As a coach you can't do everything... no you can't really! Recently I went along to Performance Ground in Holborn, London to watch Jonathan Ilori (our 16m triple jumper) do a session. Performance Ground is a specialist training facility and they work with weekend warriors up to elite athletes. They like to work with people who have a specific end goal and Jonathan certainly does.
You can watch my review of the facility and the workout Jonathan did below. Do take a look at the other content on my channel (see also videos on my site) and if you like what you see - give it a thumbs up and you can even subscribe!
As a coach managing what an athlete "thinks they can do" versus "what you think" they can do can be an issue. Another is performance... you get some athletes who do really well and think they haven't.
Let's take a look at the initial consideration. It's obviously not a great idea to tell an athlete when they say/think they'll jump 8.50m next comp when their pb is 7m. (I've made this up BTW; no one I coach has said or thought that... mind you if one jumps 8.30m, I may come back to this post!). I generally try to remain positive and tell the athlete to focus on the process rather than the outcome and this applies to a number of athlete/coach performance issues/discussions. If an athlete tends to focus on the outcome then there - in my experience - is a likelihood of a negative result. This is why, I guess, selectors for teams, don't seem to like athlete chasing qualifying marks (however, it does beggar the question "well, how are they going to get the time/distance?"). Trying to focus on process i.e. technique will hopefully induce a better flow state than a focus on "going for it" (going for it is fine when you are in a flow state!). Tension breeds stress and this type of stress can impair performance. So I'll focus on key cues that we have been working on in training for example, for the triple jump running through the take-off and going long and waiting for the hop/step contact... hopefully this will manage unrealistic expectation and bring the focus back to realistic performance - performance which can be achieved.
And what of "I did crap" - when the athlete didn't (I'll address what to do in another post, if they did). Now sometimes healthy expectation is good in this respect. The athlete however, with guidance needs to contextualise what's happened - to really see the positives. I've had athletes reach finals of international competitions and been disappointed. Now, this is all about that word context again. If the athlete is a young athlete and has managed to perform with credit (whether that be on the podium or not) then this needs to be focussed on, and the view that the experience is a stepping stone to the next big event emphasised. If the athlete has - in your mind performed very well - but they believe they haven't, then it's a case of perspective, of educating that athlete as to why they did well (and touching on in time, where they can do better. - this does apply to all related scenarios) I also know from experience that the athlete-types who often feel they have underachieved when in reality they haven't are the ones that go on to then win or medal or Pb when they reach the similar level of competition again. It provides the drive. And this indeed is the conundrum... you need "fire in the belly", but this needs to be tempered.
It's often the athletes who responsibly blame themselves i.e. accept responsibility for a bad performance who are the ones that will be more successful. Blaming external factors seems to absolve some responsibility. To perform well you need to control what you can and deal with what you can't.
It seemed like a good idea at the time to run all divisions of the BAL together in one venue. And so Bedford was chosen for the third round of the league in early July.
Athletics needs to experiment and try out new ideas. The burden on team management, officials and athletes & coaches (no one has as much time as they used to - or so it seems) has to be eased somehow, so the "5in1" idea was a good one to try.
As usual when something new comes along there will always be dissenters... and I guess the delays to the event of over an hour in cases did not help with people giving an on-the-day thumbs up. I'm sure when the dust settles and further consideration is given the concept of bringing together the divisions could be maintained next season. Perhaps they should do three leagues together and two together. Another idea which I believe was tabled initially was to run the event over a weekend - which would have reduced time table pressure. But I guess it's all about finding a suitable venue and consensus from the participating clubs. I also wonder whether athletes were considered - they may have some of their own ideas.
Any way back to the action. I made a short video featuring mainly two of my group's jumpers Paul Ogun and Jonathan Ilori - take a look and see how they got on. There's a specific analysis of Jonathan's triple jump (15.44) and also a look at what happened when the athletes rebelled (sort of) against the measuring of jumps.
Live events, London for the trials and Elaine Thompson's shoegate (flats or spikes?)
NiWe made a last minute decision to go to the Diamond League at the Olympic Stadium. The venue is certainly impressive.
Our seats were in a good location - situated at a medium level virtually above and just beyond the finish line. Unfortunately following the long jump closely was not really possible. And it was a shame as there was both a male and female competition, featuring the likes of Jeff Henderson and Ivana Spanovic and Tianna Bartletta - so two Rio Olympic gold medallists. Two big screens in the stadium did afford reasonable intermittent viewing but with all the other field (and track) action going on, not many jumps were shown. Mind you apparently fewer efforts were shown on the TV. I wish they would just put field events in a box in the corner of the screen from time to time, rather that let track action dominate all the time and then go back. Still that's a topic for another day.
The experience of viewing top class athletics live is an interesting one. The atmosphere was much better than the Team GB Birmingham World Trials - could the Olympic Stadium be used to host these? Yep, it wouldn't get the same numbers as the Diamond League turning up, but there seemed to be a knowledgable crowd and a hunger for top sport in London. Birmingham has hosted the trials for years and years so why not make a change? Another option could be to use a smaller venue (than both Birmingham & The Olympic Stadium), that could be filled... a return to the Crystal Palace perhaps??? I'm digressing yet again.
The women's 100m at the DL was a great race with Daphne Schippers being overhauled by Elaine Thompson. Turned into a bit of "shoegate" after with a frenzy on social media on whether Elaine ran 10.94sec in nike trainers and still beat some of the best in the world? And this was into a -1.4 headwind. I'd guess the others in the field would be feeling a bit miffed if this was the case. Hopefully Elaine won't turn up next time, wearing heels and run 10.60!!
Apparently her shoes did have spikes....
According to the Week Thompson said:
The spikes I have I'm not confident with and hurt my Achilles so I am running in my flats" But then she's quoted in the same article as saying: "They have spikes but they are very petitie....
Social media has pictures of the spikeless-spiked shoes!
Okay, to sum up. It was a good experience to watch a Diamond League (and we all enjoyed it, Paul, Alex, Patrick)...
I will give it 7/10. If I had been by the long jump I'm sure my scoring would have been higher. I'm glad I went!
Take a look at the video below and see whether you can spot the type of shoes Elaine was running in. I don't think sneakers is right - but she did sneak up on the others...
I've recently returned from the World School Games in Nancy, France. This is an u18 biennial event and unlike most track meets is based on points scoring. It's rather like a team decathlon. Each team's athletes have to do two events and their scores are added together to see which country's team is victorious - this turned out to be England in a close fought battle with France.
I was there to assist squad member Pippa Earley who was competing in the long jump and hurdles.. The track was just outside Nancy city centre and was easy to reach by public transport. We were very lucky as our hotel was centrally placed and well, virtually on top of the railway station.
Pippa's first event was the long jump. The event was held late afternoon along the back straight on a raised run-up. This was temporarily in place to facilitate getting all the events completed over a two-day period. It had disappeared on Tuesday - the second and final day of competition. Tuesday saw Pippa compete in the hurdles and a medley relay.
Pippa also competed on the Wednesday - the third day in succession. She was lucky to have her events included in the Stanislas Invitation meeting taking place at the same venue. This meet was a permit meeting where top athletes from around the world took part. These included Kim Collins and French favourite Renaud Lavillenie.
I - as I have been doing more of lately - have pulled together a couple of videos on the event, so to save me writing more about what happened, have a look at these!
I will say we had a great time in Nancy - and it's well worth a visit for a city break - due to it's World Heritage Organisation listed Stanislas Place - you'll see it at the end of the first video. The Place was also the opening ceremony venue for the World School Games.