The purpose of hurdle drills is to test the technique and the stamina of an athlete. These drills are perhaps the most easily recognizable of all track events after sprinting, and they involve jumping over a set of hurdles that are kept at equal distances from each other. In order to master the art of hurdling, an athlete will need to train for many hours a day, and develop his ability to jump higher without breaking his stride and momentum.
It is an exercise which aims at building up the technical ability of the athlete. While clearing the obstacles, the position of the lead arm and the lead leg play a major role, and this can only be perfected through effective practice.
When the athlete lands on the ground after jumping over a hurdle, he must regain his balance and continue sprinting as fast as possible. It is not uncommon for some athletes to lose their balance entirely upon landing, and this ruins the entire event for them. One must remember that hurdling is not a jumping event, it is a sprinting event with a few obstacles in between. The more one focuses on the various hurdling drills, the better one will become at jumping them. Of course, knowing how to increase the vertical jump certainly won't hurt.
Agility Hurdle Drills
The reason one loses balance after jumping the hurdles is the change in the center of mass (COM) of the body. This is not something that can be avoided, but the whole idea of hurdle training is to develop the ability to transfer the COM conveniently so that one can regain composure and speed as fast as possible. An athletic trainer will help the athlete focus solely on agility and speed hurdle drills to improve his competitiveness.
Another factor that training drills focus on is the streamlining of the body to achieve as much distance as possible, and thereby clearing the obstacle cleanly. If the trailing leg comes in contact with the hurdle, the momentum of the athlete will be disrupted, and this will ruin his rhythm causing him to fall behind in the race. There are plenty of trailing leg and lead leg drills that are commonly used in order to teach the athlete how to avoid touching the hurdle.
Hurdle Drills for Beginners
Some of the most elemental drills are employed for athletes who have just started training for hurdles. These drills provide them with a basic insight into what they should and should not be doing. The Wall Attack makes an athlete face a wall, and then jump towards the wall with the leading leg in front. He must place the sole of that leg on the wall and then jump backwards to his original position.
The Hop Drill makes the athlete extend his lead leg in front, and then hop on the other leg while trying to move as far ahead as possible with each hop. This will improve the strength and the balance in the trailing leg, and this drill will prove invaluable during an actual event. Knee Slaps demand that the athlete jogs around, while his arms are outstretched and his palms are facing down. With each alternative step he must lift his knees as high up as possible and slap them with his palms.
One must also stand next to an obstacle structure and while keeping one foot planted firmly on the ground, and move the other leg over the hurdle as many times as possible. While doing so, one must concentrate on maintaining a firm posture of the body, and keeping the back straight. Mini hurdle drills can also be made use of to get a beginner accustomed with the technique of actually jumping over a hurdle and maintaining speed.
Sprinting drills teaches the athlete how to move as fast as possible upon landing on the ground. To achieve this, one must maintain a forward leaning posture during the jump, and it also requires the athlete to carry out what is known as a 'snap-down' as soon as the heel of the leading foot crosses over the hurdle. This will enable the athlete to maintain the forward lean, which will in turn assist him in accelerating faster while landing.
Drills for hurdles are certainly not easy, and they cannot be mastered in a few days or weeks. They require months and years of regular hard work and practice, and the professional runners know this and have by discipline implemented the wisdom of constant practice. There are many such drills for distance runners as well that can improve their running technique, but this takes longer for them to master, as distance runners are used to running for longer distances but at a slower speed.
Ultimately, a successful runner will be the athlete who has practiced and mastered the skill to overcome the most number of drills he has been subjected to. This is certainly not an easy event by any means, and to master, it requires a large amount of technical ability and immense stamina.