Running Hurdles

As part of your PE curriculum, one option is to learn about the different track events.  Most people already know how to run, and kids quickly realize that they’ll sprint short distances, but keep to a slower pace when running a whole mile.  Hurdles are completely different, and it takes both instruction and practice to hurdle well.

The first thing to note is that racers run  hurdles; they do not jump  hurdles.  Hurdles are a sprint.

This is a skill,  so the typical methods of learning skills are applicable.  First race over lines drawn on the ground, working on stride.  Next introduce drills that will teach muscle memory so the legs know what to do.  After that, race over a few very low obstacles (boxes or pillows should suffice), combining striding and hurdling techniques already practiced in isolation.  Gradually increase the obstacle height.  I recommend building your own hurdle so you’re not constantly jumping over boxes.

Following is a great video for beginning hurdlers:

It would be appropriate to do steps 1 & 2 from this video, then practice some leading leg drills and trailing leg drills.  After those drills, go back and repeat step 2 before proceeding to step 3.

Good Drills – links to video:

Summary of ideal technique from IAAF’s hurdle guide:

  • 8 strides between starting line and first hurdle
  • 3 strides between hurdles
    • short-long-short
    • first step is aggressive
    • run on balls of the feet
    • body position big & tall
  • hurdle
    • Take-off – well in front of the hurdle
  • Clearance
    • Leading leg
      • knee comes up
      • end of leading leg (below knee) extended forward
      • foot of leading leg flexed

    hurdle straight lead leg hurdlefront

    • shoulders parallel to the hurdle
    • Trailing leg
      • knee up
      • leg drawn alongside body
      • thigh parallel to the ground/hurdle
      • toe up, foot flexed (dragging toes will catch the hurdle)


    • Arms
      • reach opposite arm toward leading toe
    • Landing
      • on ball of foot
      • body leans forward
      • trailing leg pulls forward quickly and contacts the ground briefly

In my head, I think “hurdle, land, one two three, hurdle, land, one two three…


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