November 01, 2006
In gymnastics, a hurdle is the final preparatory step before performing a skill from a run. The purpose of the hurdle is to properly position yourself for the takeoff while maintaining and/or building momentum.
In most cases, a hurdle should be low and long. This will maintain forward momentum and allow sufficient time for preparatory positioning. There are a few exceptions, such as a hurdle on a diving board, where little forward momentum is available and the jumping surface is highly flexible, in which case a high hurdle is optimal.
Even if you have no plans to perform gymnastics or acrobatic movements from a hurdle, practicing a hurdle will have transferable benefit. It will improve footwork in any athletic endeavor where step adjustment is necessary, and it will improve your ability to navigate uneven surfaces rapidly and without injury.
You must know how to skip in order to have an effective hurdle. If you have not skipped since you were young, or have never skipped before, now is the time to begin practicing.