Lazy Trail Leg

It’s been a while since there’s been a new thread in here, but I hope I can get some feedback on this here.

I worked hard these past few months, and now three stepping quickly is something that I can do on a regular basis. A hands on hurdle coach really helped with me driving through the hurdle, so that’s taken care of. Of course, now a new problem has cropped up.

I don’t know what it is, but I have a new tendency to let my trail leg hang out to the side a bit and drop a tad, instead of tucking it into my butt and keeping it high and pulling through under the armpit. As a result, I’m just smashing through hurdles, and there is a constant bruise and a variety of cuts surrounding my trail ankle. I’m losing confidence, and my form overall is starting to suffer because of it.

What can I do to get that trail leg back up where it belongs to get my form back on track? What would any of you do (coaches or hurdlers), to get an athlete’s confidence back up to attack the hurdles and really sprint between and drive through after a loss of confidence like this?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Hey man.What ive learned,you just have to keep hurdling. With the trail leg,you have to make it an action that just happens man. I did trail leg drills for hours man because I converted late in my senior year. Plus in my opinion,I always believed that a bad trail leg made you fall.Drop the hurdles,move them in and just run the hell out of them smartly until its like your are a hurdle.And have fun with the hurdles!

Just try initiating pulling the trail leg upward on the pull through a fraction of a second earlier and make sure that the thigh of the trail leg gets all the way to front before you put it down.

Chances are, you’re either rushing to get it back down and not completing the action correctly or you lack the flexibility to achieve the high pull through position. I’m guessing it’s the first situation.

You can practice this with some 5-step work over the side of the hurdle and overemphasizing this action. It will take some repetition to get it to automatically occur when you race. Also, do some 5-stepping over the middle of the hurdle and pay attention to the trail leg action.

The key to fixing this is to always practice correctly so you don’t reinforce any bad habits.

Mister C, you still need help with this?

Well, yes. Even though my outdoor season just ended, I know that this problem wasnt fixed. I believe the problem stemmed from both a slight lack of flexibility and the fact that I was pulling it up too fast instead of letting it come up ‘late.’

Any other insight would be great, as I’m gonna spend some time in the future seriously reworking my hurdle form.

Another thing to look at is your takeoff point. You could be bringing the trail leg through correctly and still hit the hurdle if you are getting too close to hurdle at take off.

The other possibilities are that the pull through knee is too low too long or that you are pulling it forward too early. I don’t think pulling it up too fast would result in hitting it. You probably need to study some video to determine the cause, maybe have someone measure your take off distance and then start working on a solution.

A few things need to be in place before I can say anything about how to improve your hurdle technique.

First, how is your flexibility? If you aren’t flexible enough, then the result is obvious. You mention that there are slight issues here, so fix them. Of course with the high hurdles, much of the trail leg clearance has to do with forward lean over the hurdle, but there is still a large flexibility component.

Second, how is your core strength? By core I mean everything on your body that doesn’t dangle (the entire torso).

What sort of drills are you doing? How do you set up your training sessions? Do you go over lower hurdles that are spaced closer together for speed training? Do you do hurdle hops for strength endurance?

I will comment in general on trail leg technique. You mention that you think the problem is because you were pulling your trail leg up too fast instead of letting it come up “late.” I am not sure who told you this, but the trail leg should be right behind the lead leg. There are two ways of going about hurdling…one is the split technique, where you do the splits over the hurdle and there is a definite “One and Two” rhythm. Then there is the rotary technique made famous by Allen Johnson, where the legs do not split and there is more of a “One-Two” rhythm. I prefer the latter as it is closer to actual sprinting.

A quick solution to your problem would be when you go over the hurdle, to actually try and hit the hurdle with your trail leg (the side of the shoe or side of the heel). Sounds dumb, but in trying to hit the hurdle, the trail leg actually moves faster and clears the hurdle sooner, and the result is that you DON’T hit the hurdle with the trail leg. In other words, you are making the motion more forceful instead of timid and shy like.

I should get on my stick figure animation program and animate some of the drills that Larry Harrington taught me back in '97. Larry trained with Allen Johnson for a while, and was actually ranked # 1 in the world for the time I was training with him.

I’d check the position and movement of the foot, specifically the heel at the beginning of the take-off. The most common back-leg problem I notice is the foot not moving close enough to the hamstring, resulting in the foot and not the knee been swung forward driving the knee down instead of up the the armpit. This could be, as stated above, because of to close a take-off point, resulting in a rushed movement to get the back leg over. Move back a bit and make sure the back leg’s heel moves up first and then over the hurdle. Very elimentary but often the cause of loads of hurdling problems.

try to focus on keeping your heel as close to you but as it clears the hurdle…

tell me if you dont see an immediate improvement after that.

alos lower the hurdles.

dont just go over them at 36"

drop them down to 33" and clear some.

if you have block work

take some starts out of the blocks over 33" at full speed and tell me if that doesnt get your confidence up just a little.

after a couple good runs over 33" take them up to 36" and then finally to 39". by then you should be confident with running thru the hurdles and things should go bit smoother in practice

I’ve seen some correct this by focusing on the proper arm movement. Also, attempt to quicken or speed up this arm action, if even just slightly, can help to keep the trail from hanging. Emphasis on a simultaneously quick/aggressive movment of the arm opposite the trail leg while bringing the same side arm back quickly.

One cue that has been used is to think of cutting of the trail leg AT THE KNEE with the hand of the arm on the same side as the TL. After this, you bring that hand back through on the next stride tight to the body-typical sprint tech. Bring it back low and tight to the leg-try to avoid too much of a wide swing of the same side arm. This makes the trail leg hanging back too long(provided your trail leg mechanics are correct to begin with) almost impossible.

ISOLATION DRILLS. Hurdles is about drills drills and drills. i’ve written that 3x tonight… when I hurdle I just do drills drills drills. Rarely do the whole thing. Sprints training and hurdles technique. It works.