Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
At the recent South of England Championships the senior athletes performed well - so well in fact that we won three of the four horizontal jumps ....
Men's Long Jump
Paul jumped 7.21m for victory but had 3 no jumps which were long. Hopefully he'll get one in over the next few weeks. Paul was also operating off a shorter approach, so once he gets this longer run-up nailed down he should be able to jump that bit further also.
Triple jumper Jonathan was also long jumping - he managed 6.84m but had a no jump over 7m. Jonathan is well capable of a 7.5m jump and indeed his Pb is 7.33m. If he did more comps the chances are that he'd seriously improve on this.
Women's long jump
Sarah opened with 6.19m with a safe-is jump and then elated from this (her third best jump ever) went for it. It's often the case that trying that bit harder does not bring the results one would imagine and unfortunately rather like Paul, she fouled some rather long jumps.
Still this again showed good promise for the season ahead.
Women's triple jump
Allison came 6th with 12.02. We were disappointed with this as she has been showing better from in training and has not had the fortune to 'hit' one in a comp. Hopefully, she'll get close to 13m before the season is out.
Men's triple jump
Potentially 'our' best performance came in the men's triple where Jonathan got legally back over 16m for the first time this year. his best of 16.28m was set in the equivalent meeting last year. It was a shame that the competition became a bit of a speed one as there were only two other jumpers in the field and it must have been one of the quickest competitions I have witnessed. I guess it was testament to Jonathan's and the other's fitness that the jumps did not deteriorate as the quick-fire competition progressed. Jonathan was consistent with a number of jumps between 15.80 and 16.03. The latter ranking him fourth at the moment in the UK. We're looking forward for challenging for a higher ranking.
Over the next few weeks he and Sarah have a meeting in France and there are also some league meetings for them and the others, so watch this space.
This Friday 7th I'll be uploading a video on my YouTube channel that goes into more detail about what happened at the Souths - it will be of relevance to those who just want to see the jumps but also to those who may wish to find out a little bit more about "how to compete".
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PLEASE NOTE I changed the title of this post as I felt it was originally misconstruing the point being made - i.e. that opening a dialogue between the UK coach and the European coach re an athlete going to the states on a scholarship - is surely not a bad thing. Basically that is the thread of this post.
I often get asked questions from jumpers from around the world. Many come from the States and they'll be an array of questions on all things long jump - technique and conditioning-wise. However, every now and again I get a question on how long jump, for example, is coached in the States. Often, although not exclusively, these questions come from Europeans who have gone to study and train in the US.
Often there's going to be a sea-change in the type of training done Stateside compared to that done back at home ... this is to be expected, the new coach will want to utilise his experience and his philosophy. However, what does concern me is the reticence to utilise the experiences of the 'home' coach when an athlete travels across the pond. I'd not, for example, mind answering a few questions to set the scene about an athlete for their new US coach. However, with the five athletes I have had go the States, only on one occasion (and it was somewhat forced) has their been dialogue with me re the athlete.
It is odd that five plus years of specific history on the part of a home coach is ignored by the US coaches.
Inspiration for this blog post
This blog post was inspired in part by an athlete who contacted me re his US experiences and the differences in European US coaching philosophy.
He indicated that he did very little plyo training and he was beginning to feel heavy and less light and springy. This is from a European athlete who has jumped over the 7.70m. The jumper has had to do his own plyos. I do find it hard to see how you can coach long jump without including plyometrics in the programme.
Here's part of my response to the jumper - who is now back in Europe and hoping to get selection for the Doha World Champs in the two or so months he has available.
Okay, there are some possible answers here (and I''m going on experience as without obviously seeing you in action it's all I can go on!)... the lack of plyos could be having an effect. If you are used to this type of training then your muscles will respond to it and "need it".
What I have found happens in that the "old" way of training tends to stay with an athlete for a year or so, despite the intro of a new type of regime (in your case more weights based by the sounds of it). After that period you will start to adapt to the new way (which is good if it suits you, not if it doesn't). Jumping 7.90m (which is good!) off a shorter approach may be an indication that the new system is kicking in as it may reflect a shift toward strength rather than power (although the two are related and cross-over). It could be that by adding in some more systematic plyos with the increased strength base that you have, that this could push you on. However, I get the feeling that you require more of a plyo/eccentric base (and to be honest I can't see how you/anyone can be a long jumper without doing plyo's - as I mentioned before), so it's going to be necessary to keep doing them (in your own time in the States by the sounds of it).
If you have a couple more years to go in the US then you'll need to carefully see how you adapt to the regime, as as I say you may or may not benefit from the "US approach" - well, the one you are being subject too.
Feeling heavy could be because you are i.e have put on weight (have you?) but is probably reflexive of a change in muscle fibre type in regard to the weights where type 2x fibres (fastest) may have been dulled a bit and have lost some of their high power contractile abilities). As I say - and without trying to alarm you - it may be after a year when you adapt positively or negatively to the "new" regime. Your saving grace may well be that you are doing your own plyos - without which you may have some of your innate qualities trained away.
Of course a heavy training load and training when "loaded" can lead to that heavy leg feeling. Does your coach use a traditional linear periodisation approach (big base - then more specific in blocks)? Or an undulating method where the emphasis is on speed and power all the time and training elements are wave loaded? I favour the latter as you never lose sight of speed and add more speed on speed, power on power etc. The integration leads to more seamless progression.
Many US track coaches and especially S&C coaches are weight room based and come from a US football background. Hence it's easy to see how with limited specific long jump experience more generic training can take place. The US system also seems to favour a more is better approach, rather than a less is more one. "Go big or go home" - is the mentality. High volume is unlikely to do a long jumper any favours when you truly understand the needs of the event ... 4 seconds of high power alactic aerobic energy, huge eccentric loading on take-off and the need to run over 10.5m/s for a male for 2m-5m to hit a 20cm wide take-off board and take-off optimally. 10x200m, yes, that a great session for a long jumper. Yes, I'm being sarcastic but that's what one of the jumpers in my group was set to do regularly ... you can get specifically fit and do volume - but that's anther post.
So, if you are heading out to the States be aware that your training may be different. I'd advise finding a coach who is adaptable and used to training athletes specific to their needs and who does not use a cookie-cutter approach. Also, don't be afraid to challenge your coach and make suggestions - if they are a good coach they will at least listen and give you an informed response as to why they will or won't adapt their training.
Please note there are of course many great US coaches and success stories with European jumpers, these are my opinions based on actual first hand experience. Also the question that forms the meat of this post is from an actual European based out in the States.