will line up behind the markers 26m away in the adjacent lane (without the hurdles), facing their teammates.
Conduct the relay in a similar way to a traditional shuttle relay, but the athletes hurdle when in the hurdles lane and sprint when in the clear lane.
- I do not allow the athletes to carry a relay baton during this relay as I feel that this would be unsafe when hurdling. In this relay a “changeover” occurs when the runner passes their teammate who will be waiting to run in the adjacent lane.
- Ensure that all hurdles are set up to fall away from the approaching runners. Do not allow athletes to hurdle back over the hurdles in the wrong direction, i.e. the sprint section of the relay.
I usually conduct this relay for a time period (e.g. one minute). Whichever team is leading at the one-minute mark is determined the winner. Conducting the relay in this way easily solves the problem of uneven teams.
Do you have a favourite hurdles game?
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.