Directors Cut- Andreas Behm


Mike Young did a great interview with Andreas a while ago, and I wanted to get more into detail about why I believe Andreas will be one of the new blood that will trickle down to new coaches. He is perhaps one of the most generous coaches in sharing, and he deserves all the accolades he gets now. He has paid his dues and I am one of his fans. I looked at some of the questions and can only comment on areas I see that have clear causation and wanted to expand on some of the information that I think all of us can learn from. This post is a combination of having lunch and learning, and a few follow up emails and phone calls. Much of what I have learned from coaches like Dan and Vince has resonated differently but some of it is right on.

an aggressive takeoff angle, closing down into and over the hurdle as well as continuously moving his limbs over the top of the hurdle.

So what is an aggressive take off angle? I think the word choice is perfect. At first people want a number and that is fine, but the take off angle is low and into the hurdle. When in practice a floating hurdle is a survival one that is simply too fast or late. Andreas was clear that attacking the hurdle establishes a low flight and minimal air time. Continuous movement is one way to keep balanced and accelerating off the landing. If you look at the film Aries is preparing earlier, barely perceptively, than his counter parts. We are talking .001 as his arm motion has a large range that flows with his trail leg.

Since all types of hurdling is optimal acceleration/speed work, we still continue to work on maximal acceleration/speed on the flat to challenge the nervous system throughout the year.

I asked this question and it has some caveats. Seven step hurdling (to the first barrier) has an enormous strain on the body and Andreas finds that much of the flat acceleration must be reduced and his program loading during the week reflects that on day one and day two. My thoughts is that this is very interesting because the amount of work by reducing one step must be enormous to make a dramatic change during some phases. After talking to a few other coaches, they agreed, and the question is how fast one is globally will dictate mesocycle timing to ensure slower hurdlers (flat speed) can grow.

We use drills with these athletes to introduce postures and movement concepts, as well as establish common language for instruction and cuing.

Notice the amount of preparation before cueing. A major difference exists between Vince and Andreas versus some of the bozo performance coaches claiming magic motor change. First cuing becomes more reminder of volitional attitudinal and task demanding later, as words become minimal later. Cues exist for a reason and it’s hard because some respond differently and may need different cues for the same errors during development.

Early in the year we tend to work over 4-6 hurdles with the focus being on a dynamic approach and optimal hurdling speed/rhythm, later on in the year we work in the 4-12 hurdle range with an added emphasis on rhythm endurance.

The rhythm endurance workout of 12 hurdles is a staple with some coaches for good reason. Andreas times the landing off of hurdle 1 and touchdown off of hurdle 12. When he hits 11 seconds he knows Aries is ready. What I feel is that this is a balance from the Ross drill because he used overspeed with conventional heights and spacing by removing hurdles and the 12 at lower heights and tighter spaces works with cerebellum and CPG mechanisms to relax antagonists and create a feedforward loop with reflex circuits. Research shows that repetition works for the specific task for mastery. Random may help a component of a movement cycle (one hurdle) but random has limits. When I was at the USATF III school Gary Winckler was clear to address the psychological aspects of learning when failure is high, and it’s far more complicated than a Wulf study or textbook.

A hurdler simply cannot open up and apply forces into the track with the range of motion that a sprinter can, due to the limited amount of space they have to work with between the hurdles.

I can’t comment on the methods of achieving specific strength transfer, as it may be specific to the athlete, not just the event, but shuffling may not be as easy as it looks. I was very surprised and almost excited that shuffling is work, and the language Andreas used was very explicit about power and force during shuffling. This juxtaposition of power and grace must be looked into more as several athletes interpret shuffling differently. Some like Robles and even Oliver are far different Musicians as Coach Brooks would say. This something I need to brush up on as I have not found out the underlying facets of shuffling beyond just simple suggestions.

Primarily the athlete needs to be fast and powerful. Height of the athlete is a secondary consideration.

This is an area ( 7 step demands) that I need to explore. I think that because of the half step taking off at 11.5 meters or so, no athlete can do it seven without some air time changes by striding out more. If one looks at the specific block settings and acceleration pattern he became like swiss timing in 2012 with hurdle one. If one can get over hurdle one without compromise of the entire race, the speed off the hurdle does have a specific correlation to the other hurdles simply because it’s harder for hurdlers and most sprinters to accelerate longer properly. Hurdles become vertical in 15 minutes and need the global ability to accelerate as skill to become world class.

In the weight room we periodically use Tendo Units to measure bar speed and power output for our Olympic lifts. For body composition data we take DEXA scans every six weeks, which lets us know if we are moving in the right direction, in terms of body fat and lean muscle mass.

Get leaner and make sure one uses enough testing to ensure speed and power is being developed. I believe that DEXA scans are not rocket science, but being lean is not addressed more with some athletes. Fat doesn’t fly. I hate to say this but nutrition is the hardest component to change because coaches are lazy or they realize athletes sometimes get away with things. I am interested in what information is going to be at BSMPG many coaches are trying to make nutrition a bigger part of the solution. We all know it’s important to have power to weight ratio that is better, but it seems simple body composition and developing raw power is under appreciated.

That is it for today. I have about three or four more posts before taking the summer off (or just stop blogging) but wanted to make sure great coaches can be shared with the track and field community more often.

Note: A rumor started about Andreas using super secret Pivothead sunglasses (see photo) to video Aries and feed it back to his Dartfish workstation so he can do super analysis. This is just a joke I had and soon I saw four coaches using it at practices and asking about dropbox integration! Like my google glass post earlier, this will grow overtime as I predict it. In reality Andreas does use mobile devices and super slow motion to zero down for key positions to help benchmark growth.

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)