Hurdle Woes


When it comes to developing hip mobility, hurdle mobility drills typically fall way short of the intended goal.

Case in point…

I have 5 athletes of varying sizes training together and one set of hurdles set up for step-overs and duck-unders.

(Smart guys don’t give it away… just wait for it…let the others catch up)

The assumption must then be that my bigger, taller athletes have much greater general mobility than my smaller, shorter athletes for duck-unders and my shorter athletes have greater hip mobility for step-overs, right?


One size does not fit all, and it usually results in some form of compensation in the lumbar spine and pelvis rather than an increase in hip mobility.

I’m sure you’ve seen it.

Big guys ducks under the hurdle and it ends up looking like a dog taking a dump in the back yard as he rounds his back to get under the hurdle rather than utilizing hip flexion (that he doesn’t have a sufficient quantity of to perform the task correctly in the first place).

The opposite is also true.

Try to step over a hurdle that is too high and the pelvis must be tilted posteriorly to get the foot up high enough for clearance. This also promotes reduced hip extension on the support leg.

For those of you who regularly perform the Functional Movement Screen or a Klatt test you’ll see this technique quite often during your assessements of those who lack hip mobility.

Why reinforce bad mobility during training as well as methods that can promote back injury over time?

At best, with the optimum, individualized hurdle height, hip mobility can be reinforced with hurdle mobility drills but not improved.

For that use other effective drills that don’t result in injury potentiating technique.




Injury poteniating technique? Again we have a fitness professional (former Jav guy) stating things in absolute. Instead of looking at the positives he of course looks at the common faults of athletes he has experienced first hand.  I have done hurdle mobility drills for a decade and never had an athlete with any history of poor back health. Many athletes will round or get into extension but what about those that don’t? What about the great athlete that is coached well and has plantar flexion and uses 30 inch or lower hurdles? A rounded spine is fine as we are not squating 600 pounds and the pros of ankle mobility are so great I could care less if we get rounded as other means will more than undue the terror to our spines.  Bill Hartman seems to be a nice guy but hurdle mobility has helped my athletes as it is possible to get more help than harm.


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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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