Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
The days and weeks are becoming as one. The date is just a number and the name of the day attached to the numeral or numerals has become redundant ... to me and no doubt many others at least at this time of lock-down.
We humans live on routine and rhythm - hence the circadian rhythm. What happens when there is little structure and routine can be negative. However, training offers athletes and coaches from all sports something to create that routine and put rhythm back into lives that may be devoid of it in many other respects at present.
Sunday, Well, I think it was Sunday, I got up and realised that I had not been out of the house for 5 days (we have a garden and I'd been out in that in the glorious sun that the UK had been having on more than a few occasions). However, I hadn't trained for a couple of days. I felt without energy, listless ... I had to force myself to get out of the house and get to a local park to train. I decided to go to the one that's slightly further afield (1-mile away). Once there I started to run to get to the flatter area that I train on - about a further mile and a bit away. It was an effort, but as one step followed the next I got through one and a half tracks of music on my iPhone. Then I stopped - I didn't want to push on another 500m or so to my "track". I think this can be symptomatic of the current time i.e. that we can struggle mentally to push, "to do", no matter what the task may be. However, I must add that I dislike running for more than 10 minutes - okay, struggle to run more than 10 minutes. I guess, even at my mature age, my fast twitch fibres don't like to eke out the little oxygen they can process.
I walked the remaining distance to my training area and did some strides ... it then was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt light and fast and alive. Thereafter a good few drills were followed by sprints and some longer runs over 100m or so. My whole demeanour changed and I somehow felt more alive and positive (a feeling which remained for the rest of the day). Running fast (no matter how slow that fast may be) has always invigorated me throughout my life as an international athlete and after. The distance runner may have plenty of time to think as they churn through their miles and they'll have plenty of time to fight with the constant voice that might be saying "stop" "slow" "I can't go one". Yet, a sprinter will know how time can also slow down when running a distance that takes seconds. When you are running well, it's as if the world around you is still. You carve through space and time and are fully in-tune with your movements and everything feels easy ... fluent, effortless. You take your recovery but want that speed hit again. As your arms and limbs move as fast as they can they don't create tension, but harmony across your being and you just run - run as if there's nothing holding you back. It's a feeling that I'm lucky stil be able to experience.
My thoughts are simple here ... I think. You have to make yourself train sometimes but when you do experience these times (of which many are experiencing at the moment) then you need to do what your mind and body wants. If it's a 5-miler because that's your run distance then that's what you should do. If you are a sprinter then running fast is what you can feed your mind and muscles with. I think the word enjoy is what's describes what I suggest. I, you, we need to sometimes just enjoy what we can do as athletes. It can be difficult at these restricted times to strive, to train as if the Olympics or whatever important meet relevant to your level is fast approaching. But it's not. So, get out, and do what your body and more importantly your mind needs, not what your training plan or even your coach says ... sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to keep yourself, and I will say it, sane. Take that first step ...
We all keep saying it but these are difficult times. The lock-down will test the will-power and dedication of all athletes and coaches.
Keeping going and in my case setting workouts and replying to athletes through social media is crucial. I'll say though that it just isn't the same as doing so in-person. But hang-on you may say, don't you sort of coach through your YouTube channel? Well, yes I do - this was great, is great in its own right as an addition to my face to face coaching, but on-line only is not the same as getting to the coal face and actually coaching.
Nevertheless it's the only way that we can coach at present during COVID. As I may have mentioned in another post I have set up a wattsapp group - it contains all the athletes (young and not so young) who I have coached over the years (I'm hoping some will make a come-back accordingly!). I post workouts 6 times a week to the group. These are very much pick 'n' mix due to the facilities and home kit that each athlete may have where they live. However, I do try to make the workouts relatively generic so that most can do all of them. Generic they may be but also specific. We can train for most of the elements of the long, triple and sprints in "lock-down". Potentially the only non-inclusion being full on technique work - and even then you can do take-off drills for the long and triple and sprints on roads and hills.
I therefore expect the athletes I coach to be only a few percentiles off being near performance ready when they return to the track when and if lock-down ceases. (Hopefully, there will be some slight relaxing of the restrictions in the near future which will allow at least small group, spatially distanced coaching.).
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT DURING LOCK-DOWN?
Personally don't put too much pressure on yourself. As a coach you are looked at as a leader - but you need to be led sometimes and also supported. Accept that somedays you'll not be "on it" as much as others. Your motivation will return - you wouldn't be coaching otherwise.
DEVELOP OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR COACHING OFFER AND YOUR KNOWLEDGE
I'm trying to keep my social media going and am working on new ideas and developments - of which in another post. Another Jumper digital magazine may be in the offing
Reading coaching books and watching videos is something that we will have more time for.
I've recently attended two webinars organised by England Athletics. More on these in another post.
ATHLETES WILL TRAIN
I've had to tell some of mine to ease back a bit as they have more time to train and therefore think that more is better. It can be but not all the time and especially with young and developing athletes.
Lock-down has forced me to think of other ways to resistance train (difficult if you don't have weights). I produced a video for on this subject recently - see below.
I've used the more-me time to train and do more of the workouts that I set for the group. It's always useful to know what workouts actually feel like.
Yes, keep busy but find the time to switch-off and do something different - or nothing. I went for a long walk the other day (6 miles) to a local place I'd always wanted to explore. the sun was out it was peaceful and I returned positive.
I hope that you fellow athletes and coaches are making the most of this period and not just surviving it. It will come to an end and hopefully as individuals we'll be stronger, more learned, but more importantly better people.
LOOKING FOR PLYO BOXES, MED BALLS, HARNESSES, SLEDS, SHOTS, JAVELINS AND ALL OTHER TRACK & FIELD EQUIPMENT THEN CHECK OUT NEUFF ATHLETIC.
Nelio Moura is one of the world’s top jumps coaches - his position as such was cemented into place at the 2008 Olympics when he coached both long jump event winners – Maurren Higa Maggi (Brazil) and Irving Saladino (Panama)
JS: How did you get started in coaching?
Nelio Moura: I was pretty young, 19 years old … I had just finished college (physical education) and my former coach told me about a job opportunity four hours by bus from my home in São Paulo … I didn’t think twice. Every Friday night I would take the bus, coach a young group of athletes Saturday and Sunday, leave a programme for the week and come back home. That routine repeated for one year, until other opportunities appeared in Sao Paulo.
JS: Were you an athlete yourself?
NM: Yes, I used to be a triple jumper… not very good though! I was an age group national team member, but as an adult I realised my progress would not be enough to reach elite level. So, I decided to study and invest in a coaching career very early.
JS: Have you always coached the jumping events?
NM: As a former jumper myself, my main interest has always been in the jumping events. However, at the beginning, I used to coach everything, from sprints to race-walking. As I matured as a coach, I was able to focus on a smaller number of events. Nowadays, I work mainly with horizontal jumpers and a few sprinters and hurdlers.
JS: Where are you based? What’s athletics like as a sport in Brazil?
NM: My base is in São Paulo. I work at Ibirapuera track which belongs to São Paulo state government and for a private club, E.C. Pinheiros.
Athletics is not so popular in Brazil, and lately we are facing a lot of institutional problems, at both the state and national federation level. We are seeing traditional sponsors leaving the sport and it has been very difficult to replace them. Government support also reduced drastically since the Rio Olympic Games.
JS: Brazil has had many talented jumpers - is there any specific reason for this?
NM: It is difficult to say. Tradition, for sure, but there’s not really a “school” of horizontal jumps. Probably the likes of Adhemar Ferreira da Silva, Nelson Prudencio, João Carlos de Oliveira and more recently, Maurren Maggi, make Brazilians believe they can be good jumpers…
I'VE BEEN TRIALLING AN EMS DEVICE AND LOOKING INTO THE VALUE OF THIS MEANS OF TRAINING AS A WAY TO BOOST SPEED AND POWER. CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH INDICATES EMS COULD BE A REALLY USEFUL WAY TO IMPROVE ATHLETE
As I indicate I have been looking into how EMS works and my interest has been really piqued. I have discovered research that shows how it really can boost performance. Plus, in using the NuroKor MiTouch device I have become aware first-hand of the potential of EMS and bioelectrical technology.
This is part of an article that I wrote on the history, use and application of EMS. In future I will post the rest of it. Reference is made to Charlie Francis - one of the first coaches to document the use of EMS in the training of elite athletes. In his book The Charlie Francis Training System you'll find an in-depth article on EMS usag and his protocols which still stand scrutiny today. If you want to get a copy and I recommend that you do then see link below and right.
Contemporary EMS research indicates tremendous potential
Research reviews are always good places to start when it comes to looking at the efficacy of a claim. This is because they pool previous research studies against pre-determined criteria in an attempt to discover an outcome – that’s to say in the case of this article, whether EMS can assist sports performance.
Researchers in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research carried out such a review in 2012. The researchers identified the type of EMS used and the most relevant parameters for improvement for high performance sport, such as speed strength, power and jumping and sprinting ability. They also identified three types of users – non-athletic populations, trained subjects and crucially elite performers (they placed a specific focus on the elite).
This scientific analysis revealed that EMS is effective for developing physical performance. The team noted:
“After a stimulation period of 3-6 weeks, significant gains (p < 0.05) were shown in maximal strength (isometric Force max +58.8%; dynamic Fmax +79.5%), speed strength (eccentric isokinetic Mmax +37.1%; concentric isokinetic Mmax + 41.3%; rate of force development + 74%; force impulse + 29%; vmax + 19%), and power (+67%).”
And in terms of specific sports improvement:
Vertical jump height increased by +25% (squat jump +21.4%, countermovement jump +19.2%, drop jump +12%).
Sprint speed by as much as -4.8% in trained and elite athletes.
The team concluded: “The EMS offers a promising alternative to traditional strength training for enhancing the strength parameters and motor abilities described above. Because of the clear-cut advantages in time management, especially when whole-body EMS is used, we can expect this method to see increasing use in high-performance sports.”
Well, we all know what I'm talking about ... the world has been shut down by the virus and we all seem to be playing a role in one of those Hollywood disaster blockbuster movies - which scientists will come up with the antidote? Hopefully many as the world's best try to pull something together.
For us track athletes and coaches this is a difficult time (and of course it is for everyone else). We would be gearing up for the season now and hopes would be high about what was going to happen on the track and at the pit, in my case over the next few spring and summer months. Now, we are on a more or less 'lock-down' basis.
I continue to coach by remote means - using wattsapp for me seems to do the job. I'm encouraging athletes and parents where relevant to post and to not only share the workouts and how they're doing them which I post, but also fun snippets - everyone needs to smile at times like this..
I've been coming up with some specific workouts that can be done at home or in confined spaces. The silver lining to all of this I guess is the fact that in the process I'm getting fitter (and hopefully too will many tens of thousands also).
I've just ticked over with my fitness in recent years and not really extended myself - well, I'm no spring chicken either. However, now with no athletes on hand to call on for demos, I guess I'm still lucky enough to be able to do the exercises myself, After all this is over - who knows - I may even enter a masters competition. If I can keep it up I'll definitely be fitter.
Staying in shape and maintaining fitness should be the goals for athletes
Staying in shape and maintaining fitness should be the goals for athletes ... it's likely a long-haul before a return to competition, so take the foot off a bit and train to maintain and also for the enjoyment of being fit. With the warmer months just around the corner, what better way to get out of doors with our daily 'pass', to do some exercises and enjoy nature and indeed life.
This seismic event has put many other things into perspective and I'm sure there will be many bucket-lists being created now. For athletes that bucket-list should include embracing and enjoying once again the ability to compete and to train socially and really appreciate the freedom of being able to run, jump and throw.
BELOW is a real-time workout which you can follow along to, There are three circuits and it should take you about 20-25min, including warm-up and cool-down. It's a specific, well, relatively specific one in regard to what you can do indoors, which will help maintain speed, power and some elements of technique.
Just a few weeks ago, we were jogging a long thinking that all would be okay. Restrictions due to THE CORONA VIRUS were minimal.
From an athletics point of view - small fry in the great scheme of things but more important now individually for what it can do for us mentally, physically and in terms of keeping routine in our rapidly changed lives - the first "hit" came when our governing bodies asked that clubs and coaches stop all things athletics - coaching, meetings committee meetings and so on. This lasted about a week and I know some of us and some of you continued to train albeit in small groups whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. Then "bang" yesterday the tracks and other leisure centres were all closed in the UK. I had thought that this would soon be the case. Gyms and exercise studios are not the best place to be when there's a contagious virus looking for prey.
So, where does that leave us?
I saw the look on young athletes fans when the tracks were closed - they were hit doubly (if not more) ... there would be no school and nowhere to train ... restricted more like constricted. However, it is in everyone's best interests even if they and us adults find it hard to comprehend.
Cancel the Olympics
I coach a couple of athletes who could qualify for the Olympics, Euro Champs and Paralympics but it's just not worth keeping those goals alive for the few ...
If the IOC were brave enough, no sensible enough, they should call off or at least postpone the Games, do this then all elite athletes and coaches could relax, and not feel that they need to strive for something that should not happen (and besides where's the fairness with some athletes having access to facilities to train and others struggling to go for a. walk). UEFA postponed the football Euros until next year, so why can't the IOC follow suit?
Just imagine if the Games which are meant to unify the world actually start to destroy it again.
Even if one of my athletes did somehow qualify for the Games I would personally find it hard to follow them there - how can you socially distance in that environment? Or will part of the selection criteria for the Games be having had the virus!
We are being encouraged at the moment to get out and exercise and to me that should be the current ceiling. A bit of social distancing coaching with a couple of athletes in the park probably won't be a big issue compared to a million people somehow getting to Tokyo from all over the probably still very infected world. I add the part about coaching in the park as it will happen ... and are parents going to send their youngsters out to play on their own????
I have an avenue where I can still coach through my social media and this is not just my own athletes and I hope to be able to produce some more "Restricted Workouts for Athletes" videos (I uploaded the first yesterday - you'll see it below). It's had some great feedback - and I'm not being egotistical but I'm more humbled by the responses thanking me for producing such content (see below below). If I can do a little to help us all get through this then great. We all need to pull together. #togetherathome
Tomorrow (Tue 10th Feb) I’ll be on the Triple Jumpers podcast. I talk about how I got involved in coaching, my training philosophy, the differences between coaching long and triple jump and much more. Markus who’s the brains behind the Triple Jumpers Podcast is doing a great job to raise the profile of the event and I was proud to be an interviewee when the likes of Will Claye, Ben Williams and Omar Cradock, Patricia Mamona and Jeremy Fischer have all been interviewed previously. CLICK HERE to go Triple Jumpers Podcast.
After her 6.42mPb in the Welsh Champs the week before it was off to Lee Valley for the South of England Champs. WATCH JUMPS HERE (ABD BELOW). I had kept the intensity down in the week between the two comps. This is important as when an athlete records a personal best they will have pushed themselves and in particular their neural system to the limit - and this needs time to recover and regenerate. If you don't do this then you run the risk of over-training. So in the intervening week Sarah did not do any jumping or any 100% effort work. We, for example, did build-up runs to 90% intensity one mid-week session and replaced running and doing drills with bars with hands positioned on the hips instead. I did permit a reasonably full on weights session on the Thursday. Well, the prep seemed to have worked as Sarah jumped well again and equalled her old PB of 6.39m and in doing so broke the South of England Champs record which had lasted since 1995. So two CBPs in a week. You'll see a very long no jump in the first round and then the 6.39m and replay, 5.95 from behind the board, then a 6.29m and a run through - there was another NJ. As I've stressed it's important to not always go 100% - your body and mind needs time to recover and adapt. There's now two weeks until her next comp so we will build up again this week and then have a slight taper next week. Our focus and that of Paul (from the seniors) will be the British Trials which take place in Glasgow. The training planning method I use "undulating periodisation" should enable us to achieve multiple peaks in a training year - more on that in another post or video.
Over a number of years I have developed the use of low gym mats for developing the long and triple jump take-off. The mats are positioned variously, for example, on the third last step, and the take-off step, the third last step only and on the penultimate step.
The different positions can produce a different outcome and there are ways to alter the emphasis of the drill by manipulating the mat spacing.
In the first of a two-part series on my youtube channel I go into detail about the use of two mats for establishing a better take-off rhythm, take-off and take-off drive. You can watch the video below.
There have been some questions on the YouTube channel and my Instagram page on the mat spacing - this is my response to one questioner:
... try centring the first mat in the middle of the board, then the third one's centre should be circa 4.90-5.20m. Do experiment, the spacing needs to promote the speed through the last strides, the Jumper should not push from the third ... the contact is flat footed. Note this spacing is for long run-ups, mats would need to be a little closer for shorter run-ups and to manipulate speed if desired. Hope this helps, good luck,
Type of mat
I also had a question on the type of mat that I use ... they are basic judo/gym mats of 1m square that interlock together to make larger sizes. I have added an Amazon link to this page, should you be interested in getting some for yourself. The mats can take a spike and are non-slip. I also use them for triple jump and getting. for example. a longer step phase (i.e. jumper hops onto mat and then steps onto the second which is placed a suitable distance away. I will say more on the use of mat drills for the triple jump (and general jumps conditioning) in another video/blog post.
Do let me know how you get on?
Recently I was asked to do a session for Ireland Athletics, This involved two days in Athlone working with their top long and triple jumpers. As part of my tasks - I produced some course notes - as it were - to support the athletes and coaches learning. Well, I got a little carried away - partly as I know how to use an on-line multi-media magazine creation software programme (Lucid Press). The consequence was more magazine that power-point presentation. So, I thought I would further work on The Jumper and then release it to a larger audience.
You can click on the image to view what I have created and there's also a short video of the content embedded into the page too via YouTube. As of today after not too much promotion 500 people from around the world have taken a look at The Jumper.
Should support be forthcoming (I have set up a Patreon page), then I may do a further "issue" and ask (and hopefully pay) other coaches from the jumps community to contribute.
Let me know what you think.
Within the first issue of The Jumper are:
My thoughts on how to piece training together
Long and triple jump run-up accuracy tips
Weight training for the jumps - limitations and potentialities
Plyometrics and specifically drop jumps
Links to The Triple Jumpers Podcast
The Jumper also contains links to some of the videos on my YouTube channel which further illustrate what's being talked about in some of the articles.
Again do let me know what you think.