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 must be somehow getting better at making videos as I was asked by leading athletic equipment supplier NEUFF to produce a video on acceleration for them. In it I talk about the value of developing acceleration for all athletic events and I also take a look at some of the means used to develop it - such as hill running, harnesses and sleds.
Technique is also considered - such as body angles and heel recovery. I also consider the land, for example, which should be placed on a sled and how too great a resistance can negatively affect sprinting biomechanics.
To hopefully provide some clarity I also explain why adding a heavy weight to a sled can also act as a conditioning means for the more senior (training mature) athlete,
Let me know what you think of the video.
And if you're looking for sleds, harnesses and other items of athletic kit for all events do head over to NEUFF.
FOR ALL ATHLETIC EQUIPMENT: PLYO BOXES, MED BALLS, THROWING IMPLEMENTS, SLEDS AND STARTING BLOCKS GO TO NEUFF ATHLETIC
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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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
M45 British Record holder Jason Carty (11.01sec) sled pulling
Weighted sleds and acceleration
As with the theme of posts recently I'm looking at adding some different aspects to my coaching sessions this winter... evolution rather than revolution and resisted sled pulls/pushes is something that I'm keen on. I dug out some old articles I'd written and this snippet seems to have some relevance to directing my thoughts.
Athletes from numerous sports tow weighted sleds (or car tyres) loaded with weights over distances – usually 5m-40m - to improve their acceleration. Variations in standing start are used, for example, three point, standing and sprint starts. It's also possible to push using devices such as prowlers.
Achieving a low driving position is particularly important if the athlete is to get in the best position to overcome inertia. The added load will force the athlete to drive hard through their legs and pump vigorously with their arms.
A team of Greek researchers looked specifically at the validity of towing methods as a way of improving both acceleration and sprint speed *. Eleven students trained using 5kg weighted sleds (the RS group) and eleven without (the US group). Both followed sprint-training programmes, which consisted of 4x20m and 4x50m maximal effort runs. These were performed three times a week for 8 weeks. Before and after the training programs the subjects performed a 50-metre sprint test. The students’ running velocity was measured over 0-20m, 20-40m, 20-50m and 40-50m. In addition stride length and stride frequency were evaluated at the third stride in acceleration and between 42-47m during the maximum speed phase.
The researchers discovered that the RS group improved their running velocity over the 0m– 20m phase ie their acceleration improved. However, this acceleration improvement had no effect on their flat out speed. This contrasted with the US group who improved their running velocity over the 20-40 m, 40-50m, and 20-50 m run sections. This led the researchers to draw the obvious conclusions that, “Sprint training with a 5kg sled for eight weeks improved acceleration, but un-resisted sprint training improved performance in the maximum speed phase of non-elite athletes. It appears that each phase of sprint run demands a specific training approach.”
* J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2005 Sep;45(3):284-90.
However, if sleds are used as a means of improving acceleration, what is the optimum load to tow for maximum training adaptation? Australian researchers from Sydney considered just this *. Twenty male field sports players completed a series of sprints without resistance and with loads equating to 12.6 and 32.2% of body mass. The team discovered that stride length was significantly reduced by approximately 10% and 24% for each load respectively. Stride frequency also decreased, but not to the same extent as stride length. In addition sled towing increased ground contact time, trunk lean, and hip flexion. Upper body results showed an increase in shoulder range of motion with added resistance. Crucially it was discovered that the heavier load generally resulted in a greater disruption to normal sprinting technique compared with the lighter load. In short towing heavier weight sleds in unlikely to specifically benefit acceleration.
I'll add a little to this... the base level of power of the sprinter will have an effect... more powerful athletes will be able to generate greater force and this should also be factored into consideration when loading sleds. Many coaches time the acceleration too, and this will provide an objective measurement as to whether the land is too much or too little. Note: I believe that too much will be much more disruptive than too little... we are after speed, frequency, stride-length and optimum technique - factors which are less likely to be disrupted by "lighter" loads.
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!