Speed of Sevilla



Imagine that you are at a concert in Sevilla, after a stunning flamenco performance, clapping at a fast uniform pace, much like a heart beat while jogging. Even better, try it out right now, but stop after you reach twelve claps. Then do it again but this time execute the first, third, fifth, eighth, and eleventh claps loudly, and the remaining seven claps softly. Your clapping pattern could then be represented like this: [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12], where the claps shown in bold face are the ones you clap loudly. It may also be helpful to count aloud the twelve claps in groups as follows: [1 2 1 2 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2] and to clap loudly only on the one’s. If you repeat this pattern over and over, you will be clapping the rhythm of the seguiriya from Andalucia in Southern Spain.

– El Comp´as Flamenco: A Phylogenetic Analysis

Developing speed with hurdling is a unique rhythm you can’t improve by just doing out to the track and adding some sprints at the end of a workout.Hurdling speed is an enigma many coaches have so many philosophies on what to work with in regards to improving the flat speed between the barriers. After reviewing two of my athletes it seems that sprinting speed has some basic needs in order to transfer properly. The proper dose of speed and what one prescribes in training is what I have been pondering as of late. CFKA made a shrewd comment about the way the athlete was running between the hurdles was strong instead of elastic. The question is would he have said that the flat sprinting (namely 10m or 20m fly sprints) looked a bit flat vs elastic and quick? Honestly I think he is bouncy and we are working on increasing the alternating burst of relaxation and contraction with grass runs that are sharp and not sloggy. We did some pure turnover work by using hurdle running technique in regards to arm carriage and an emphasis on front side mechanics. Will that transfer? What about the rhythm? Like the flamenco analysis you can’t just clap (I have been guilty of this many times) in hopes the speed will infuse into rhythm. You have to coach it like Jimmy Hendrix with a burning guitar in hopes something rises.

Delayed Transmutation is a term that drives me nuts as some coaches who think that jacking up the squats will act as some Speed Grenade, where in time the athlete will suddenly sprint faster after a certain amount of time. My goal is to have the general qualities be placed properly to transfer earlier while improving the athlete long term. Not easy and I am not saying I cracked the code during a spiritual retreat to New Mexico. Here are some elements I see that are a bit of a phenomenon:

  • The rhythm of the hurdles is similar to flamenco dancing where the beat is not the same- between the hurdles. Based on the data collected by the USATF coaching education I have that the ratio of step length is nearly a 2 3/4 : 3/4 : 1 : 1 ratio with hurdlers. Individualism will occur but on average most hurdles preserve this if they are under 13.5. Be it yards or meters that ratio exists. Work on all the notes not just max speed, shuffling,or repeat runs.
  • The velocity of the center of mass is nearly the fastest from take off over the hurdle. Paradoxically the athlete must minimize air time but the fastest COM velocities are after the take off. Maintaining speed off the hurdle is based strongly on the set up of the trail leg.
  • Reducing arm carriage stroke and stiffness training of small joint angles of the ankle and knee should provide the ability to shuffle only if the take off points are there. So long as the arm action doesn’t interfere with the hips the athlete should be able to utilize some sort of shuffle tactic.
  • I have found that 150m runs are excellent alternatives to 200m runs as it allows for more reps and less fatigue. 150m times are easier to extrapolate than 200m times as you can use them earlier during the outdoor season if you use a short to long program. They also prepare the athlete evenly as hurdling is asymmetrical and tens to wreck havok on the foot and ankle joint systems from pattern overload. Asymmetry is the bane of sports medicine and needs appropriate program design changes and or therapy demands.
  • Fly work needs to be used early in the fall and spring in doses that will encourage continual improvement. Advanced hurdlers tend to use a similar stride pattern to hurdling but allowing them to open up a little does help with overall speed qualities. Even if you can’t extrapolate a 30m time to a 100m projection. Improving it will lead so some carryover.
  • Grass tempo can’t be lazy or it will create 400m running strides that fight with the efforts of improving frequency. If one is bored you can vary the distances and intervals just enough to keep them on their toes. Tempo work is hard to coach because it’s boring but that’s why it’s both the art and science. That reminds me I need to get another boombox.
  • The sum of all the various speed work is synergistic as the rhythm of the strides is repeating per hurdle but not per step. Placing all your eggs in one basket is not suggested as it’s rare that one person is missing the magic piece.

The speed work must be blended in to the program so that the hurdler can grow with the speed work. Too much flat speed may not transfer fully if the discrepancy is too far from the development of the hurdling ability. How this is done is based on real word needs such as coaching exposure, training group size, weather and facilities, and injury history.
Discuss entry

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

Latest posts by Carl Valle (see all)