Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
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.
It's been a busy end to the season for me and it seems that I'll be back into coaching before I've had time to think and rest up! What with the schools national multi-events final in Exeter at the end of September training had to continue for the three athletes involved - who incidentally did really well with 4th, 5th and 9th places in three different age groups. However, it's now time to start back with the main group again and their long and triple jump preparations for 2020.
This year I did manage to have a sit down and chat with a couple of the older athletes and we discussed what we might like to change and add into training for the next training year. There will be some small changes, mainly on the conditioning front - which I'll say more about on this blog or in another video on my YouTube channel. Last year we did more eccentric work and more sprint work too and it seemed to work. Over my time coaching I have found it's very much a case of "what you do but what you don't do". There are lots of relatively superfluous exercises and drills that are really a bit of a waste of time.
The latest video on my YouTube channel is relevant in this respect and is linked below. It's all about pre-training and drills, for example, which we do do. Pre- training is all about doing exercises designed to combat and reduce injury potential.
We do these across the whole training year with the thought process being that they will continue to strengthen the body and make it more robust. Without wishing to tempt fate, it must be working, as few of the athletes in the group suffer from strains and sprains.
My YouTube channel now has over 12k subscribers and seems to be developing nicely ... so thanks to all of you who have supported it and do check out the Jumps Squad gear that I'm now able to produce - T-shirts, hoodies and even phone cases.
As a coach I know how important accurate timing is. In my primary event the long jump you really want to know how fast the jumper is travelling into the board over the last 10m, for example, and also importantly what their flying 20m and standing 20m sprint times are.
And for the 100m sprinter you might want to know 0-10m, 10-20m, 20-30m and 40m times. The problem is how can you do that with a stopwatch and without the type of kit that the IAAF rolls out at championships?
Enter Freelap the timing system which offers a very neat and extremely accurate (to 2-milisec) solution.
I've used the system for over a year now and have found it to be a great motivation for the athletes. As soon as those TX Junior Pro Timing pyramids are placed on the track or run-up the guys really respond and run as fast as they can.
So, not only is there the benefit of accurate timing but also of motivating higher intensity from the athletes. Win-win I guess.
The system is also easily set-up, very portable and has great consistency of operation.
If you are interested in buying a system ...
Please email email@example.com to discuss bespoke options and prices.
The video below will showcase more
Some further thoughts on use and my experiences ...
Like all tech the best way to learn is to play around with the kit to gain familiarity - once this is done it's important to consider and note the following.
The settings on the Tx Junior Pros (transmitter pyramids) - these need to match what you aim to time.
Here are some examples:
For a standing sprint with just end time required, the end transmitter is set to "finish" and the TX Touch Pro (start button) is used to start timing. This is a black disc with a button that is depressed with the thumb which is released when the athlete starts, thus triggering the system,
For flying times you need to set one TX Junior Pro to “start” and the end one to “finish”. The time will commence after the athlete passes the first transmitter.
For track intervals, for example, 200m reps place one Tx Touch Pro at the start set to start and one TX Junior Pro at the finish set to “finish”. Start your session.
Don't walk back past the TX Junior Pro at the finish as this will trigger the system when not needed – of which more later. You need to keep a 1.5m radius around the TX Junior Pro when wearing the FX Chip BLE (transmitter - which is the size of a small digital watch and fits on the athlete's waistband of their shorts/tights).
For improved and consistent accuracy you need to set the Tx Junior Pro receivers 80cm off the point/points you want to measure at for sprints, hurdles, intervals and long/triple jump. Why? The Tx Junior Pros pick up and store the speed of the moving athlete 80cm before them - thus, over a sprint you could have a time “inaccuracy” of 160cm with the start and finish accounted for, if you don’t position as instructed. The “add-on” 80cm also applies to split-time positioning.
Because of the Tx Junior Pros also 1.5m operating radius, freelap can time two athletes in adjacent lanes, which you can’t easily do with most accessible to athletes/coaches other timing systems (which can also take up three lanes to record an athlete in one – what with their tripods). You will need another FX Chip BLE to do this.
The app is an objective systematic coaching “diary”. It stores the times from the session of all the athletes and does this historically, so you as coach (and the athlete)s, can track their progress. You can specifically name each session and its content. (Note: all the training group can download the Myfreelap app and see their performances.)
It’s even possible for the coach to be at home, with the app open, and to be able to “virtually” see a session unfold. You give the freelap system to your athletes, they set it up as required, do the session and you’ll see how they are performing (hook this up with facetime or a wattsapp video and you’ll be even able to see the session too. - this is something I’ve yet to try!
I'm pulling an interesting article together for Athletics Weekly (aka AW) on sprint technique and in particular the height of the heel in the recovery phase for both max velocity and acceleration phases of sprinting. here's a snippet to whet your appetite for the article which will be out later this month.
Contemporary sprint coaching has been placing a greater emphasis on a lower heel recovery or at least a different inflection on how the heel is moved back to front and how this is coached. We will first consider max velocity running and then acceleration.
If the heel is cast out too far behind the body when sprinting then frequency and power transference will tend to be reduced. You'll often see this in sprinters with a pronounced forward lean with "more work being done behind the body".
Key is the position of the foot and the gap between the heel and the bottom as the foot pulls through to the front. If the foot is pulled up as it should be for foot-strike (dorsi-flexed) it will come through to the front as a shorter lever and this will create greater frequency.
Doing this will also create greater power on ground contact, due to the fact that the foot (and leg) has increased velocity (angular velocity) which will in turn create a more powerful impact on the track surface and therefore greater energy return.
I found it really interesting exploring this aspect of sprinting and trying to make sense of what's more coaching inflection and thought rather than sports science based (particularly the case with max velocity phase heel recovery). I have long worked on heel recovery with the jumpers and sprinters in my group. In doing so greater hip power will be developed which is perhaps the real benefit of heel recovery work as the muscles to the front and the rear of the hips are the most important when it comes to sprint speed.
I'll be posting a video on this very shortly in the Sprint Drills series which is proving popular on my YouTube channel. In the meantime here's the latest video in the series which looks at what I call basic drills for specific conditioning purposes.
It’s pleasing that performances for the senior athletes in the group are coming together nicely in preparation for the World Trials. Two have qualified and hopefully another will for the event which takes place in Birmingham toward the end of the month.
I’ve found that younger athletes are able to produce good performances more randomly than senior ones. Probably because they are still learning … learning how to compete and how to use a new technique. Many are still growing and that’s going to have a big effect as well.
All the younger ones have achieved PBs this year and by younger athletes, by the way, I’m referring to those aged 12 to 17-18. The older ones have less ceiling for improvement particularly if they are training mature. I’ve also found that it takes more time for them to perhaps more mentally, rather than physically, get into peak shape. Take Paul and Sarah the two long jumpers, they’re now telling me that they are getting “on top” of their jumping. The speed and the coordination needed to take-off cannot come from training alone. Competition stress often increases speed through adrenaline and training can only take you so far. It can take time to “get your eye in” as it were. It seems that both Paul and Sarah are reaching this state of affairs. Both jumped season’s bests at the weekend gone (Sarah a brace of 6.24m’s and Paul 7.43m). Both also fouled very long no jumps, so fingers crossed there’s a longer jump to come very soon.
The central nervous system and the way it interprets signals is also key, there seems to be a fidelity to how this helps performance … it’s a bit like fine tuning. Remember those old radios which if I recall they had a button to tune into a station and then another to really get the signal crystal clear … it seems that reaching peak condition can be a little like that. There needs to be conscious and unconscious tuning in order to bring the physical and mental aspects of the athlete into a true peak. And of course there’s the effects of the competition itself and the value placed on that competition by the athlete and the way they respond to it. I’m hoping that at the trials all the fine tuning will come to a head and the guys will perform to their very best.
Two new videos up on YouTube channel last week - here they are
And, I must say a big thanks to all those of you who have watched the videos and subscribed as of last week the channel passed 10000 subscribers!