Women began contesting the 3000 m steeplechase during the 1990’s using barriers of different dimensions than men. Whenever a new event is introduced for women, consideration should be taken as to whether different technique or training methods should be utilized. This study investigated three aspects of hurdling technique: 1) Differences in the ratio of the landing step to the penultimate step between men and women around each non-water jump steeplechase barrier, 2) differences in step lengths between the four non-water jump barriers, and 3) changes in the step lengths around the barrier throughout the race. The step lengths around the 28 non-water jump barriers of the top seven men and women at the 2003 USA Track and Field Championships were measured using a two-dimensional analysis. A t-test determined any differences between men and women for the ratio of the landing to penultimate steps. A 2x4 repeated measures ANOVA tested for differences between the four non-water jump barriers. Linear regression tested for changes in step lengths throughout the race. Men exhibited a smaller ratio between the lengths of the landing to penultimate steps than women (0.73 ± 0.09 and 0.77 ± 0.10 for men and women respectively, p = 0.002). No step length differences were observed between the four barriers in the step lengths around each barrier (p = 0.192 and p = 0.105 for men and women respectively). Athletes gradually increased the total length of all steps around the barriers throughout the race (R2 = 0.021, p = 0.048 and R2 = 0.137, p < 0.001 for men and women respectively). The smaller ratio between landing to penultimate steps shows that the barriers affect women less than men. There may be a need to train men and women differently for the non-water jump barriers in the steeplechase or slightly alter racing strategy.
Reprinted from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 5(2), Iain Hunter et al., "Steeplechase Barriers Affect Women Less than Men", 318-322, Copyright 2006, with permission from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.;