Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
You'll have heard me talk about about eccentric training on this blog or on my YouTube Channel. This is the type of specific work which will improve your reactivity, your sprint speed and your jump power.
Think of an eccentric muscular action as like stretching out a spring - if you did this the spring would store a huge amount of energy. Energy which will be released when the spring is let go and it recoils at super-fast speed.
In our events the stretch of the spring as noted reflects the eccentric muscular lengthening action and the release the muscular shortening concentric muscular action one.
There's much research that indicates that improving eccentric capacity will improve concentric capacity - hence it's crucial to train this muscular action.
There are lots of ways to this, for example, you can do specific drills, some being more jump orientated and some more sprint orientated.
You can also train eccentrically with weights. If you did this the focus would be on the lowering phase of the movement. For example, when performing a squat you could slowly lower for a 4-5sec count before (or not and leaving the bar in the racks and having helpers lift the bar back to the starting position) extending the thighs to return the weight.
It's actually possible to handle more weight eccentrically then concentrically - up to 25% plus more in fact.
We regularly include eccentric training in our workouts - you'll see two members of the u20 squad doing what I call "Jump forward, block and jump" jumps in the image.
The athlete performs a medium length low height forward jump and then explodes vertically upward. The girl is performing the first part and the boy the second part in the image.
Checkout the latest video on my YouTube channel to find out more and to see this drill and more - all designed to improve eccentric capacity.
And if you needed a reason to eccentrically train: when triple jumping out of the hop the hop leg has to withstand and return up to 20 times body weight in milliseconds. Eccentric capacity is therefore vital.
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At Coach-Athlete level there are 10 videos on various subjects that will be particularly useful to coaches.
There are videos on Training Planning, Training Transfer, Speed Phase Development, Overcoming Common Coaching issues with young sprinters and jumpers ....
It's taken a while but I finally pulled together the third issue of The Jumper. It's packed full of articles that should appeal to jumpers coaches and fans of these events alike. We've articles from top coaches such as Nick Newman, who's based in the US at USC as jumps and coach - Nick talks about his approach to jumps coaching. You can get his book from Amazon.
Then we have an article from Nelio Moura who has coached two Olympic long jump champions ... yes two. Nelio shares with us his tips on how to coach the long jump take-off. Top sprint coach Jonas Dodoo shares with us his tactics and technical tips for developing speed. Speed is something that all long jumpers and triple jumpers crave so this is a must read. Jonas's' article is part of a larger speed special, where we delve into numerous aspects of speed development, such as acceleration.
The issue includes it's usual mix and there's our social media watch, where we single out great pages and channels and podcasts for you to scroll to.
This issue was supported by Neuff - athletic equipment suppliers, so do check them out. There are some great offers from them (and other brands in the magazine). From Neuff you can get a Power Pack which includes sled, stretch bands and med balls and was part selected by your truly. It's a great combination of items that are actually really useful and applicable to sprinters and jumpers.
To get hold of the issue for FREE, all you need to do is click on the image. It will download from the web and from there - should you want - you can download it as a PDF. Links to the various media will work in both formats
I regularly get questions posted on aspects of jumping, sprinting and conditioning on my various social media and in particular my YouTube channel., so I thought I would share a couple with you with my answers.
QUESTION 1 TRANSFERENCE OF TRAINING
I have been saying the same thing for years be it with runners or swimmers. It is all about thinking about transference and keeping the exercises as close to the chosen sport or activity as possible. I believe in working on challenging stability and making exercises as proprioceptively rich as possible so that the athlete figures out how to create a feeling of 'stiffness' and control is really important. So using plyometric exercises combined with landing and taking off from a slightly unstable surface or Bosu Ball can work OR stepping up onto a Bosu Ball with a weight or sandbag on the shoulders might be more rewarding. Wonder what you think?
I agree that working on unstable surfaces can be great for proprioception and injury avoidance and learning that "control" needed. One of the best ways, I believe of challenging the long jump take-off, for example, is by using a low mat for the penultimate step (as you may have seen in a video or two of mine). This should only be a couple of cms high and it overloads the take-off improves force absorption and return. We use a 6-10 step approach as it is very demanding. So this drill is very close to the requirements of the long jump take-off and has that direct transference as you indicate. I'm not one for heavy weights and Olympic Lifts in their own right, although we do do these (with the mature jumpers) following more triphasic methods. For young athletes there are far better and much more specific ways to get stronger, for jumping and sprinting from my point of view. With older athletes it's then a case of working out what they need more specifically - which could include a greater emphasis on weights and a specific muscular action.
QUESTION 2 SPRINT TECHNIQUE
My right thigh gets higher than Asafa Polwell’s one. Maybe it’s just about increasing frequency?
Your knees need to do forward and up and not just up (as may be the case by the sound of it). Think about moving your hips to generate speed and lifting the heel from the back of the body to the front and across the knee to achieve this also. If you improve your hip speed then your stride length and frequency will improve as well as your technique.
There are plenty of videos on the channel which will help you with this.
Check out this one. https://youtu.be/2hlZnNWf_wg
QUESTION TRIPLE JUMP
Double arms or single arm action which is the best,what is difference between this two types.
Double arm is probably the best throughout all the phases from a balance and power transference perspective. A single or quarter on the take-off can allow for more speed .- but due to the way the arms can recover it can lead to imbalance in the hop going into the step. Computer models for what they are worth in the real world vindicate the use of a double arm action throughout the phases and also a hop dominant phase ratio.
Women tend to use a counter movement swing more for balance than propulsion. Hope this helps Here a useful video:
AND DON"T FORGET TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE JUMPER WHERE MANY MORE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED. ONE OF THE STAND OUT ONES BEING HOW TO RETURN FROM LOCK-DOWN BY ENGLAND ATHLETICS MEDICAL LEAD, PHYSIO Stuart Butler. Click on link to view to go and watch video for more content.
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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.
Long jump and triple jump requires reactivity i.e. the ability to transfer from a hop landing into the step as is the case for the triple jump. However, it’s more specific than that as on each contact, for example, when running there is a reaction in the muscles of the ankles legs and hips. You’ll probably know of this as the stretch-reflex which is the key driver of plyometric exercises, such as the drop jump. However, there’s a further aspect that needs to be considered and which is developed via plyometrics and weights for example and that’s leg stiffness.
Basically, the better able your legs are at being able to withstand and return force quickly the greater the leg stiffness. What’s important is that there are three sites at which this leg stiffness can be measured and developed in the legs and that at this limb’s three joints – the ankle, knee and hip.
So, I believe it’s important to develop improved stiffness and therefore reactivity at these joints. So, how do you do this? Well, you do different types of plyometric exercises, for example. You’ll see in the image one of the group members performing a drop jump from a very low height – about 6cm.
In order to get a quick reaction and gain height from the double foot contact they need to use their feet and specifically their ankles. I instruct them to “flick” their feet down on contact to create the extension needed to gain vertical velocity.
If the athlete anticipates the landing and bends their knees in an attempt to power up, the end result is visibly reduced speed and less leg stiffness. We will do 2-4 x6 reps in a session once or twice a week on average across the training year of this exercise.
So, what about stiffness at the hip? We will do straight leg hops and near straight leg bounds. With the former the objective is to propel yourself forward from basically a virtually straight leg. I’ll often say “Like a pogo stick” to the athletes – and then recall that most are too young to know what they are! It’s a case of letting the bounce “happen” on each contact rather than forcing it and using increased knee bend to produce the power.
For knee stiffness then the majority of standard bounds, hops and other plyos will be doing the job … I feel it’s the blend of plyos (and weights) and the emphasis of stiffness at all the joints which contributes to all-over leg stiffness and which will therefore bring about improvement in the jumps and sprints.
Nelio Moura from Brazil is one of the world's top jumps coaches. He coached Irving Saladino and Mauren Maggi to Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. Wow! That's an achievement. (Checkout his instagram page https://www.instagram.com/neliomoura....) Nelio has written a book about jumps conditioning called Pliometrica - Jumping Further with Plyometric TRAINING: A Practical Guide. The book is in mainly Portuguese (there are English paragraphs) so get out your google translate (unless of course you can speak Portuguese!). The book is available through Amazon Brazil. I have a copy ... I was really interested in his work with 'assisted plyometrics' as you will see in the video. Nelio told me that the he has been researching these types of jumps for many years as a way to improve take-off power. This was the main reason why I got the book myself. Now, Nelio explained, contrary to what you might think that the assistance did not actually increase the speed of ground contact, but it did develop greater power for vertical velocity. Nelio explained: "The good thing with the assisted plyos is that even with these high forces, contact times does not increase." Since making the video on Ivana Spanovic (https://youtu.be/9B4R0ceP3lk) I became more intrigued with the vertical component of the take-off - Ivana has a higher vertical velocity than most other female jumpers (so does Juan Miguel Ecchevarria - but he has a more unique take-off action). Everything being equal the athlete with the greatest vertical velocity at take-off will be the one who jumps the furthest and who has the greatest landing velocity. So, I'm thinking and working through idas on how to boost the vertical component of take-off... I have began to tweak some of our plyometric drills accordingly - this could be very interesting. I will be interviewing Nelio for the main magazine that I write for in the UK Athletics Weekly and no doubt some of what I find out will also appear on this channel. Go check Nelio out - you will also find interviews with him on the Simply Faster podcasts if I recall correctly.
,The sentiment however is what's compelling. It's about not wasting time doing the wrong exercises, or not loading the bar correctly, and in my most recent video thinking about doing eccentric and isometric weights room exercises. All thinking is geared toward what will make you run faster or jumper further.
If you've been a regular viewer of my videos you'll know that I have long used eccentric/isometric jump exercises, where we focus on blocking the landing and working on moving down into the jump, for example, when conditioning. An eccentric muscular action is a muscle lengthening one where muscles go on stretch to decelerate movement. This happens when the foot hits the take-off board in the long jump - the muscles (ligaments and tendons) around the ankle, knee and hip will stretch to stop the jumper collapsing through their take-off leg. They then recoil very quickly (creating muscle shortening actions) to propel the jumper from the board. Sandwiched between this eccentric and concentric action is an isometric one. There will be, in the case of the long jump take-off, a minute moment when there will be no movement, when the eccentric action, stops, and then transfers direction concentrically.
It therefore makes sense to train your muscles eccentrically, isometrically and concentrically (concentrically being the most common form of muscular action - as is the case with squats and bench presses, for example). On my channel I was made aware of Triphasic Training by Cal Dietz, an S&C expert at the University of Minnesota. I got a hold of his book which is all about conditioning via blocks of eccentric, isometric and concentric emphasis weights exercises in order to find out more and better inform my training programme construction. The book has proved very useful in this respect - look out for a full review in future.
So, in pulling together my training programme for this 2018/2019 season I have really thought long and hard about the role of isometric and eccentric weights room exercises and have created a specific training programme for them that fits around the other key drivers of my training plans - plyometric, technique work, acceleration and top end speed. All hung around a block periodisation undulating periodisation methodology.
The video embeded within the post will further explain my current thoughts and I hope to expand upon these in the light of practical experience in future ones.
PS: I'm even doing some of the exercises myself and can feel - even at my old age - the transference.
I’ve recently started to think about planning for the next training year. What do I keep the same? What do I change and what do I get rid of? These and other questions and potential answers are milling around in my head at present.
As, regular readers of this blog will know I’m very much a “less is more” type of coach when it comes to training planning (periodisation). I use a version of what’s known as “block” periodisation or undulating periodisation. This system never loses sight of speed, for example, and ensures that all the key qualities required for long and triple jump are not put on the shelf.
Classical models of periodisation, which use a pyramidal approach, with a wide general prep base, that move through cycles, to more specific and more specific training units, are now increasingly falling out of favour with coaches (particularly at the elite level). This is because, and keep that shelf comment in mind, if you put the key aspects of long and triple jump (speed, technique etc) onto that shelf at the beginning of the training year, they’ll gather metaphorical dust. A couple of months later you take them off that shelf and what do you find? They’re (metaphorically again) dusty. The result: the athlete struggles to run fast, take-off, coordinate technical movements quickly and efficiently and so on. So, you’re back behind the specific training continuum and needing to er, dust off technique and speed. The athlete then spends the next, and crucial part of the training year, attempting to get the speed and technical efficiency back, and probably to the level that they had at the end of the summer season when they started back training in the first place.
Oh, and did I mention tissue resilience – or cutting through the jargon - injury risk to muscles, ligaments and tendons? More specific to event training (and a pre-training programme), will significantly reduce the potential for injury – another benefit of block periodisation methods.
Oh, but they’ll be stronger and fitter some will shout who advocate macrocycles of general prep… stronger and fitter for what? (Stronger and fitter at being stronger and fitter probably). The jumper will not be specifically more powerful, quicker and crucially reactive enough to be able to lift out of greater speed and therefore jump further.
Now, if that same jumper trained for speed all year round, they’d get quicker and quicker - theoretically at least - there is a little bit more to it than, for example, sprinting everyday.
Many jumps coaches who follow the block periodisation method/methods will start the training year with acceleration work. It’s speed work, develops power and is more concentric in nature. The belief is that the greater starting power generated the greater the potential top-end speed – everything else being equal. This is an approach that I favour too. However, I think that I didn’t quite get the top end speed development right. There are so many factors to consider here – one being the need for a specific type of speed on the run-up. Running 40m-odd to hit a 20cm board is not the same as running 40m flat out. What’s key is the acceleration and optimum speed into and off of the board.
This year I hope to up my coaching game with a shiny bit of kit, probably a freelap timing system. This extremely portable bit of kit should enable me to measure the run-up speed parameters I want and this will inform me objectively, if I am getting my training planning right (or as “right” as it can be… better may be the way to put it).
Another aspect of training that I want to develop more for my jumpers will be a slightly different approach to muscular action training – I’m avoiding saying weight training and even strength and conditioning, as I don’t want people to think exclusively of weight room activities. I’m looking at getting more eccentric and even isometric training into our workouts this training year and I’ll say more about that in another post.
So, when it comes to training planning for long and triple jump I advocate that you think and act specifically. Speed on the run-up and at take-off/take-offs and the technical ability and power needed are the keys to jumping far. The training mix needs to reflect this and you need to be able to, as objectively as possible, be able to measure these qualities.
Look out for progress updates as this training season progresses. And good luck with your training and competition.
PS: Latest video is now up on the YT channel and this deals with that muscular action training I mentioned above.
And thanks to all those who've passed by and had a watch... we've now reached 3k subs and close to half a million views!