Ideas for Coaching the 200, 300 & 400m Hurdles
The circular hurdles events (200m, 300m, 400m) suit young athletes who possess both speed and endurance, good coordination and plenty of mental toughness. While a decent hurdling technique is important, it is probably less critical than it is in the shorter sprint hurdles.
These events are interesting to coach as there is a huge variety of fun and challenging drills and exercises available to use with young athletes.
Particular aims for young athletes training for the circular hurdles include developing:
- A rhythm and feel for space.
- The ability to confidently lead over the hurdle with either leg.
- The ability to change rhythm/the lead leg without loss of speed between the hurdles.
- A fast hurdles crossing.
- An active continuation of the run after clearing the hurdle.
- Fast running between the hurdles.
Five tips for developing the above abilities in training include:
1. Perform Drills on the Bends
Take some of the lead leg, trail leg and hurdle clearance drills that you would usually perform on the straight track onto the bends so that the athletes become used to performing hurdling skills on a curve. Always practice leading and trailing with both sides of the body.
2. Run Over Hurdles of Varying Distances and/or Heights
Set up hurdles at random distances and heights on the straight and/or bend. Ask the athletes to navigate the course while maintaining speed and rhythm. This can be a lot of fun and there are endless combinations of distances and heights that can be used. Involve the athletes in setting up a challenging circuit. Athletes can take turns in determining the hurdle placement and height, or depending on the number of athletes in the group, each athlete can be responsible for the positioning and height of one hurdle in the circuit. You can vary the number of hurdles used and the total distance covered.
3. Place Hurdles at a Distance That Encourages an Alternating Lead Leg
For example, an 8-9 metre gap between the hurdles will usually lead to four relaxed strides between the hurdles for a young athlete and therefore the need to switch lead legs. The coach can experiment with the best distance between the hurdles to achieve this. Perform this drill on the straight and/or bend, varying the number of hurdles used. The coach may also set up the hurdles for six strides, eight strides, etc.
4. Run Over Hurdles That Are Placed Progressively Further Apart
For example, set up the hurdles so that the second hurdle is four running strides from the first hurdle, the next hurdle is six strides further on and the last hurdle is eight strides after that. The athletes aim to clear the hurdles smoothly and without hesitation. Similarly the coach could organise the opposite situation where the hurdles get progressively closer together.
5. Approach and Clear a Hurdle from Random Distances
Perform acceleration runs from various starting points from a hurdle, regardless of which lead leg has to be used. A similar exercise involves the athlete jogging away from a hurdle and on a signal, turning and sprinting to clear the hurdle without hesitation.
These are just a few of the ideas that can be used. The circular hurdles can be a huge amount of fun for both the coach and the athlete due to the opportunity that the events present for both variety and creativity of training.
What is for favourite tip or drill for coaching circular hurdles?
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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.