I’d been bamboozled by my high school coach, that had encouraged me to run track as a sophomore by informing me I’d simply be a jumper. “You’ll continue to be in form for football,” that said. But when we got off the bus for a meet against Flint Northwestern, he told me I’d be running the hurdles.

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I had never operation over a hurdle before, yet I had consumed two roast beef sandwiches ~ above the bus drive down. What can possibly go wrong?

That day ns learned a few things: first, i was a nice lousy jumper; second, the 300-meter hurdles is just about the hardest race that exist at the high college level; and also third, roast beef sandwiches taste a lot far better on the means down than they perform on the way up. Ns hope friend never need to learn that last lesson the way I did.

I eventually ended up being a decent sufficient hurdler end the next couple of years, however that an initial race to be doomed indigenous the start. And also while my lack of experience and also belly complete of beef were definitely contributing factors, there to be another: I had no plan.

My endure was no unique. In 16 year of coaching the 300-meter hurdles, i have learned the most kids have no plan. They definitely don’t have one that they’ve emerged on their very own (or, if lock do, chances are it’s trash). Part don’t even have one that was offered to castle by your coaches. Others have actually been given a plan, but they nothing follow it out of fear of the race, forgetfulness, or the one-of-a-kind confidence in your own nonexistent expertise that just a high schooler can have.

I’ve seen children with gorgeous an approach over the hurdles get eaten alive by children whose form was trivial at best since they ran the phases v purpose, claims
TrackCoachTG. Click come Tweet

So, stop talk around plans. I desire to share v you a 300-meter hurdle version that has functioned for me and also for the athletes I have actually coached. I won’t talk much about hurdling mechanics in this piece. Hurdling method is certainly important, yet not nearly as crucial in the 300 together it is in the 100/110. However even an ext than that, i have seen youngsters with gorgeous an approach over the hurdles get consumed alive by kids whose kind was trivial at best since they ran the phases v purpose. I witnessed a kid named Emanuel Sledge native Saginaw Arthur Hill (11.10, 22.75) operation 39.05 in the 300 hurdles despite looking favor he was lengthy jumping every 35 meters. That remained in 2006, and also it still sticks through me.

Breaking the Race right into Phases

I’m not so arrogant come think that this is the only way to operation the 300-meter hurdles, but I’m just arrogant enough to say that if your current advice come athletes is some iteration of “run as tough as you deserve to as long as girlfriend can” or mainly a hype-speech littered through the native “heart” and also “guts,” this race plan will assist your youngsters get better.

The 300-meter hurdle race has actually eight hurdles and what I think about to it is in five distinctive phases:

The begin (up to and also including the very first hurdle)

The Backstretch (hurdle 2, leading approximately hurdle 3)

The Curve (hurdles 3, 4, and also 5)

The Homestretch (hurdles 6, 7, and also 8)

The end up (between the last hurdle and also the complete line)

Breaking the race right into phases is the identical of chunking a project. Like numerous high school coaches, I’m also a teacher. In the classroom, if ns assign a task to students without helping them rest it into components and without helping them devise a arrangement for draw close the job effectively, I’m setting them up for failure. Part will become so overwhelmed the they’re unable to also begin; others will certainly dive in blindly and also realize halfway with that they’ve to be going around things every wrong. When a specific amount that problem-solving top top their part is necessary, I have to at least offer them a map come follow.

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Image 1. Whiteboard chart of Coach Germain’s five phases in a 300-meter hurdle race. These room the Start, Backstretch, Curve, Homestretch, and also Finish.“Run as tough as you deserve to as lengthy as girlfriend can” sounds deceptively simple, however it doesn’t put youngsters in the ideal position to succeed. A five-phase checklist helps athletes native a mental perspective in the they can focus on executing one component at a time, quite than facing the complicated task because that what the is: a 300-meter sprint v stuff in the way.

For some, the idea the this race is therefore intimidating they’re beaten before the gun has actually fired. Because that others, fifty percent the race will certainly pass castle by prior to they establish they’re no in it. Obviously, we desire to stop these points at all costs.

1. The Start

As with any kind of sprint race, the begin in the 300-meter hurdles is extremely important. I have heard every kinds of devastating advice together it relates to starting this race, including—I son you not—go the end at about 75% and also then absent it in at the end. You have to never, under any type of circumstance, coach athletes this way.

I phone call my youngsters all the time, “You can not be able to win the race through your start, yet you can absolutely lose the race through it.” If an athlete gets out of the blocks as well slowly, the rest of the pack will pass them by. The jogger who gets out at 100% and the one that gets out at 75% will certainly both be in pain once they cross the finish line. If you’re walking to be in pain regardless, climate you may as well get the end hard and also have miscellaneous to display for it in ~ the end, right? for these reasons, i cue athletes to try to be the first person to the first hurdle.

I cue athletes to shot to be the very first person to the first hurdle… that much less complicated to run quick when fresh 보다 it is as soon as tired, claims
TrackCoachTG. Click to Tweet

The beauty, beauty of the 300-meter hurdle gyeongju is that there is room for complete acceleration, something the 100-/110-meter gyeongju does no offer. With 45 meter to job-related with, athletes deserve to cycle through whole push phase and transition into an upright sprinting position before approaching the very first hurdle. Coach kids to use their explosive power systems early on when lock readily obtainable to the body. That much simpler to run rapid when fresh 보다 it is once tired. Acquiring out of the blocks with anything less than speeding up to best velocity in psychic is a guaranteed method to make sure maximum velocity is never attained, due to the fact that it certainly isn’t going come come in the last 60 meter of the race.

2. The Backstretch

After coming off the first hurdle, we’ve gotten in what I speak to the Backstretch phase. Our athletes should currently be running quick here because they increased to height speed and cleared the very first hurdle with technique so beautiful it can make grown males weep. But while speed is still the priority in the Backstretch phase, it’s lot looser­: an ext like the method we coach youngsters to run the backstretch of the 400.

The key thing ns tell mine athletes to do below is a phrase I borrowed from Ryan Banta, author of The Sprinter’s Compendium: “run tall and maintain.” If we tell athletes other else—“float the backstretch” or “relax,” for example—they will certainly inevitably slow down. Slowing under is bad, and also we want to prevent it for as long as us can.

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Telling athletes to run tall reminds them the they need to be in one upright sprinting posture between the hurdles; telling them to maintain reminds them that they need to proceed to be rapid through the second and as much as the third hurdle and avoid deceleration.

3. The Curve

As athletes technique the third hurdle, castle entering the Curve phase. The athletes have actually now run 100 meters at or close to the optimal speed they can muster, and also both speed and also mechanics will start to damage slightly here. Plus, maybe I’ve been uniquely unlucky in my career, however it has been my suffer that wind regularly presents itself many as a element in the curve. If you coach in a warm-weather state and also don’t battle wintery conditions well right into April (grumble grumble, mutter mutter), climate you can take a different method here. But for me, i remind kids in the curve the the prestige of your forward lean over the hurdle. Also if wind isn’t a factor, over there is very little downside to questioning athletes to refocus ~ above their an approach over the hurdles, therefore they don’t start floating or hurdling in an upright position.

There’s very little downside to asking athletes come refocus top top their method over the hurdles so they don’t being floating or hurdling in one upright position, claims
TrackCoachTG. Click come Tweet

The cue that I usage is to tell mine athletes come “hurdle downhill”—in other words, come imagine themselves no as needing to elevate in bespeak to clear the hurdle, yet as running at a decrease and staying down on the barrier.

I likewise want my athletes pushing to the within of the curve with a slight inward lean, which means controlling your eyeballs, feet, and arms. First, ns cue athletes come “look 2 lines in.” What i mean right here is no for them to violently revolve their head and also stare at the runner two lanes within of them, however to slightly transition their eye to the left and also choose a brand-new focal point that isn’t directly in former of them. They’re not running straight, so concentrating straight front doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it causes athletes to finish up drifting ago toward the middle or exterior of the lane.

Next, we need to consider the yes, really foot win in the sprinting mechanics. Boo Schexnayder talks about using the feet to apply force outwardly once coaching curve to run in the high jump approach, and also while this curve is much less dramatic than a high run curve, the an easy principle still applies. Finally, arm activity should likewise be slightly altered in the curve, v the exterior arm draw close the chin together opposed come the cheek. These three things done in unison will assist keep your athletes positioned whereby they should be.

At the final hurdle that the Curve, the hurdles are nearly even v one another. At this point, I choose using the “slingshot” terminology, not due to the fact that I actually think children are going to in which method magically get quicker coming out of the turn, but due to the fact that I want them to think about themselves together re-accelerating, resuming their traditional upright, eyes-forward posture, and also believing that they can be rapid going right into the last 100 meters of the race. I want them to think the themselves together getting much faster here, even if it’s not actually true, fairly than letting negative self-talk creep in and also convince castle of their own slowness and imminent demise.

4. The Homestretch

I love city hall the 300-meter hurdles. Yes something beautiful around the spacing of the hurdles and being may be to watch exactly wherein each jogger stands each time they go over them. In a 400 or a 200 we deserve to eyeball the stagger and estimate that has consisted of the most ground, however in the 300-meter hurdles there is a visual marker every 35 meter that lets us know exactly who is in prior of whom and also by just how much.

There could be no an ext beautiful moment than once the stagger has actually been completed and also all the hurdles heat up because that the an initial time in the straightaway the the homestretch. There space right about 80 meters to go, and the sixth hurdle speak the story of how successful your very first five were.

For many athletes, the homestretch is the hardest component of the race, and with good reason. Through every second that passes, it i do not care harder because that the human body to coordinate explosive movement and overall stability, and technique is often the first thing to go when exhaustion sets in. In ~ this point, ns prompt athletes to focus on the coordination.

What i cue will count on what I watch my athlete doing in ~ this step of the race, and also it may even readjust from day come day as soon as we job-related on the various phases in practice. I could tell lock “tall!” or “fast hands!” together they sprint between the hurdles. I can remind them “down!” end the hurdle to keep them indigenous elevating and to remind them that they’re faster when lock on the track than once they’re sailing over the barrier. I want trail legs snapping “back come the middle and also down” for this reason they can continue sprinting.

Speaking that sprinting, the method we coach our athletes’ sprinting technique and just how we train rate endurance matters much more in the Homestretch than all over else in the race, largely because of how it straight impacts hurdling technique. Merely put, if youngsters are also slow and also their force production has reduced too greatly, they will not have sufficient speed to carry them through the barrier efficiently. This deserve to manifest as:

The athlete slowing down even more as they approach the hurdle since they’re fear they can not have enough speed to obtain over.

Jumping end the hurdle and also landing in a close to standstill while various other athletes pass them by.

Hurdle technique matters, yet if castle don’t maintain sprinting technique, then optimal hurdle an approach isn’t walk to occur anyway.

Hurdle technique matters, but if lock don’t preserve sprinting technique, then optimal hurdle an approach isn’t walking to take place anyway, claims
TrackCoachTG. Click come Tweet

The last hurdle seems prefer it’s a foot taller than the others. That has constantly been this way, it always will be, and I’m still not sure it isn’t taller than the others. There is nothing I can tell girlfriend to counter this phenomenon. Good luck.

5. The Finish

There are just eight physics hurdles in this race, yet there is one last psychological hurdle that demands to it is in cleared: after touchdown top top the final hurdle, there are still 10 meter to go before the finish line. Every hurdle coach in the world has watched a kid get passed in the final 10 meter of the race due to the fact that they did no sprint off the last hurdle. They’re exhausted. They’re in pain. In their mind, the race is over. Us cannot let this happen.

Every point matters, and also sometimes the final 10 meters is the difference between winning and also coming in second, or scoring a point in eighth and not scoring in ~ all. Periodically it’s the difference in between a PR and coming increase short. These room 10 crucial meters.

In my practices, we never complete at the end up line. When we occupational on the final phase that the race, I put cones an additional 5–10 meters past the complete line, and also athletes have to sprint with the cones. Ns coach mine athletes come “catch one!” after ~ touchdown top top the final hurdle—meaning, choose the closest human being and try to to win them v the line. If lock in the lead, well, they have actually to finish hard come avoid getting caught.

After touchdown on the last hurdle, there room still 10 meters to go prior to the finish line…Drill this phase until it becomes 2nd nature come kids, says
TrackCoachTG. Click come Tweet

Here’s the thing. Every one of this seems so noticeable that it virtually feels stunner to mention it. Possibly you haven’t discussed it come your kids for that very reason: Of food athletes should sprint v the line in every race. Yet it has actually been my monitoring that in the 300-meter hurdles much more than any type of other race, children don’t carry out it. And also if us don’t convince them of it in practice and teach the finish as a unique phase the isn’t tied by a white line on a track, however as a final, 15-meter, all-out, everything-they’ve-got (heart! guts!) sprint, we can almost guarantee that part day castle will endure being happen because, in your mind, they were done.

Drill this phase until it becomes 2nd nature come kids. Display them video of athletes who didn’t finish and cost themselves since of it (see in ~ the 5:25 mark here). The last hurdle is not the end up line.

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Taking It come the Track

So, over there you have actually it: a setup you have the right to put in ar today the will give your 300-meter hurdlers a tangible strategy for success in the hardest race on the track. Come recap, here are the phases and their cues:

The Start—Be the first person to the an initial hurdle

The Backstretch—Run tall and also maintain

The Curve—Look two lines in; hurdle downhill; slingshot

The Homestretch—Run tall; quick hands; stay down

The Finish—Catch one, sprint, v the line

Just make certain they don’t eat any type of roast beef sandwiches top top the bus.

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