Track: Teach Hurdle Timing for the Steeplechase

Track: Teach Hurdle Timing for the Steeplechase

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

Unlike most other hurdling events, runners in the steeplechase don't know in advance which leg will be forward when they reach the barriers. As a result, they must decide upon a lead leg before reaching each steeple.

Ideally, they should make this decision several meters away, so, if necessary, they can make subtle changes in stride length instead of wasting energy by chopping their stride or overstriding at the last second.

Stride Adjustment Exercises
You can use warmups to develop the ability of your steeplechasers to judge their lead leg. Place a number of low hurdles or sticks randomly around the track and have your runners jog over them as they run warmup laps. Instruct them to focus on these low barriers as they approach, and to smoothly adjust their stride pattern so they clear the barrier without chopping or over-extending their stride.

They can incorporate similar drills into their normal distance runs. Have them spot a crack in the pavement, a stick on a path or a sidewalk curb, and pretend it's a steeple barrier that they must clear smoothly. After a while, the ability to adjust their strides and decide on a lead leg well in advance of the barrier will become very natural.

This exercise is also valuable for 400m hurdlers—especially those who have yet to establish a stride pattern between hurdles.

Dick Moss (Editor), Physical Education Update.

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