It's suddenly turned cold in the UK in London with temperatures falling below zero. We're lucky where we train in that there's an indoor arena, which is lovely and warm. But the cold did make me think of all those athletes in the UK and elsewhere in "track world", who are not so lucky. It's much harder to sprint and jump when the weather is so cold (of course you could be based in Florida!).
Now we do venture outside to train (when it's not too cold!), some sessions work better outside and there's also that slightly "old-school, toughen em up attitude" that makes outdoor training a good thing. We always go through a phase of hills before Christmas. This involves about a half-mile run and then some drills and plyometrics performed on a bridge that crosses the dual carriage way. You'll see us out there in the video embedded in this post. The runs are over about 70m and they are completed at about 80 percent. Recovery is sufficient to allow for this speed to be maintained.
Otherwise we are now starting to progress jumping beyond just take-off drills and have began positioning work into the board for both the long and triple jump and have so-far progressed back to 8-10 strides. We won't want to hang around for too long off the short approaches as jumping out of speed is key. However, I have found that you need to introduce the athletes "comfortably" to jumping after a couple of month of no "real" jumps. Mid December should see us jumping off of 14-16 strides in prep for the indoor season.
Speed work is now much more directed with runs being completed at near to 100 percent - albeit in trainers - over distances up to 40m. We always maintain acceleration training as this is also a power developer. Likewise plyometrics and drop jumps are crucial to my plans - we did a session last night where we worked on leg stiffness - trying to hop and do double leg jumps with as little knee bend as possible (as opposed to powering through jumps). I want the jumpers to be able to react to the ground with little effort using the natural elasticity of their legs.
Weights-wise, it's a heavy low rep phase, using for example, 4 x 5 reps at 85 percent 1 rep max. A couple of key lifts are performed at this intensity in the session... then 3-4 other exercises are performed at a lower intensity and are more for developing robustness purposes, rather than anything else. The central nervous system will only be able to power a few high intensity sets and reps and then it becomes less able to do so and the exercises would then become less dynamic.
Take a look at the video to see some of what I've just said in action and good luck with your training and competition and do sign-up to the YouTube channel. Many thanks, John
I've been going through the presentations I filmed and recorded bit by bit from my recent trip to the European Jumps & Hurdles Symposium in Sweden and have just edited two parts of Jeremy Fischer's practical presentation. In it Coach Fischer showcases exercises and drills used to create greater stability in athletes. He uses various tests in order to asses bilateral strength and proprioception issues and has further exercises that he uses to correct issues. The coach uses the tests and corrective exercises regularly in order to monitor improvement and ensure that all is as optimum as it should be. A very valid point is made i.e. if force is misdirected when running and jumping then performance will be reduced. The drills and explanations are provided in order to address this.
Take a look at the video and you'll be able to easily implement, should you wish, the exercises Coach Fischer illustrates. As coaches we can often neglect these stability exercises in favour of ones that target power and speed enhancement but as the old saying going 'you can't fire a cannon out of a canoe'. In order to max the application of force you need a very stable base. Take a look at the video and let me know what you think,
Tony Ganio and myself hosted a long and triple jump masterclass at Sutton Arena – David Weir Leisure Centre. The two-hour event was well attended with around 24 athletes and 8 coaches from mainly Surrey and Sussex.
The session was designed to cover basic elements of long and triple jump – basic not in terms of simplicity, but in terms of cornerstones of performance and conditioning. So we looked at drills designed to improve ground contact and posture etc; the key positioning requirements of the long jump & triple jump take-off; run-up structuring/phasing drills; and covered some elements of conditioning, such as drop jumps and medicine ball exercises.
We received positive feedback and hope to repeat the format focussing on a different performance elements in future. We also have ideas for developing small group sessions and workshops, involving other event coaches and athletes. So do watch this space.
You can find out exactly what we did by clicking on this link:
You’ll be able to download a digital booklet, which includes video links from my YouTube channel which support the learning. (You can further download from the digital version a PDF format one which you can then store on your device – video and other links will still work).
If you would like to find out more about the courses and sessions we intend to organise and/or would like to know of forthcoming coaching events then please use the sign-up box on this site.
European Jumps & Hurdles Convention
Falun Sweden, Nov 10th-12th 2017
Words John Shepherd (trying to be serious and a bit funny)
Thanks to England Athletics and European Athletics, and specifically the on-site management and hosting of Swedish Athletics, Falun, Sweden was the venue for the European Hurdles & Jumps Convention.
It was a very bright (not-so bright for me) and early start for the Heathrow-airport-travelling-party of coaches. I arrived in the departure lounge just in time (!) for the 7.15am flight to Stockholm. Femi Akinsanya, Jade Surman, Guy Spencer, Piotr Spas, Zac Kerin, James Hillier and Graham Pilkington made up the rest of the team (with Graham travelling if I recall from Manchester).
The two-hour flight passed quickly. Sitting with Femi and Zac conversation inevitably focussed on jumps (and social media, with one of the trio not having an Instagram account, shock-horror!). After clearing customs it was then a train journey to Falun. The boring bit… Falun is the capital of Dalarna County and has a population of around 38,000. So, yep, it’s a small city, but it’s a world heritage site, due to its copper mining history… fast forward… it’s also home to Dalarna University where we were based and a ski-slope. Inevitably some comparisons were made between ski jumping and long jumping and whether any of the England party fancied a jump! Thankfully no one decided to have a go (well, at least unbeknownst to me… ).
The ‘proper’ events of long and triple jumping and hurdle jumping (!) soon received our attention when an hour or so after landing we began the lecture and practical programme. It was to be a bit of an “endurance jumps session”, and at least one of the party did succumb to bleary-eye syndrome in some of the lectures. The one without a proper job err that might be me. This was not because the information presented was not of interest but due to the full-on nature of the weekend (and the lack of sleep due to the early flight). Zac pulled, what we used to call an all-nighter back in the day, travelling straight from Bournemouth to Heathrow after coaching on virtually no sleep. What a star! He probably wasn't the only one.
Up first after the introductions was a lecture: From talent to Elite Athlete and then another From World Class Athlete to Coach for Talented Athletes. You’ll see the full programme attached and the speakers - it’s not my intention to go into specifics about all the sessions – which would require me to author a book.
Back at the hotel after the session (and as would happen after Saturday’s programme), and with some of the group partaking in a few beers (am I allowed to say that? Perhaps it’ll be censored), discussion turned to the lecture content. You can’t hide from this – many of you reading this who will have attended similar conferences whatever the field - will voice opinion good, bad, stupid and comedic on what they sat through.
Of course there’s going to be shall we say respectful constructive criticism but there’s also going to be discussion on what was learned, gleaned or provoked and food for thought, and this was perhaps the real value of the three-day programme. None of us suddenly came away revolutionised, but we all came away with a snippet or two, an idea, a reinforcement of our learning and development, some more theory and some new drills. Evolutionised might be the best way to put it.
The difficulty with these type of conferences is appealing to all the coaches that attend. Some inevitably will know more than others about a particular topic and therefore either be more (or potentially less) interested in what the speaker has to say. That can’t be helped. But talking to other country’s coaches informally and listening to their lecturers formally does open your eyes (especially when you’re struggling to keep them open).
Here are some of the snippets that kept my eyes open…
Early Specialisation The German Federation’s move away from u18 and u20 national champs for a number of years only to return to them a good few years later, coupled with a drive for their young athletes to also achieve a ‘B’ standard in another related event before they could enter their national champs. All designed to allow for controlled, shall we say, avoidance of heavy early specialisation…
The slightly contradictory messages about early specialisation… Very briefly, 90% of a studied cohort (266 finalists) from the World Youths improved; 49% went onto the World Juniors; and 21% participated in the senior world champs and Olympic Games – over time of course). Then Jeremy Fischer (coach to e.g. Will Claye and Brittany Reese) said that none of those he has coached that have made Olympic and World teams had success as juniors… err “… there is very little correlation to senior level… you have to bridge that gap.” Confused.com… well, perhaps not really as athletic development rests on so-many factors and even periods in time and research paradigms and practical and specific experience.
Reactive strength and the role of the Achilles tendon and its length and how this could affect jumping events and performance… shorter tendons allow for greater leg stiffness and longer ones require greater amortization which results in longer ground contact times… debate about how and whether this can and should be changed through specific training…
The triple jump can be seen as the hop-jump-land – not jump due to often poor execution of the jump phase – some ideas were forwarded to work on this i.e. blocking the arms at jump phase take-off to make it more propulsive.
That the traditional model of skill acquisition and windows in young athletes is incorrect, well, at least for athletes - they can develop and respond outside of the specified years i.e. for speed, strength and aerobic development (probably common-sense when you think about it).
That 1970’s – 1980’s TV was pretty rubbish… oops that was not on the lecture schedule… Love thy Neighbour anyone….
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