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Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
Choosing a coach
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This Thursday sees an article in Athletics Weekly penned by yours truly. I follow-up on a previous article which was written by Dr Josephine Perry on the same subject (Choosing a coach). Josephine talks about coaching and ego and makes suggestions as to how athletes should find a coach that has an ego that's kept in check! In my follow-up I agree, but also note that coaches (like athletes) do need an ego. And I also provide a number of reasons as to what athletes should look for in a coach. My comments are written, in a way, from the coach's perspective too. They take into account what I, as a coach, may also expect. Here's a snippet and do check out the magazine.
1. Look for coaches who have had success with numerous athletes over a period of time
It’s easy for a coach to become ‘well-known’ if they coach a top athlete – but talent may be just as responsible for that athlete’s success as the coach’s ability. A coach who year in year out delivers will have the greater consistency and accrued learning
2. Following on, don’t think that not coaching an elite athlete makes a coach of lesser importance. Many argue that the best coaches should in fact be working with the youngest of athletes, teaching them the best habits and optimising their technical ability. So, look for a coach who has improved young athletes consistently.
3. Try to find a coach who has a consistency – a methodology. And ask them what that is. Obviously, more mature athletes will be in a better position to reflect on and question that methodology. On that note, be prepared to suggest to the coach ideas that you think will work for you. Build up trust overtime.
4. Beware of a 'one-size fits all' coaching philosophy. It can be difficult for a coach to not give all athletes the same session (trust me I know), but not everyone will respond the same.
5. Choose a coach that is confident and has a personality (it does not need to be loud or overly charismatic) but one that you think you can get along with. However, make sure that your coach will listen as well as make decisions.
There are more pointers in the article....
I've now started to post some exclusive content in the community section. This is for subscribers, so far I've posted an overview of an actual workout we did (at the time of writing, two Saturdays back) and also an 'exercise of the session'. These are just short videos that contain the the type of content just mentioned and similar. So, do sign-up to the channel to get these and other exclusive content.
Here's an example:
You have to start somewhere!
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Last weekend (Jan 20th) the older group members had their first competition. Did it go well?
Well, not as well as we probably hoped for, but nevertheless the performances were still encouraging. The comp was the south of England's at the Lee Vally Centre, London. Jonathan jumped 15.60m in the triple jump and second place. Allison managed 12.29 in the women's event for 5th. These were not bad performances and ones which going on past years would still rank them around 10-15 in the country at the end of the season. But they will do better. Earlier Paul jumped 7.13m in the long jump for fourth,
There's always going to be some timing issues and confidence issues brought on by nerves and the 'pressure' of a comp especially in the horizontal jumps. From my coach's perspective, I could see timing issues and run-up issues. The later are minimal but enough to disrupt those crucial steps into the take-off, where the jump, whether triple or long, is set up. Jonathan, for example, was shortening too much to get onto the board and this will diminish the potential range of movement he can get from the hop - the phase that sets the jump up.
I'll not go into great detail here as partly in response to this completion and the teething problems, I'm working on a 'triple jump faults and fixes' video that should be up on the YT channel pretty soon. Making the videos 'forces' me to really analyse what the jumpers are doing and it hopefully will help others who have similar faults. So, do look out for it.
However your season started don't fuss, invariably if you have trained specifically enough to get you in competition shape, it will take one or two comps to get you fully into the grove. Think about the process rather than the outcome and the distances (and times) will come.
In the video below you'll see some of the action from the group's jumpers in the SEAA champs.
As I indicated in my previous post the indoor season is upon us. In this video I update on how we are preparing and getting ready to enter the indoors. We cover the type of training we do, how to maintain strength and power whilst competing and the need to still look ahead to the summer.
What training are you doing?
I was recently asked by Athletics Weekly to write an overview article on what makes for a good training regime. As the article is not out for a few weeks I can't say too much, however, I thought I would whet your appetite as to what's included with these two points.
A training regime is not just about the 'physical content' i.e. the sessions and the workout content, it's much more holistic and includes diet and nutrition, for example, as well.
Don't chop and change your regime
You need a training regime plan that’s suited to your age, level of ability and training maturity, for example. This may take some time to get right and this is where your experience, reflection and feedback and that of your coach comes into play. Once this programme is established and it’s getting results then unless there is very good reason (such as injury, change in the amount of time you have to train), then your training plan is best only tweaked, rather than revised wholescale.
Now, this does not mean that your training plan should not cycle through various phases (micro, meso and macro phases as they are called), your training has to evolve, and change to create long lasting adaptation. But that’s just it, if you are a ‘training programme butterfly’ then you’ll not derive the adaptation that adhering to a systematic, but cyclical regime will achieve.
Do plan your competitions and know your peaks
Competitions are what you train for, all those miles will be a bit of a waste, for example, if you don’t line up against your peers to test your mettle. However, competitions are stressful – they drain you not only physically but mentally. Do too many and you run the risk of burning yourself out. Conversely do too few and you may never reach peak and PB busting levels. So, plan the main competitions you will be focussing on for the winter (indoors, cross-country, for example) and then for the summer (road, track for example). It’s best to work back from the main comp and ‘fit’ your training plan into this, so that it leads and guides you to your goals. Having that focus back in January will enable you to motivate yourself to push toward that August target/target. And it will also make that target meaningful – so that when the days of the important competitions, you will be fired up and ready to put all that training into practice.
Training Group Update
It's coming into the competition period for the older athletes in my training group. Three-four at least will be aiming for good performances in the British trials which take place early Feb. There may be an outside chance of some making the team for the European Champs which are in Glasgow this year in March, So, do look out for updates on this blog and the youtube channel.
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As some of you will know part of my working life (perhaps I could say vocational life) involves writing. I'm the Performance section editor for Athletics Weekly, for example, This magazine has been in existence since the second world war! I remember reading it when I was at school!
A recent article I had to edit triggered some thoughts - these related to choosing a good coach. In the article the author pointed to a number of factors that an athlete should take into account when making their choice. One was avoiding coaches who don't listen and have a too big ego! Very fair points indeed. This then got me thinking about coaches and ego - so much so that I have penned a follow-on piece, where I address coach selection as it were from the position of the coach.
In pulling the article together it did seem to me that coaches need to have an ego, as athletes do. They need to be motivated and energised. They also need to believe in their coaching philosophy. And this is where some ego is important. However, they must not become intransigent and so ego led that, the coach's ears and mind are closed to new ideas and ways of training and athlete in-put.
I also reflected on my own coaching practise and realised that when I began coaching my ego was probably more over-sized that it is now. "I thought I knew everything there was to know about long jump!". However, I soon realised that I didn't and that I actually had to learn more and keep learning at that to be a better coach. I also had to be willing to ask for help and advice. I think many coaches are afraid to be found out. Found out that they don't know as much as their athletes and peers think they know. Nobody can know everything. Coaches need to be able to develop themselves and they need to be open and not so ego-led (or scared to ask) that they stunt their own development.
Here's a sign of a willingness to share the bad (well, not so good) as well as the good... last Sat I went along to the first meeting of the indoor season for the group, Jonathan was competing in the triple. It was a low key meet, but he was motivated to perform. He looked brilliant in warm-up, but on his second run through he struck the board really hard and tweaked a hamstring. It's not serious as he was able to run and do drills yesterday but nevertheless it's disappointing. Although this was probably one of those things, I have started to reflect as to whether there was anything that we did (or didn't do) in training that could have created this situation.
The first comp of the season all be filled by more adrenaline that usual - you'll move faster and may lose some technical focus. Make sure you are in control of what you are doing and focus on the process of your event (technique) rather than the outcome (distance). Get the process right and the distances will come.
Good luck this season and do let me know how you get on!
New Year Wow! 2019 is HERE
First off, Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have a great training, athletic and fitness year and that you achieve all your goals (and of course everything else goes well off the track, out of the gym and so forth!)
I'll still be coaching and am looking forward to seeing personal bests from the athletes at all stages of their development in their career. Regular readers of this blog and viewers of my Youtube channel will know that I try to post content regularly - around once a week. However, I'm only going to post what I consider is relevant content, I don't really fancy being a youtuber with the pressure of 'having' to post - although sometimes I have felt it. The channel has being steadily progressing. This time last year I had just over 1000 subs and now it's getting close to 6000, with a couple of thousand views a day! That's a coaching session and it obviously displays the need for similar content. Perhaps the IAAF or European Athletics should focus more on social media development of the sport otherwise they risk creating a too polished (albeit potentially great) version of the sport that is built on very shaky foundations. Athletes are the lifeblood of the sport, the hundreds of thousands I wager who run, jump and throw around the world. I know they exist as I get contacted from all over the world and my analytics shows countries that I have vaguely only heard of.
I'd like to conclude this post by thanking those who support this blog and the YT channel and to wish you a Happy New Year (again!)!
Oh, I met a young man from the UK who is an inspirational figure and I wanted to get him on the YT channel. Jordan Harry is his name, he teaches memory techniques and speed reading and how to create winning habits to young people all over the world. He's also a triple jumper. I asked Jordan to produce some video for me, and in his very eloquent way he did. He talks in detail about how you can improve your reading habits for example and why this can improve your event performance and learning in general. Do spend the time to checkout the video and his website..