Athletes gain confidence from training over hurdles

Athletics New Zealand high performance hurdles coach Joe Hunter, left, and Southland coach Chris Knight at Surrey Park ...

A national coach believes competing and training over hurdles instills confidence in athletes.

Athletics New Zealand high performance hurdles coach Joe Hunter was in Invercargill recently to train athletes and coaches at a two-day clinic. He was making his first visit to the city as an Athletics New Zealand representative and liked what he saw. 

Hunter said regardless of what event athletes specialised in, there were many benefits from doing hurdles training.

"It builds courage [in a person] ... it takes a lot of courage running flat out at hurdles."  

Hurdles training also helped with an athlete's rhythm, flexibility, balance and co-ordination, he added.

Hunter said junior athletes should at least train in different track and field events before specialising on one or more events.

"They [athletes] shouldn't be specialising until they're 18 or 19."

Most of the 54 attendees at the Invercargill clinic were athletes between the ages of 10 and 18, with some travelling from Queenstown and Dunedin, he said.

The total number confirmed to him that there was good interest in hurdling in Southland.

"I was a bit surprised at the number. There was a wide range of abilities and there were some that had good potential [for hurdling]."

Hunter was impressed on the second day of the clinic that athletes spoke about or implemented what they had been taught a day earlier. Between the ages of 12 and 16 was a good time to try out hurdling and athletes specialising in that event didn't reach their prime until 26 or 27, Hunter said.

Southland coach Chris Knight said part of his training programmes for throwers (shot put, javelin, discus and hammer) always included hurdle drills. 

Meanwhile, the Southland competition season starts on October 6, with many using it as a stepping-stone to the New Zealand Secondary Schools Athletic Championships in Dunedin on November 30 to December 2.