Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
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.
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,
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.
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!
I recently interviewed Brazilian Nelio Moura for Athletics Weekly Nelio is one of the top jumps coaches around. He coached both 2008 Olympic long jump champions - Panama's Irving Saladino and his own countrywoman Maurren high Maggi.
Nelio will be coming over to the UK in October to give a presentation (should you be interested in attending then please email me your details and I will forward them on to England Athletics - who are organising the visit).
In the meantime here's a snippet of the interview I did with Nelio. I'll add some more aspects of it over the forthcoming months to my blog and do also look out for the full interview on the AW website.
Nelio talks to John
John: You are known for your use of assisted plyometrics, where did you get the idea from and how do you incorporate them into your training? Do you place more importance on plyometrics than weights, for example, and how necessary do you actually think weights are for a jumper?
Nelio: The idea came from the sprinter’s assisted running, even though we now know it works differently. I began using it at the end of the 90’s. I found some Japanese studies talking about it, and I wanted to try. The results have been good so far.
The core of my programme is the strength training. Plyometrics develop strength in a very specific way, so I consider it extremely important. However, I also use weights (mostly free weights), whenever possible combining it with plyos.
John: Please describe a couple of assisted plyo exercises?
Nelio: The most discussed and studied is the double-leg assisted vertical jump. We use elastic ropes to “reduce” the weight around 20%, and do sets of reactive vertical jumps. One obvious progression is to do single-leg vertical jumps, but this is pretty intense, only for very advanced athletes.
John: What are your key 5-6 exercises, for a long jumper? (from all potentialities)
Nelio: Running (sprinting) skills are a top priority for long jumpers (and triple jumpers as well). I like running over small hurdles to teach them form and rhythm.
Preparation for the take-off and the take-off itself are probably the two most important phases in the long jump. So, the other exercises I use the most are related to these phases: 1) combinations of three consecutive take-offs, with one step between them; 2) combinations of three consecutive take-offs, with three steps between them; 3) long jumps with medium approach, take-off from a 5 cm high box; and 4) long jumps with medium approach, step onto the 5cm box at the penultimate support and take-off from the board.
John: If you were coaching a young developing long jumper, what are the key things you would focus on?
NM: Sprinting mechanics, approach run – take-off transition and the take-off itself. Accuracy is also a big concern since early on…
Nelio has also written a book detailing much of his conditioning methods - Pliometrica
If you are interested in a copy then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I have found the book to be very useful especially the chapter on assisted plyometrics. Okay it's written in Portuguese but three are English summaries - but with many photos of the drills is reasonably easy to follow - unless of course you speak Portuguese!!
Below you'll find my latest YouTube video on two specific sprint drills - these work both nearside and frontside mechanics and when put together I've found that they really can directly improve sprint technique. Please take a look and do subscribe to the channel.
We're about a third into the season in the UK and there's a bit of a divide between how the younger squad are doing and how the older ones are.
Young athletes are vessels full of PBs and technical and physical development ... give them the right training and they will improve (hey, even the wrong training may even get them results ... for a while ... ). With older athletes their PB days will be far less frequent and the sport becomes more serious and one of incremental improvement.
Two halves of the coin
The younger side
So, I have 6 athletes I coach going to this weekend's English school - some of these, as befits the standard of the "Schools" are ranked in the UK's top 10 for their various age groups. For them the "Schools" are like a mini Olympics and it's both exciting and a little intimidating for them. I have to try to manage expectation and perspective. I want them to do well and progress but still have them around in 3,4,5 years and beyond entering the senior ranks. It's at that age when we want to see them at their best and not at 13, 14, 15. It's difficult sometimes to moderate young athletes (and their parent's) desires and goals ... but hopefully I will be able to make them all be aware of the longer term picture.
The older side
Speaking of this other side, the older athletes have started well, well well enough. Managing expiation is also an issue here too. PBs, as mentioned will be harder to obtain, as will be the standards to get the Champs that are available to them - Worlds, Olympics and so on. Some athletes will realise that they'll be less likely to achieve such goals and will set their own targets and this reflects reality and maturity and love of the sport and that desire to be better, to get better as an individual, whether they be jumping 7m or 6m for that matter. For those that are in the limbo area between being a high ranking national athlete and trying to gain selection for a major champs it can be frustrating. The standards set are very high - higher than what they are in perspective for the English Schools or junior championships. There's a literal big jump between the 7.50-odd required for the World Juniors and the 8.17m I believe required for the Worlds. And it can take years to bridge the divide and progress to elite athlete. It takes more than talent, it takes perseverance and time and the falling together of the right circumstances, coach, facilities, time to train and so on.
Briding the divide
Young athletes really have less to worry about - they're not paying the mortgage, for example! It's easier to focus at school or as a student on athletics ... senior athletes go about their business often without fanfare and less "progression" championships to step to and from. That's the serious end of the sport and it's the most difficult one and much respect must go to those amateur athletes who train almost as hard as the few professionals .... hopefully some of the seniors in my group will ultimately bridge the gap and reach major games and hopefully the younger ones will see their successes at an early age as just that and as a way forward toward "bigger" success and really significant PBs.
Holiday programme scheme
This school summer holidays we will be running twice weekly coaching sessions at the David Weir centre in Sutton from Mon 22nd July for 4 weeks (Mondays and Thursdays 11-1). Email me at email@example.com for further details
It deals a little with athlete expectation as well as letting you come along with us on our recent trip to France to compete in Artois