Although I employ a crude hybrid of the single- and double-arm shifts, my ideal hurdling form is most certainly the former. I just don’t have the necessary skill level to employ an efficient single-arm hurdling action. In terms of hurdling skill, it is obvious that I’m a big fan of Liu Xiang 刘翔, as well as Allen Johnson and Colin Jackson.
When it comes to arm action, I’m a stickler for the lead arm extension. As the lead leg straightens, the lead arm stretches out as well – as if reaching for the lead foot. Such arm action provides balance, by countering the extension of the lead leg. Swinging the lead arm outwards is a common error amongst beginners. It obviously increases the hang time of the clearance.
There are some hurdlers who bend the forearm all the way inside, with the lead forearm running parallel with the chest. For a hurdler, this is a matter of preference. I, for one, try to keep my arm action as faithful to the simple up-and-down movement of sprinting. Taking the lead arm all the way across the chest, in my opinion, complicates the hurdling action.
But then again, this is a matter of preference. So long as the arms aren’t wildly flailing and the center of gravity remains level, various nuances of hurdling are acceptable. Perhaps such an arm action enables the hurdler facilitate a more forceful trail leg snap, thanks to the increased leverage provided by the lead arm.
Practitioners of this style include the Vukicevic siblings – Christina and Vladimir. Trained by their father, the hurdling technique of the Norwegians are strikingly similar. I stumbled upon clips of their South Africa training session, one can say that they are mirror images of each other!
The older Christina, taller than most women hurdlers, is gradually making a name for herself in the international scene. In an event where speedsters tend to get away with flaws in technique, Christina’s hurdling is most efficient. The younger Vladimir, the 2010 World Junior silver medalist, is on-track to following her sister’s footsteps (or shall we say, three-step?).
Hurdlers aren’t chipped from one single block. One physical activities determines one’s hurdling style. The big and powerful David Oliver for instance, is more aggressive, in light of his background in American Football. Liu Xiang and Colin Jackson, in contrast, are pure technicians, relying on a fluidly classy form. The difference is technique and, ultimately, style makes the sprint hurdles a lot more interesting to watch.