Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
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.
I was particularly interested in what Ivana's coach Goran had to say. I had analysed her technique for one of the other videos on the channel ("What we can learn from Ivana Spanovic" see videos at end of article) and it turned out that Goran had actually watched it! I sort of knew that the coach might have seen it as throughout the first presentation of his on tonus training, he had made some eye-contact and then asked me a question. I actually caught up with Goran after the session and spent a good half an hour chatting to him ... small world! The sessions from Goran which the video focusses on considered how he had trained Ivana since she was 15 years old. Goran was very open with his sharing of information telling us what weights she lifted and what her training looked like, indeed he showed us numerous micro-cycles and yearly plans. One thing that stood out for me was his use of traditional linear periodisation and block periodisation. The former is used up until circa the indoor season when the latter takes over. Goran also told stories of the pressure Spanovic faced when the European indoors were in her native Serbia and also in the lead up to the Rio Olympics when the weight of her country's expectation were also on her. Incidentally, he also blamed himself for when his athlete's number trailed in behind her at the London world champs, possibly losing her the gold medal. The rule on wearing rear numbers was subsequently changed after the long jumper's misfortune. Another stand-out feature of his presentation was the explanation and thought that went into how Ivana changed her jumping style in the light of how Daryia Klishina jumped (Ivana went from a stride jump to a sail). He also talked about Ivana's take-off and the pushing of the foot in front of the centre of mass - something that I had noticed when studying her technique. You can see a detailed explanation about this and the other topics mentioned in this video Ivana Spanovic & Goran Obradovic - What makes her a great jumper LINK https://youtu.be/X-O-1Zgr09s
European Jumps & Sprints Symposium Sweden
Last weekend I went to Karlstad in Sweden and met up with around 100 coaches mainly from Europe to watch various practical and theory sessions, taken by many of the world's leading coaches.
The event is run every two years and is organised by Swedish Athletics. I was lucky enough to have visited two years previously when the event was in Falun. The symposia always take place in Sweden.
There were numerous presentations of great interest and I filmed and recorded some of them. Attached to this post is the practical session taken by Yannick Treago on warming up and the penultimate step and take-off for the long jump. Yannick has coached numerous elite jumpers, including legendary triple jumper Christian Olsson and currently long jumper Thobias Montler - you can see much of the session in the video. I was very interested in the thoughts on take-off and the role of the arms and a different inflection on this (and the penultimate step). I say different as Yannick's views mirrored those of Brazilian, double Olympic gold medal winning long jump coach Nelio Moura - who presented in the UK a few weeks back (you can see his thoughts on take-off and the arms also on the YouTube channel and via the previous post). It's odd, that as far as I am aware, we in the UK don't work this higher lift arm action ... I have been trying it out and I think it could well be the way to go. So, look out for some commentary on that in future videos and posts.
It's been a busy period for me despite it being the supposed "off-season". The off-season is the time when winter training begins and plans are made for the indoor season and the outdoors, As I get older the months seem to fly by and this fast forward of time is perhaps not helped by the "looking forward" to the next track season ... it's a case of wishing for it to speed forward so that the improvements in the athletes being coached can be really seen and appreciated.
Anyway, back to the present and this off-season! Recently I got to meet top jumps coach Nelio Moura, Regular readers of this blog or viewers of the YouTube channel will know that I have interviewed him in the past - for Athletics Weekly magazine.
It was great to catch up with Nelio at Loughborough University over a coaching clinic weekend organised by England Athletics. Nelio took four sessions , two practical and two more theory. These covered plyometrics, take-off drills for long and triple jump, has coaching journey and also the more technical aspects of the long and triple.
It was interesting to find out that Nelio's first successes as a coach was with a race walker! He was a triple jumper himself but soon moved into coaching and he now coaches with his wife and daughter. Nelio spends time at present between Sao Paolo, China and Madrid coaching. Why the latter two, well he has been working with Chinese jumpers for a while, so the trips to China make sense. And Madrid, well that is where the Chinese and some of his Brazilian and south American jumpers congregate from time to time in the summer to train.
I enjoyed the weekend with Nelio and was lucky enough to have a couple of chats on my own with him and pick-up a little more knowledge.
I am in the process of pulling together some videos from the weekend and the first is now live on the channel - this is on plyometrics. (You can watch it from the box below). Next up will be one on his thoughts on take-off. The two videos will cover the practical sessions taken by Nelio. I may try to pull together some comment on the more theoretical ones.
Good luck with your training and competitions,
Is the title of this video click-bait ... ??? I don't think so.
To get the most from your long, triple and sprint conditioning what you do away from the pit or the track needs to be transferable and relevant. There are many who swear by weight training and "need" to lift weekly - however, there are many who lift much less sparingly without their performances suffering. and in fact improving.
If you are a regular reader of this blog or watcher of my YT channel videos you'll know that I don't place weights at the top of my "conditioning hierarchy". I'd rather spend time working on technique and speed and using plyometrics and sets of different sprint drills to develop what's required. I do however, see weights as having a role and that's to create robustness - that required to withstand injury (but note that this can also be achieved via many other means such as Swiss balls, and body weight exercises). I also value weights for the more conditioned athletes in the group and in particular utilise Triphasic methods - that's combining eccentric and isometric weights exercises with the much more common - and dare I say after a while, less important - concentric one.
Also, by combining weights and plyos into a workout (Contrast/Complex training) you are more likely to get a heightened fast twitch muscle fibre and motor unit response - so this is something that we do regularly.
The video below goes into more detail about my thoughts on what weight training to do to really improve your sprinting and jumping. It also looks at the limitations of a more traditional approach.