Hurdles Specifics Without Hurdles - Using the Lattes
"The athlete who runs quickest
between the hurdles will win"
In a senior sprint hurdles race there are 10 hurdles.
Obviously one of the challenges faced by the coach is
to ensure that the athlete can cross each hurdle with
minimum deviation from the sprinting movement.
What can be forgotten, however, is the contribution
of other elements such as the approach to the first
hurdle, the strides between the hurdles, and the dash
to the finish line.
One can work hard on the hurdling technique but there
are only ten opportunities here. There are, however,
forty one other opportunities to improve performance.
This should be addressed alongside hurdling technique.
Movement skill break down:-
o Start to hurdle first hurdle (8)
o Movement over hurdles (10)
o Strides between hurdles (27)
o Last hurdle to the finish (6)
So as can be seen, movement over the hurdle represents
only part of the picture regarding hurdle development.
You can see the challenges presented to tall female
sprint hurdlers, they will find the intervals between
just too easy. The problem is that, as the athlete progresses
down the track, the dynamics change due to increased
speed, then increased levels of fatigue. This all stresses
the Central Nervous System (CNS). The athlete must posses
the ability to move long limbs at a high rate.
The Central Nervous System is the engine governing the
rate and order of the muscle contraction. The CNS will
be developed by regular high-speed cadence work using
how do we improve this ability?
Lattes can be used to great effect here. These are simply
sticks of approximately 50cm in length. I had mine painted
luminous yellow so that they could be clearly seen on
all training surfaces.
When you take in to account take-off and landing distances
the male sprint hurdler is required to execute a three
stride rhythm with-in a parameter of 6 meters. The female
sprint hurdler currently is required to achieve this
with-in around 5.90m. Remember
that each coaching situation varies according to the
capacities of the athletes, facilities and the awareness
of the coach.
quote my work with an athlete who is 1.92m tall.
Less is more
off with we worked out what length the athlete’s
maximum velocity stride length was, then placed the
lattes at 2cm narrower than this value. This was not
specific to the short fast strides required in hurdling
but represented a safe starting point from which the
athlete can start to sense the slightly more rapid stride
Gradually over several months we set out the lattes
at a narrower spacing until the point of overload was
reached. This means that the athlete was performing
way out of the comfort zone and was often unable to
complete a full run with out the stride length going
Running mechanics related to the athlete you coach.
The taller the athlete the more their stride obeys the
laws of acceleration mechanics between the hurdles.
This is characterised by the heels remaining low throughout
the three strides and throughout the race. You simply
need to look at the German record holder Florian Schwarthoff
to see this. It is for this reason that it is a misconception
to think that the really tall athletes are easier to
coach. The tall athletes are far more difficult to coach
because of the in-built resistance of the long legs.
You can contrast Colin Jackson to see that his stride
progresses more towards maximum velocity mechanics.
We initially set out one latte per footfall. However
after the initial learning phase we needed more distance
so we established one latte per for every four footfalls.
So, assuming that the stride length to be achieved is
2m, then lattes would be placed every eight meters-more
realistic to running between the hurdles. We were using
training distances of up to 80m with a run up of 20-30m.This
is a big ask on an athlete’s central nervous system
so we had to ensure quality at all times.
To increase motivation and competitiveness, the coach
can time from the athlete’s first footfall within
the lattes to he last footfall. This can be done when
the athlete has established good competence in terms
of technique and leg speed.
Should you wish to contact me regarding any questions
you may have regarding the above article please do so
at the e-mail address below.