Let’s start by setting our objectives. We want to use the mini hurdles to achieve speed objectives. We don’t simply use training tools as a gimmick. For this objective, we are going to look at the speed formula, which is stride rate x stride length.
Stride Rate × Stride Length = Speed
There are 9 inch, 12 inch, and taller hurdles that you can use, but we prefer the 6-inch ones because they help us achieve that objective.
Stride rate and stride length correspond to one another. The fastest way that we can improve the length of an athlete’s stride is to improve the stride rate.
One of my favorite coaching cues is to reference the old roadrunner cartoon. I always ask my athletes, “have you ever seen the roadrunner cartoon’s feet?”They say yes, but I say no. “When it runs, its feet are moving so fast that its feet are a blur.
The point? The mini-hurdles teach and train athletes to have roadrunner feet that look like a blur… and that’s a pretty dang fast skill to have. To this level of agility, is what level I strive for my training sessions to reach.
There are common principles between the mini-hurdles and the ladder exercise. The main principle is if you make a mistake, you must recover with your athleticism instead of stopping halfway through. You must keep moving by placing your feet carefully but being careless if you stumble. The worst thing you can do is stop. Being careful with feet placement doesn’t necessarily mean going slowly because you will not see flawed technique if you practice in slow motion; when you practice it quickly, the coach can tell if the leg turnover, foot strike, and body and arm position are correct. Being careless means being easy on yourself for the mistakes made, but still putting effort into the training of it. In both exercises “go as fast as you can, as correctly as you can, and always slow down to speed up instead of stopping halfway.”
“Go as fast as you can, as correctly as you can.”
“Slow down to speed up instead of stopping halfway.”
Another coaching pointer is teaching athletes how to be quick and light on their feet. The coaching cue reinforces the need for brief contact time between their feet and the ground.
The mini hurdles help with most of the sprint mechanics and posture, especially arm angle and heel lift. We also are developing a better sports posture through the spine. We know that doing the one-step drill can teach a sprinting forward lean that generates more of a turnover. The crossover hurdle and ladder move teaches the correct arm swing and stepping with the foot instead of swinging the leg around and down to the ground. I believe these aspects show the value of mini hurdle training and the importance of making it a regular part of an athlete’s training regime.