We coaches will try to help athletes who don’t compete so well. We may suggest the learning of a script that they repeat over and over again in the months prior to competition. This script could focus on key technical requirements, such as positioning into the board in the long jump; front side mechanics and staying relaxed when at max velocity in the 100m and so forth. The aim being that the repeated practise of this “list” will embed it in the athlete’s mind so that in the heat of competition that voice says “stay relaxed”; “position onto the board” and so on. Then there’s a list that could be created to create greater confidence and reduce competition anxiety. Simply repeating “I am calm, confident and well-prepared” can trigger off those emotions that are being described by the words. Smiling (or trying to) can help change mood state. However, as with physical training, these technical and competition preparation readiness lists/words/gestures, need constant practise. The unconscious mind is apparently more of a nagging negative rather than a happy, uplifting positive one.
This is a paragraph from an article I'm writing for Athletics Weekly, I'll share more in time, but it's - in this stand alone format here - to act as a stimulation - a probe to make coaches think about their role in how their athletes perform. In writing the article I began to realise how crucial our leadership/personality and communicative ability is. Scary! Rather like an athlete who fails to address "how to compete" because they are fearful of addressing potentially personal issues - the same can apply to us stopwatch and tape measure holders...
Our focus needs it seems to be turned inwards as much as outwards... more to come.
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The number of questions I'm being asked through my youtube channel and Instagram page has began to increase and it's proving difficult to answer them all - particularly if people ask for me to take a look at their technique. I'll do what I can and in consequence I've started to make some videos that analyse the technique of some jumpers from around the world - so far I've looked at a long jumper from Egypt and two triple jumpers from the USA.
I also try to write responses to some of the questions posed on the YT channel in particular and also have attempted to answer some of these in a more VLOG style through specific videos on the YT channel.
Below you'll find an answer to a question about plyometric training and the degree of knee bend vis a vis triple extension;
Q: Hi I was just wondering when we do the drop jumps, should we extend our legs fully and go into triple extension (hips ankles and knees unlocked) after we land or should be just bounce up keeping the same knee and hip angle while reacting? Sakarumaster
A: I do both variants with the guys in my group to a degree... however, the key is keeping the transition from the eccentric element of the jump to the concentric one minimal i.e. you need to move as quickly as possible between the stretch and reflex. If you bend the knees too much and lower and lift, the drop jump becomes more of a counter-movement jump. For the long jump and triple jumps, for example, the time spent between the eccentric and concentric elements of the jump/jumps needs to be minimised. However, particularly for the triple there is more flexion (bend) at the knee through the take-off phases, hence there being some variation as to degree of knee bend in training with plyos. Note though that the plyometric exercise will often determine the degree of knee bend, and as long at the athlete is not "lowering to go up as it" were and is maintaining (relatively) a stiff contact, then I believe this is fine. Contact times are slower for the step-jump phases compared to the long jump take-off, for example.
It's the combination between lower degree of knee bend jumps; low height, very stiff contact drop jumps, straight leg hops, higher more degree of flexion drop jumps and similar bounds that will condition what's required. And to this we must add the need to do eccentric work i.e. drop & block landings to really create greater leg stiffness, elasticity and reactivity. I'd always go with stiffer over more compliant though as a rule of thumb. Tendons engage over a much smaller range of movement than muscles and create the tension, elasticity in the muscle, I believe by as much as 70% in terms and the shallower knee angle engages them particularly - another reason for keeping knee bend to a minimum.
Here's a video that answers some questions posed through the channel on: eccentric training, sprint start and triple jump phase ratio
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