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Sprint Hurdle Drills

The purpose of these drills is to help develop the athlete's hurdling technique. Some of the drills may also be included in the more experienced athlete's warm up program for training and competition.

Training drills

Stride Pattern

Set up 6-10 cones, so that the athlete can take 7-8 strides to the first cone and then three strides between each. Focus on an uninterrupted sprint with 7 strides to the first cone followed by a 3 stride pattern between the cones. Make a note of the distances between the cones for future sessions.

Hurdle Walking

The athlete performs the full hurdling skill at a walking pace over six or eight low hurdles set at approx. one metre spacing.

  • Stand approx. half a metre from the first hurdle
  • Pick the lead knee up very high
  • Place the lead leg vertically down on the other side of the hurdle. The lower part of the leg should not reach out in front of the body.
  • Bring the knee of the trail leg out to the side to above hip height with the foot cocked to clear the hurdle
  • Bring the trail knee across the hurdle
  • As the trail knee clears the hurdle bring the knee up and to the front centre of the body
  • Place the trail leg vertically down on the other side of the hurdle. The lower part of the leg should not reach out in front of the body.
  • Repeat the action with the new trail leg
  • Keep the hips high throughout the action.
  • Good range of arm movement.

Trail Leg Isolation Drill

This particular exercise is designed to work only the trailing leg. Use six to eight hurdles set initially at a lower than normal race height. The drill can be done using three strides or one stride between close spaced hurdles.

The athlete first performs the exercise by walking down the side of the flight of hurdles taking only the trailing leg over the hurdle. The lead leg must go past the line of the hurdle before the trail leg is used.

Once the drill has been mastered at a walking pace, it can then be conducted at a faster pace.

The hips are kept high throughout and the eyes should look ahead at the next hurdle. There should be a good range of arm movement, with the opposite arm leading the action.

Quality of execution is more important than the speed it is conducted.

Lead Leg Isolation Drill

This particular exercise is designed to work only the leading leg. Use six to eight hurdles set initially at a lower than normal race height. The drill can be done using three strides between close spaced hurdles. This drill is performed along side the hurdle and should be conducted at a jogging pace.

The athlete attacks the hurdle in the normal way but only takes the lead leg across it. The trailing leg trails alongside the hurdle.

There should be a good range of arm movement, with the opposite arm leading the action. The hips are kept high throughout and the eyes should look ahead at the next hurdle.

Quality of execution is more important than the speed it is conducted at.

Speed Training Drills

The following drills can be used to improve the various aspects of hurdling speed.

  • Reduce the distance between the hurdles. This will work particularly on leg speed between the hurdles and will simulate the effects of a tail wind. The normal pattern of three strides between the hurdles should be maintained
  • Increase the approach to the first hurdle. Instead of using the usual 7 or 8 stride approach this should be extended to 12 or 13 strides
  • Increase the distance between the hurdles and increase the number of strides between the hurdles. Spacing should allow 5 or 7 fast strides. The actual spacing will have to be worked out for each individual athlete. This type of work ensures that the athlete is moving faster at the hurdle than normal
  • Lower the hurdles. This enables the athlete to work on the rhythm between the hurdles and on leg speed
  • Remove hurdle 5 or 6 from the full set of 10. The athlete will use a normal stride pattern up to the gap, 7 strides in the gap and a fast normal pattern for the rest of the run. This enables the athlete to simulate the leg speed and clearance speed of the final four or five hurdles
  • Increase the number of hurdles. Sprint hurdlers should occasionally train over 11 or even 12 hurdles at normal spacing

Rules of Competition

The competition rules for this event can be obtained from:


Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Sprint Hurdle Drills [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/hurdles/drills.htm [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • How to Teach Track Events, M. Arnold
  • Sprinting and Hurdling, Peter Warden