Developing an Effective 7 Step Approach in the 110m Hurdles

First, I want to congratulate Antwon Hicks for his recent 60mH win in Saskatoon at the Knights of Columbus meet.  Coming from Miami, Saskatoon (Canada) must have been cold!

Antwon has a PB of 7.53 for the 60mH and 13.09 for the 110mH. He is also a 2.10m high jumper and 21.52 200m sprinter!

Some of you may not know this, but he is also a coach, along with sprinter Shareese Woods (PRs 11.36/22.71/51.05 for 100/200/400).  (NOTE: Shareese also won her 200m event in 24.36 at the same meet)

Visit their website at www.olympictrainingsportsgroup.webs.com

Developing an Effective 7 Step Approach in the 100/110mH

This article was guest blogged by Antwon Hicks.

Three of the four fastest wind legal times ever recorded in the 110 meter hurdles were achieved by athletes using a 7 step approach including Aries Merritt’s current world record of 12.80 seconds. There is a growing trend of many hurdlers switching to the shorter approach to help them improve their times as it seems that this particular approach is arguably more superior than using 8 steps. I feel that a 7 step approach can be highly beneficial to athletes who are capable of executing it effectively. Problems that can occur from an ineffective 7 step approach are that the hurdler may not reach the proper take off mark going into the first hurdle or they may reach an adequate take off location but do so while not carrying enough velocity along with poor body position at take off. Performing the approach correctly is easier for someone who has all the physical capabilities but there are also some things a hurdler can do to develop or even enhance their approach.

The 7 step approach is ideally for tall hurdlers because of its demands on stride length but power is likely the most important thing to have or develop. Power becomes even more important for those who have to switch to using their weaker leg to push off the front block pedal so it would be of great benefit to include single leg strength and power exercises in your training to help improve explosion out of the blocks. Training devices like the Power Pull and other exercises that develop the ability to accelerate powerfully should also be utilized as well.

Changing your block settings can also aid in developing your approach. It would be helpful to move your front block pedal as close to the starting line as possible and also use an elongated block spacing if necessary. Manipulating your block settings in this manner will allow you to cover much more ground on your first step out of the blocks and helps to eliminate some of the problems that I mentioned earlier. A great example of someone who does this well is Dayron Robles. If you watch video of him you will notice how close his front block pedal is to the starting line along with an elongated block spacing that allows him to blast out far on his first stride. It is also important to make sure that your hips aren’t too low in the set position while in the blocks as this will also deter you from covering ground on your first step.

Acceleration mechanics must also be thoroughly developed for an adequate approach because there is a different rhythm to it. The 7 step approach rhythm differs from the quick 8 step approach in that you have to use long powerful strides to reach the hurdle. Being too quick can cause problems so it is important to be patient and get full extension on your strides. Also you must have great focus to execute properly while in competition and resist the urge to be quick when your competitors are alongside you.

As the 7 step approach becomes increasingly popular among the men’s 110 meter hurdlers it is possible that women and youth may also find great success with its use. I’ve been using a 7 step approach since I began hurdling at age 11 and at that age I wasn’t nearly as fast or powerful as the elite women 100 meter hurdlers so it is possible that a 7 step approach may produce some very fast times in the women’s event just as it has in the men’s.

About the Author

Visit Antwon Hicks’ website at www.olympictrainingsportsgroup.webs.com or contact him at olympictsg@gmail.com

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