Take off Butterfly Effect


The take off in the hurdles represents the highest cause of errors in hurdles, yet they are rarely mapped out from a cause and effect point of view. Most hurdlers look visually at tape and assume that the what you see is a product of what you are trying to do. Regardless of what one feels, the underlying elements must be based on motor learning theory and practice with a backbone of physics. The physics of hurdling is not an enigma, but the art of transfer of numbers into people’s reality is a mystery.

*The take off distance must be as far as possible to keep the air time minimal. The distance is only as far as the touchdown mechanics being able to maximize the velocity of the horizontal projection.

*A take off that is far enough will allow the athlete to land with the center of mass closer to ground so the landing requires optimal eccentric demands on the touch down.

*Too close to the hurdle then the athlete will float and glide. Gliding is a period of deceleration although it is visually appealing at first. Efficient hurdling is sometimes paradoxical in nature and pauses look great in ballet when one is doing a Grand jeté but are time robbers.

*Take off distances that are far enough will allow the foot and tibial roll and stay at a lower angle. Self preservation of the hurdler many times will cause a lack of patience and the angle will be too vertical, resulting in too much air time and a more demanding landing. The demanding landing is more of a drop than a run off of the hurdle, resulting in athletes that reaccelerate each barrier.

*When the hurdler has a patient take off by waiting to the of the roll-off of the toe this will load the elastic recoil of the trail leg. The trail leg will accelerate based on hip gyroscopic action of the trunk and this can be accelerated at the end. An athlete may believe and feel that he or she is speeding up the trail leg but the highest velocity comes from the earlier phase. The effort of the hurdler is to keep heel with the pelvis and knee the hurdle up fast and forward. The combined effort will result in a tight trail leg as the end point is near the center of the body and foot will veer closer.

*Pelvic position will hamper or help the speed of the trail and led legs if the athlete commits and exposes themselves by taking the risk. A heal to butt action during take off must happen to some degree or the body will rotate too much as the lead arm and trail arm are to neutralize each other in harmony. The pelvis moves more than sprinting over the hurdle as the gyroscopic like effect will direct the legs into place and the responsibility of the hurdler is too guide the differences into the right joint positions.

*The aggressive position of a lower projection angle will keep the led leg faster and it will keep the spine in a better position over the hurdle. The lead arm assists both rotary aspects as the body need to turn on both the horizontal and vertical axis.

*Adjustments to shuffling must be done before and after the take off points have been corrected as the athlete will have both the distance reduction and the increased speed off the hurdle to worry about. Many times an adjustment in take off distance is not preserved as the shuffling ability is not improved to sustain the take off distances. Jamming the hurdles close is not enough as many athletes will resort to take off mechanics that are similar but they feel like they are improving as the rate of the hurdles are coming faster. If feels like it’s working but the tape is clear.
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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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