Stop Young Athletes Stuttering to the First Hurdle
Young athletes need to be able to run fast, aggressively and unhesitatingly to and over the first hurdle in a race.
However, many young athletes slow down, hesitate and stutter, trying to avoid being “wrong-footed”. Or they clear the hurdle awkwardly with their non-preferred leg, often landing off balance or even hitting the hurdle. This then affects their ability to get to the second hurdle. Not a great start!
I have heard of young athletes struggling with this issue for years and trying multiple solutions – bigger strides, smaller strides, faster strides; BUT there is one amazingly quick and simple solution that works practically every time:
Switch the foot they have forward at the start.
It makes sense – if an athlete is continuously “wrong-footed'” to the first hurdle, having them swap feet when at the start should fix this immediately; and yes it does!
The result can be stunning. Suddenly an athlete who has lacked confidence in getting to the first hurdle runs to and clears the hurdle without hesitation.
Some athletes may feel a bit awkward at first when trying to start with their other foot forward, but they will soon be sold on the idea when they realize the result that it has.
Suggesting that an athlete swaps their foot position at the start is one of the quickest, easiest and most reliable solutions to a problem that you will come across as an athletics coach.
NOTE: I am a big believer in teaching young athletes to be able to lead over a hurdle comfortably with either leg. However, many athletes can’t do this or will always maintain a preferred lead leg.
Let me know if this works for you!
I would love to hear if you have success using this very simple tip.Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details below.
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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.