Development of the Sprint Hurdles

Posted by Tony Veney

One of the difficult areas to manage as a coach is the development of your sprint hurdles (110H/ 100H). The books out there will give you plenty of technical things to learn and what I want to touch on is the practice session itself.

One of the biggest problems continues to be the fact that we take our best sprinters and sprint them and then take our second-tier sprinters and put them in the sprint hurdles them. We must test all sprinters for hurdling potential and take advantage of all the explosive work hurdling gives the sprinter. Some of this country’s best sprinters were also hurdlers and despite the problems that come from mixing the two, you must be a top-flight sprinter (I did not say world-class) to be a great hurdler.

Now, if the sprinter shows no aptitude or heart to be a hurdler, then you are wasting your time trying to get him over the sticks.

More advice on hurdling from Tony Veney: Coaching the Dual Hurdler

Have a 14-day plan (but don’t let the plan control you), attempting to get in as much work as possible over the barriers. And by the way, let’s refer to them as “sticks” rather than “barriers,” which has a negative connotation. Two weeks are better than one week for this plan because you can break it down into the following:

a. Eliminate 2 Sundays
b. Eliminate 2 days of rest after the hard days
c. Eliminate 4 days for competition (2 meets per week)
d. Eliminate 4 days for medium workouts/technique days
e. Leaving you 2 days to run hard over the sticks.

Remember that the meets constitute hard days and that will leave you time to run hard only one day that week (with a dual meet and Saturday invitational). The hard running that stick sprinters get during the two meets per week will give them all the speed endurance work they need, so you can get your stick-specific work on Mondays. An example of a possible cycle could be:

Warm up

Drills-with goal for the week’s work to be acceleration 3x30m @ 95% w/3mins. rest
Short jumps (standing long/triple/S-S bounds) 3×3 each 4-6 starts over 2H set apart at 7.8 women/8.5 men and 27-30″ women/33-36″ men 4-6 starts over 4H set at 7.8/8.5 apart and 27-30″/33-36″ high.

This is all that you do. It may not look like much work to some, but if it’s done right, you have worked very well. And with two meets this week, you have had a hard week.

Relaxed tempo runs-100’s/150’s or 180′ s or pool workout

Meet day. The stick sprinter may sprint both stick races. Because they possess good coordinative ability, they also make good long jumpers.

Same as Tuesday.

Rest day or walk-through day-swim or handoffs/starts.


Sprint sticks
Shuttle sticks
Relays (maybe both).


Contrast acceleration/same as last week’s start practice except using a weighted vest/uphill/pulling a tire.

Tuesday through Sunday
Same as previous week.

Keeping the sticks low and close will keep the sticks coming at the sprinter in a competition fashion. A “Competition Factor” must be planned for at practice so you can keep the level of focus as high as possible. You cannot expect them to run regular spacing over the regular stick height. You only ask for one hard race at a meet, so how can you expect to get reps at practice over the same thing?

Developing the High School Sprint Hurdler

So, by keeping the sticks low and close you keep the movements as fast as you need them to be for a competition, and the spacing and height of the sticks is close enough to require regular stick movements. This is just a thumbnail sketch for the sticks. You can tow over sticks, uphill sticks, downhill sticks, tire sticks, sticks into/ against the wind, or do them wearing a vest.

After the second week is done, you can decide that flat running (with- out sticks) is needed to work on top end speed. So use the medium days to work on technical aspects of the sticks.

Also, when you finish your non-sticks workout, finish up with some stick running so you can still build on your stick rhythm. When you run with stepover mechanics, it takes you away from the shuffle rhythm that is so characteristic of the sprint hurdler. This why stick running after a full sprint workout helps to reinforce the stick rhythm.

Running your stick sprinters on the 1st and 3rd legs of the relay are positions that require quicker rhythm and are more conducive to assisting the stick movements.

Attend the 2015 Complete Track and Field Clinic Hurdles Session and you’ll get to work with Coach Veney himself!

Tony Veney - Tony Veney is entering his ninth season at the helm of the Pirates' men's and women's track and field teams, his 10th at Ventura College. He brings over 40 years of extensive track and field coaching and teaching experience from all levels of competition, and is a nationally certified instructor and lecturer. In the fall of 2017, Veney was awarded the Fred Wilt Coach/Educator of the Year Award by USA Track & Field. Coach Veney is a USATF Level I-II-III instructor with a master of coaching certificate. He is a regular speaker at national track and field clinics, and has produced and published several videos and books related to the specialized areas of sprints and hurdles. Veney is a 1976 graduate of UCLA with a degree in History. He was the former 800 meter record holder for the Bruins, and was a member of two NCAA outdoor track and field championship teams. He received his Master's Degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University.

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