Standing just nine to 18 inches tall, speed hurdles are small training tools that can make a big difference in your sprinting form.
The right drills with these little L-shaped tools can improve the mechanics of the frontside—i.e., all the movements that allow you to push off of the ground—and the backside—i.e., everything that allows you to bring your heel up after ground contact to start the recovery phase of your stride. Better mechanics mean more efficient running. Better efficiency means you'll go farther, and possibly faster, while expending less energy.
For the following three speed drills, I recommend starting with five hurdles (cones will work in a pinch). As you become more comfortable with the movements and confident with your form, add hurdles until you reach a total of 10. Perform each drill five times on your speed training days.
Wickets test and improve your backside mechanics. Here's how to perform the drill.
If your foot strikes a hurdle, your ankle is not cocked sufficiently. That means you're over emphasizing backside mechanics, causing you to run more slowly than you're capable of.
If you're clearing the hurdles with ease, it's a sign that you have a good, high-heeled recovery, which is the key to great backside mechanics.
This drill teaches you to lift your knees higher as you run to improve your frontside mechanics. It also helps you learn to drive your foot into the ground with toes up.
Since most athletes don't just move forward and backward in a straight line, I recommend this drill, which improves lateral movement. That way, you'll be better able to run strong from sideline to sideline, too. (Watch the Georgia softball team perform the Lateral Shuffle Drill.)
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