Coaching, jumps, sprints & more
Everything about jumping and sprinting and how to improve your performance
We all wanted 2020 to end and for 2021 to be a truly "new" New Year. The global pandemic has been a disaster for us all and it has tested our sanity, perseverance, purpose and faith. Track is just a very small part of what goes on in the world and yet, for those of us who are coaches, athletes, fans, judges and so on it's a lot more. Not being able to coach and train properly has been a perpetual test since March of last year for me in the UK, and it's going to continue well into 2021.
We're back to lock-down as of yesterday like the one as we had in March and this means only localised exercise with no sports facilities open at all (except for those on elite programmes - more of which later).
This is a necessity for our health now as the spread of COVID is highly dangerous. however, It means that I, like many coaches, will have to dig deep and summon up the energy to try to motivate our athletes to keep in shape and to train as best as they can.
Last time around I posted and created lockdown workouts which can be done at home or in parks and on the roads (if it safe to do so). You can check these out on the channel at:
I may well create a couple more this time around again too.
I've been able to coach relatively normally since the autumn - albeit with some changes in venues and the need to train outdoors, but we were getting there. Now, for many of the group (like many others everywhere else) that end destination has been changed. Well it's actually no longer in existence - and it's unlikely that normal training will resume for months. Plus, the excitement and drive of competing indoors has vanished. You can always sense that it's in the air at the time of the year. It's going to be a tough time.
As I said last time around athletes have to try to enjoy what training they can do and to not think too much about competing ... it's a case of ticking over and training for health and mental well-being as well as performance.
I'll be trying to keep my guys on that path.
However, I do have three athletes who are deemed to be elite and they can still train if facilities are willing to remain open. So, I'll be coaching "normally" a couple of times a week. I'll also do some 121 sessions with them where allowed in outdoor spaces too. You'll see a pic of Jahisha below working out in a local park.
There's a lot you can still do and hopefully we will all do what we can within the realms of what our country's regulations are.
Perhaps now, instead of seeing training sessions as a means to a PB, see them now as part of your well-being, as a way to feel better about what's going on, as something that you have relative control over, and as something to do that will make you feel better after having trained.
Find that different motivation. And make sure to look out for your fellow athletes and coaches and all in the track family and beyond. Stay-safe everyone.
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
Weight training seems to be one of the most popular topics on the channel. Whenever I produce a video on the subject I get lots of comments. Most - which is good - agree more or less with what I'm saying. You'll see what I mean if you look at one of the latest weight training videos - The Pros and Cons of Weight Training and its associated comments - SEE VIDEO BELOW.
However, a different type of question on weight training was asked on another video's comments section:
Q: Can weight training stunt your growth?
It's an unusual question so I thought I would provide my answer here, so more may be able to see.
A: Well, not if you train appropriately and at a mature enough age. Research indicates that weight training does not slow growth ... we also need to consider that plyometrics, sprinting and jumping are more intense exercise forms of exercise (more so than weights in terms of overload on the body), so if a young athlete can sprint they will be able to handle weight training (obviously sensibly set). Any exercise at any age will also have a hormonal effect. This can be positive and actually stimulate growth (in muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones, for example).
I generally introduce light weights at around 14-15 years of age for a jumper. They would be used for developing injury prevention rather that directly enhancing performance. And as I say in my videos I would be making sure that speed, plyometric ability and technical ability were the prime areas of focus. Weights can specifically improve performance, however, it takes time and a specific type of weight training to achieve this. If you were to emphasise the wrong type of weight training at too early an age this could be detrimental to your jumping. There are far better ways to improve performance.
Adding a little more.
Having said that some athletes may need to develop their specific weights strength earlier than others. It will be up to the coach to identify what they think a particular athlete needs to do in order to improve their performance. I'll say more about this in a future video on the channel and will give some specific examples using some of my athletes.
For many of you in the world you are already in lock-down due to COVID. Fellow Europeans in Germany, France and Belgian for example are living under much more restricted conditions and now we in the UK are back on lockdown. As I'm a coach I'll focus on the impact this will have on me and the athletes I coach.
We will probably have nowhere to train from Thursday (when the lockdown starts) in terms of tracks and gyms (there maybe one track which we used in the summer that may be able to stay open as it has no indoor facilities attached to it ... fingers-crossed there). We can only go outside with one other who is not from our household, so I'm limited to coaching one athlete at a time whether at a track or in a park, for example (I have around 20 of various ages that I coach). Working (who have to go to work venues which is still allowed) and studying athletes (schools and universities remain open) will have problems training as now it's winter light conditions and dark at 4.30pm--5.00pm .
At least during the initial 2-3 month lock-down it was spring and summer and outside opps were better.
Turning a negative into a positive
Some of my athletes brought weights and other resistance equipment first lockdown around so they'll be able to use them which is great. They will also have got used to lock-down conditions ... however, it's doing it again that will take its toll (and being pessimistic, it would not surprise me if this lockdown is extended and/or there's another).
I'll have to go back to on-line lockdown workouts and will try to improvise so that the athletes do as best as is possible what they were going to do under non-lockdown conditions. I'll produce some more channel lock-down workouts for athletes to do in limited spaces, parks or on the street (where it is safe to do so). They were well appreciated last time, so thanks!
We made it through the last period and most of the group achieved PBs over the truncated late summer season ... so, this will hopefully act as their (and your) and my motivation to keep going.
An indoor season may only now be a slim chance but we will be much better geared up for outdoor meetings and how they should be run and made COVID secure, so that's a positive.
At times like this (and there are of course much bigger problems than jumping into sand) sport and exercise and its regime can add a purpose and direction to life. We need to keep each other motivated to train as best as is possible. However, we need to reduce the pressure and try to enjoy the fact that we can get out and workout, even in a 121 situation or as a 1 (coaches too need to workout). Something is better than nothing.
We need to motivate each other. And don't forget your coach "we" spend so much energy keeping others going, we need a bit of support and encouragement too! Stay-safe and let me know how you are doing. And please support the channel by considering becoming a member.
And do consider supporting my YouTube channel
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ALWAYS LEARNING European Horizontal Jumps and Sprints Symposium Karlstaad Sweden RELEVANT YOUTUBE PLAYLISTS BELOW:
It's important for all of us to continually learn and evaluate as coaches and athletes.
Last year I was very privileged to journey to Sweden for the bi-annual jumps and sprints get together organised by Swedish Athletics and European Athletics. In 2017 I'd also been to the event in Falun.
Although the majority of coaches were Scandinavian there were coaches from all over Europe – I met some from Portugal, France and The Netherlands. To say that the symposium was packed full of theory and practicals is a bit of an understatement, rather it would be truer to say that it was over-flowing with sessions. There was, for example, a practical on the Sunday morning before we left for home at midday which kicked off at 7.45am!
The team of speakers included, regular on the coaching lecture circuit, Dan Pfaff, Sweden's Yannick Tregaro (former coach to Christian Olsson and currently Tobias Montler) and Serbia's Goran Obradovic coach to Ivana Spanovic.
I always like practical sessions as you can really see what the coaches are trying to get across and how they coach an event - however, I will say that some of the theory lectures in Karlstaad were equally gripping. As a coach, it's important that you digest and think about what’s being said by the expert coaches and don't just follow exactly what they do - that's to say incorporate their ideas into your training without knowing why you should. It would be really easy to mimic certain drills, for example, or give Ivana Spanovic's weights programmes to your athletes (Obradovic was very open with what he shared). Obviously training programmes are designed for specific athletes and cater for what a particular athlete needs.
A session that I really appreciated was taken by Tregaro – he’s one of Sweden's most profile coaches in terms of turning out great athletes. A look at the PBs of the athletes he has coached tells you much (HJ 2.30m/2.08m, TJ 17.83m, LJ 8.22m/6.41m etc). The Swede's session was all about specific warm-ups and the take-off for the long jump. He showed some new to me drills and I was engrossed in thinking how I could apply these to those I coach back in the UK. I was particularly reflective on his thoughts on the arm action at take-off. He advocated a lifting of the shoulders and arms after the arms had passed into the more normal take-off position (with the front hand's arm roughly parallel to the eye and the rear upper arm around parallel to the ground). He showed via athlete demonstrators a number of drills where the arms continue to lift (to almost a shrug of the shoulders). Doing this is seen to create more vertical force and lift on take-off. This is something that I have seen numerous continental jumpers do and I could now see why it could work.
Some other unique to me drills pertained to the penultimate step set-up, where there was a very dynamic emphasis on the step placement before the transition into the jump. Look out for more on Pfaff and Obradvoic's presentations in another post and you can checkout some of the sessions from Karlstaad and Falun on the channel.
Check out the relevant playlists LINKS above. Below me in Falun with Sweden's all-time jumper Michel Torneus (8.44PB) sort of!
coaching I'm writing this about an hour before I go off to my first coaching session back this 'winter' with the 'senior' group. There will be a couple of new squad members and some of the younger ones have been graduated to this group. Look out for the new guys - they add an international flavour!
Of course the present COVID situation is taking its toll. It's become more difficult to use the local track what with complex booking systems and a very small limit on the numbers who cab train. Hopefully in the light of constructive comments from coaches and a response from the track management this will change. However. it's because of this that I have had to (and no doubt will have to) adapt my training. We start today with that first session with a hills and drills one and not our usually track one.
Friday's video (see below) addressed 'basic' drills and how they are far from basic in developing an athlete. I believe they can correct technical faults and make the athlete aware of what they need to work on and importantly how they can correct any issues. You'll see what I mean in the video with a bit of a focus on para-athlete Karim. And of course they serve a strengthening and pre-conditioning role too.
Look out for a further video on how to use drills for 'quality volume' at the start of the season. Better to me than endless tempo.
Join the jumps squad
Oh, and do consider becoming a channel member (see previous post and the other video below). I have had a few sign-ups already and have produced a video that delves into how I approach my training plan in overview. I hope to be able to create a community of coaches and athletes who can develop together and share their thoughts and ideas through this part of my YouTube channel.
I think that because I coach at all levels this perhaps gives me an advantage over coaches who work at the elite level only. After all the majority of us work with school and club athletes. I have had quite a bit of success developing this type of athlete and many have reached elite levels for their age group and beyond.
Right, I'd better get a move on as I've got a session to do ... and unfortunately I have to run to the hill with them. Look out for more on this session too.
Do you want to increase your coach educatIon?
Perhaps find the current set-up for educating coaches lacking?
Perhaps you think that coach education (and much produced by organisations around the world) is too elitist and produced for those who only coach top athletes???
Perhaps you find it more about health and safety (vital issues of course) and not about what you really signed up for i.e. coach.
Or maybe you've found that coach education actually doesn't prepare you to coach ... to answer such very "useful" questions as:
What technique can I teach a 13-year-old long jumper?
How can I plan my weekly training in a way that will produce better performances and not waste time???
WELL I MAY HAVE AN ANSWER!
Since setting up my YouTube channel I've tried to answer these questions and many more from coaches and athletes from all around the world. The channel is nearing 20k subs and ha had 2 million plus views with an average view time of 2.5min, with viewers watching on average 2.5 videos a time.
When I started making YT videos I didn't think that the momentum would build to such an extent ... so, perhaps there is the demand for answers to the questions I began with.
JOIN A LIKE-MINDED COMMUNITY OF COACHES
Recently I have had numerous requests from coaches in particular wanting more information, specific questions answered and longer format videos. This coincided with YT enabling memberships on my channel. So, I have taken the plunge and have set-up memberships (link to left) on the channel.
THERE ARE TWO LEVELS OF MEMBERSHIP
Channel Supporter: £1.99 (or dollar equivalent)
This level is really there should you care support the channel. However, from time to time I will release exclusive content which you won't get on the channel and occasionally I'll preview other content first with channel supporters.
Coach Member: £22.99 (or dollar equivalent)
This level will allow us to go into greater detail about the types of questions coaches clamour for answers to as posed at the beginning of this post i.e. how do I plan a typical week's training for a young jumper?
I will upload at least one exclusive video a month which addresses such a key subject. We can also more easily communicate via the Coach Members' comments section and community posts. In time I also hope to be able to offer live streams where we can really delve into the key coaching issues that you and I face.
So, if you are interested and want to find out more please take a look via this
LINK to MEMBERSHIPS
You can watch a clip from my first exclusive video below - please note I will still be posting free videos most Fridays too.
A while back I posted about the Nurokor MiTouch bioelectrical device. It uses three different electrical currents called apps on the device (to put it simply) to treat and train muscles. The phone-size device enables four pads to be connected to work various body parts. I've been using the device since around April.
Initially I spent time researching the performance benefits of EMS (the catch-all term) - there's actually quite a lot which indicates that strong, short circa 10-sec x 10 bursts of EMS using a very strong intensity can increase muscle power very rapidly on individually treated muscle groups. Famed or infamous coach, Charlie Francis used EMS back in the eighties with success and indeed his protocols are still advocated today. I discovered contemporary research that vindicates a similar application.
I really need to drill down on the performance use aspects of the Nurokor MiTouch and provide the older athletes who have the device with a real programme for them to follow this season.
Myself, I've been using the device regularly and have now reached a stage where I can more fully appreciate my own experiences especially for injury and aches and pain treatment.
In short the overall results are more than favourable. For example, where the MiTouch has really worked for me is in treating sore Achilles tendons. Hots sore spots and Achilles tendonosis (degradation of the tendon's tissue) are common in sprinters.
I've found that regular treatment with the MiTouch has alleviated the sore to the touch symptoms virtually immediately enabling me to carry on sprinting and running.
I'll use the Pain+ function (designed to reduce pain and kick-start cellular recovery processes) for 20min on the tendon (see pics) and will then switch to using the MCS (miscrocurrent app) for 30-40min. The former uses a specific pulse and waveform and therefore you feel the constant ebb and flow of the current working the area, with the MCS you don't feel it working although it is. Incidentally MCS has a long medical history of use for wound healing through specially designed bandages.
On a sore hip my pain has decreased using similar protocols to the Achilles whilst treating around the hip and the ITB. I've yet to work out the reasons for why this area became sore although, it erks me to to say this, it could be age (!) or a mattress needing replacing!
All in all I'd recommend the Nurokor MiTouch as a way to alleviate pain and to keep on moving freely.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE NUROKOR MITOUCH AND GET A 10% DISCOUNT CLICK HERE
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
What do I mean, well the lack of competitive opportunities for athletes, who have been trying to train as best as they can. This seemingly applies to athletes from all over the world at the moment and is affecting the various track & field events differently. Of course, I’m particularly concerned with the long and triple jumps being the events I coach.
Our UK’s English, Welsh and Scottish Champs have all been cancelled and we wait to see whether any higher-level comps (other that the British Champs scheduled for September) will actually happen. Elite athletes in the sprints jumps, hurdles and throws seem to be finding the odd comps abroad but here our lock-down restrictions have mitigated against limited scale meets being run for those of a lesser level and of course young athletes.
One of the main issues to limit UK comps has been that very few tracks were open … and it’s only now in late July that they are unlocking their gates and putting into practise COVID secure environments. For many tracks the locks are still in place for field events as well … my local track, for example, will open soon but the pits won’t – yet, the alternative one I’m currently using does allow pit usage and has done for numerous weeks. There are anomalies and a major one is between sports where football can be played competitively …
Last night I watched a specially staged long jump meeting from Sweden featuring many of the country’s top jumpers and it was supported by the Swedish Federation. The broadcast quality was top-notch. Tobias Montler and Khaddi Sagnia both competed in Gothenberg. It seems that there will be a series of these meetings. I believe the driving force behind them is top Swedish Coach – Yannick Tregaro (who presented at the European Jumps and Sprints Symposium which was held last Dec in Karlstad, Sweden and which I attended).
So, it seems that I and fellow coaches will have to follow Yannick’s lead if we want to have any regular jumps comps in the UK this year, but having looked at the documentation produced to run one it’s going to take some organising and a stumbling block may well be finding a track willing to cooperate. So, watch this space for if and when we put on any jumps meets. I certainly want to make it happen.
Click on the banner below to watch the meeting from Sweden.