Less Is More With The Arm Action When Hurdling
Hurdling is sprinting interrupted by barriers. In clearing the barriers, a young athlete should aim to alter their sprinting action as little as possible and then quickly return to their sprinting action as soon as possible after clearing a hurdle.
The athlete’s arm action is crucial. When properly controlled, it will aid the maintenance of a compact, balanced action as the athlete approaches, clears and runs away from a hurdle.
Attend To The Lead Arm Action
While sprinting, a young athlete’s hands should not cross the midline of their body. The same goes for when they are above a hurdle. It is, however, common to see kids throw their lead arm and hand way over the body’s midline. In fact, when observed from behind, it is not uncommon to see a young athlete’s lead hand appear above their opposite shoulder. This can cause an over-rotation of the upper body and torso, turning it away from the running direction. In reaction, the lower body will also twist, but in the opposite direction, causing all sorts of problems to forward momentum and balance, particularly when touching down on the far side of the hurdle.
A much less exaggerated lead arm action, during which the lead hand remains on its side of the midline is preferable.
Learning The Lead Arm Action
As indicated above, a hurdler’s lead arm action should deviate as little as possible from their sprinting arm action. It needs to do just enough – a lifting of the upper arm and elbow to the side, and a turning over of the hand and forearm – to balance the lift and drive of the lead leg, and to allow enough of a gap to bring the trail leg through to the front. It then needs to settle back quickly into a sprinting arm action.
Quality rehearsal is often the answer when ingraining a skill:
1. Mirror Drills
Young athletes can rehearse their arm action in from of a mirror or other reflective surface, keeping watch that the lead arm does not cross the midline of the body
2. Hurdles Drills
The arm action can be rehearsed at a slower pace when performing walking, stepping or skipping drills past or over the hurdles. Try straddling hurdles over a lane line so that the middle of the hurdle is directly over the line. Young athletes can work on preventing their lead arm from crossing the line.
Over To You!
Keep an eye on young athletes’ lead arm action in the hurdles. Watch that it doesn’t cross the body’s midline. If you have any coaching cues or drills that you have found effective for developing the lead arm action, let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details listed 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.