Friday, March 6, 2015

Figuring Out the Three Step

Now that your athlete has learned to explode out of the blocks and has cleared the first hurdle, it is time to set our focus on the three step. Learning how to three step the 110 meter hurdles is the most efficient way to shave seconds off of your time. A three step is where the athlete goes over a hurdle and takes only three steps after landing before taking off again with the same lead leg as the previous hurdle. “To achieve this, the athlete has to modify his sprinting technique to make it fit the gap.”1 Most athletes are unable to do this at first due to the lack of understanding of all of key elements that make up a powerful three step, but some athletes are able to make up for lack of experience with sheer athleticism.

The first part to developing a three step is to first have the proper mind set, and envision yourself going through the movements before you attempt it. By slowing things down, and going through a mental checklist, the athlete will be able to concentrate on the aspects that need attention instead of rushing into a possibly injury. One of the largest things that holds back an athlete is their fear of committing to the three step. An excellent way of coping with this fear is to set up two hurdles on their marks, and have the athlete run a few times in the lane next to the two hurdles. What this does is help the athlete get a mental image of how far apart the hurdles are, and how fast they is going in relation to them.

The next component to a powerful three step is  power. To achieve this, the athlete has to drive their legs between the hurdles. Many athletes, when starting to learn the three step, settle into a loping rhythm between the hurdles that often results in precious time being wasted in the air that could be spent gaining speed on the ground. To improve this, set up the first hurdle at its marks and start your athlete about half way back in the curve; always make sure to adjust the steps so the athlete hits the hurdle in stride and at a full sprint. Once the athlete is comfortable with one hurdle at that speed add the second hurdle to its mark and repeat the drill. What this will do is give the athlete feeling of sprinting between the hurdles instead of reaching for a loping three step, and over time, the athlete will improve their style of sprinting through the hurdle into their three step.

The last element to a powerful three step is trusting your third step to be the step your athlete takes off with. It is very important for the athlete to trust their last step, because the 110 meter hurdle race is cycle. When most athletes do not trust their last step they will have a tendency to sail the hurdle or jump it instead of actually hurdling it, and when this happens the entire race is affected because it throws off the timing for the next hurdle set. A way to help the athlete trust their last step is to shorten the distance between two hurdles, and then gradually moving them back to their correct distances. This give the athlete confidence in their three step, and helps them to not over analyze the distance.

It is important to understand that all athletes are different and some require teaching techniques that other athletes do not need, “In teaching the beginning hurdler, don't hesitate to lower the hurdles or move them closer. The objectives should be teach efficient hurdle clearance technique at a fast rhythm, and not necessarily to negotiate the hurdles at their standard height and distance.”2 By staying mentally focused, driving between the hurdles, and trusting in your last step, you will improve your athletes finishing time.

1. Mackenzie, B. (2001) Sprint Hurdle [WWW] Available from: [Accessed 22/2/2015]

2. Lindeman, R. (n.d.). Coaching Article 2. Retrieved February 23, 2015, from

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