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 recently asked by Athletics Weekly to write an overview article on what makes for a good training regime. As the article is not out for a few weeks I can't say too much, however, I thought I would whet your appetite as to what's included with these two points.
A training regime is not just about the 'physical content' i.e. the sessions and the workout content, it's much more holistic and includes diet and nutrition, for example, as well.
Don't chop and change your regime
You need a training regime plan that’s suited to your age, level of ability and training maturity, for example. This may take some time to get right and this is where your experience, reflection and feedback and that of your coach comes into play. Once this programme is established and it’s getting results then unless there is very good reason (such as injury, change in the amount of time you have to train), then your training plan is best only tweaked, rather than revised wholescale.
Now, this does not mean that your training plan should not cycle through various phases (micro, meso and macro phases as they are called), your training has to evolve, and change to create long lasting adaptation. But that’s just it, if you are a ‘training programme butterfly’ then you’ll not derive the adaptation that adhering to a systematic, but cyclical regime will achieve.
Do plan your competitions and know your peaks
Competitions are what you train for, all those miles will be a bit of a waste, for example, if you don’t line up against your peers to test your mettle. However, competitions are stressful – they drain you not only physically but mentally. Do too many and you run the risk of burning yourself out. Conversely do too few and you may never reach peak and PB busting levels. So, plan the main competitions you will be focussing on for the winter (indoors, cross-country, for example) and then for the summer (road, track for example). It’s best to work back from the main comp and ‘fit’ your training plan into this, so that it leads and guides you to your goals. Having that focus back in January will enable you to motivate yourself to push toward that August target/target. And it will also make that target meaningful – so that when the days of the important competitions, you will be fired up and ready to put all that training into practice.
Training Group Update
It's coming into the competition period for the older athletes in my training group. Three-four at least will be aiming for good performances in the British trials which take place early Feb. There may be an outside chance of some making the team for the European Champs which are in Glasgow this year in March, So, do look out for updates on this blog and the youtube channel.
As we actually nearly enter December it's time to change the blocks of training that we are doing.
With the undulating periodisation model that I'm using the emphases change slightly rather than wholesale. Unlike when I was an athlete the transition is not abrupt and we suddenly don't go straight from running 200's and 300's to sprinting and jumping - rather it's been a gradual progression of layering. Layering more speed work on speed work, more technical take-off work on more technical take-off work (so that we can transition to the pit and start jumping properly and with out cognitive confusion) ...
The triphasic training that I've been following in and out of the weights room seems to be going well with the group, it is a bit of an experiment this year. We've been following some of the protocols outlined by Cal Dietz in his book Triphasic Training. Individuals will respond differently to different training stimuli, so this has to be taken into account when new training methods are implemented. It's also not a wholesale change as I'd been incorporating elements into the group's training previously - isometric squats and presses and eccentric/isometric landing jumps.
I'll be able to comment more on this training-response outcome as the weeks pass and we do more speed testing and also more pit work. Incidentally, we did our first pit jump session recently and there did seem to be a good "jump response" - but this of course could be down to a number of other factors - for example, the general progression of training toward this and subsequent jump sessions i.e. that the jumpers were well-prepared to jump and confident physically and mentally (a response to the block periodisation approach most likely).
One last point which is slightly divergent from the above (but related) is the need to look at and try to train the feet and ankle flexors and extensors so that this crucial link in the kinetic chain applies force optimally and technically proficiently and with less injury risk up (and down) the body. Some of the group have flat feet and you can see how their feet roll in on foot contact whilst sprinting. Their feet don't return energy as quickly nor as sharply as other group members with higher arches and a more neutral foot plant. It stands to reason that if this can be corrected then greater contact response will result and therefore greater speed. To this end we have been doing some barefoot drills, and runs (over short distances) and other "foot work".
I'll be making a video on this subject and perhaps pulling together an article for Athletics Weekly on this in future. The feet are crucial for athletic performance but are often neglected from a training and conditioning point of view.
Latest Video (below)
The latest video I've uploaded contains answers to questions that I have been sent through the YT channel. These include:
How to establish a basic run-up length
How to beat a long jump distance plateau and what could be be the causal factors
And, how to pull together training session using a unit approach
YouTube Community Addition
My channel now has the community section added - where creators can be more in-touch with their followers ... it enables posts and "exclusive content" to be seen by subscribers. I can also post more specific comment and perhaps even article or at least snippets of where I want to expand on themes that I can't cover so easily in the videos, so do check that out.
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The new season for preparation comes around all too quickly. Coaches need to have a rest as do athletes, but this year I don't seem to have had much of one!
This year I've introduced some new weight training ideas into our workouts as has been indicated in recent posts and on my associated Youtube channel There's been quite a lot of discussion on 'Triphasic training" - which involves specific eccentric, isometric and concentric weights workouts. It's something that in many ways I'd been using without having specifically programmed to do so, However, reading Cal Dietz's book Triphasic Training, contextualised and added more to what I'd planned.
In the video below you'll see what we've been up to in our first week or so of training. It sets the scene for what's to follow. I always try to pare down what we need to do to the key elements - speed, power, technique. Yes, some metabolic conditioning is required, but even with young athletes the former qualities trump these. A jumper needs to be able to run near to 40m flat out and be powerful enough and coordinated enough to take-off and execute a mid-air action. They don't need to be fit enough to run 6 200's in 23-sec.
,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.
Just a short post on end of season and planning for the new prep phase.
I have had a chat with a couple of the athletes in my group about their training for this autumn and beyond. The main cause for debate seems to be strength and conditioning and in particular weights. I'll be honest, I've not been as "hot" on weights as other coaches and athletes. I feel that there are far better S&C options - especially for non full-time athletes who have limited training time. To me plyos, speed work, technique and other jump type work (e.g. loaded squat jumps) are more important and can be integrated into out training sessions.
As you may know I follow a block preiodisation/undulating periodisation model and my training sessions include - very often - all the elements required to develop long and triple jump. What do I mean? Well, we don't just jump or sprint... we will do various units in the training sessions that work on all the required components of long and triple jump. The content of these units varies across the training period - agility, sprint technique (of which I have numerous exercises), acceleration, top-end speed, take-off work and so forth.
However, perhaps for the first time (should I say that?) I have decided to get more on top of the weight training that some of the group do. I have developed some ideas on eccentric training and through reading up and watching on youtube, for example, the work of Cal Dietz (of Tri-phasic training fame).
I recently posted some of these thoughts in one of youtube channel videos and you can hear and see more of what I intend in the video (the link to the video and a further post on the subject is here).
And here's a further video (on pre- and early season training) where some follow-up takes place on why general strength training can be a waste of time!
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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!
If you have been following my instagram or facebook pages you will know that I'm out in Portugal with some of my training group at the time of writing (early May 17). Over the course of the 8-9 days in Monte Gordo I've been pulling together a series of videos. These will include day by day accounts of all the sessions that we did. In these I provide some commentary and explanations as to what we did and also explain some of the technical areas that we are working on.
I also hope to expand some of these videos into more technical features on long and triple jump technique as they effect specific athletes in future. I'll also try to produce something on strength and conditioning at this time of the athletic training year.
Below you'll find the second video so far uploaded - this is a VLOG of day one and two's workouts. (The first video in the series, which you will find on my youtube channel, is an overview of the planned WWT period's training.)