Young Athletes Must Train Hurdles! Here Are 3 Reasons Why
There is a lot more to training a young athlete than just making them stronger. Making them stronger is certainly a large piece of the pie, but there are other factors in building an athletic base that are just as important. While hurdles aren’t the only way that these concepts can be trained, they’re definitely one of the most effective and efficient ways. Not only will training with hurdles make you a better athlete, but they’ll also make you less likely to get injured.
1- Landing mechanics – First and foremost. The greatest ability in sports is availability, and when you’re injured it doesn’t matter how fast or strong you are, you’re unavailable. There is always an inherently high risk for lower extremity injuries in sports. In particular with young athletes we worry about knee injuries. While contact injuries can’t really be avoided, non-contact injuries can, and one of the best ways to prevent them is to work on your landing mechanics. During your early teenage years, your body is growing quickly and your brain and muscles are having a hard time controlling your limbs causing you to feel like a deer on roller skates. Hurdles are a great way to break up and slow down deceleration mechanics and perfect them one small jump at a time.
2- Speed development – Faster is better, and the longer your feet are in contact with the ground the slower you’re moving. In order to decrease this time, you not only need to get better at producing force, but you need to start producing that force more quickly. While there are many ways that you can practice this concept, hurdle drills are a great way to work on it because they give you a physical object that you can look at and know that you need to get over. By forcing you to jump a little higher, it increases the amount of momentum that you will need to be able to decelerate as well as giving you a goal for how much force you need to produce on the rebound.
3- Body Control – In order to effectively and efficiently change direction, you need to be able to control your body in space. The great thing about hurdles is that they give you an object that you need to get over without hitting, so it puts a mental value on how much you need to move in order to change direction. That visual can be intimidating to someone who is just learning how to change directions, but once they get the hang of it then it will become second nature. The great thing about hurdles is that you can start to set them up in different patterns once you master the basics and really learn to challenge your body’s ability to maintain balance during changes in direction.
Steve Zarriello is the owner of Olympia Fitness and Performance, located in Cranston, RI. He has been training clients of all different ages, abilities and backgrounds to help them reach their specific goals for over 10 years. His primary focus is on working with golfers to help improve their ability to play the game and keep them pain free.