Today was all about plyometrics and the long jump takeoff. The athletes started their day with our dynamic warm up which was followed by planned sprint workout. The day's focus for sprinters was explosiveness and conditioning. They performed a 20+ minute routine that was heavy in plyometrics and left them gasping for air. It was great!
After that, I took them directly to the field house to work on the long jump takeoff. Many might think that going from plyometrics to takeoffs might be too hard on athletes, but it was done on purpose. This time of year is all about general strength and conditioning to best prepare them for the competition season; and there is no better way to help their legs acclimate to what they'll experience than going from something as tiring as plyos straight to long jump takeoffs!
The workout focused on a drill called "flat, flat". The words "flat, flat" describe what the athletes feet should do in the last two steps of the approach to ensure they maximize their vertical potential. When sprinting, we sprint on the balls of our feet (front of foot); but when jumping you want to avoid this part of your foot due to the small amount of explosiveness one can create from their toes.
Jumping also needs the presence of lowered hips to increase the vertical push. Think about jumping up for a rebound, or to spike a volleyball. In each of those examples you need to lower your body to maximize your jumping height, and thus is crucial to getting as high up as possible.
When an athlete uses the proper "flat, flat" contacts in their last two steps they slightly lower their body mass to perform a proper takeoff. There's much more to it (arms, knee drive, etc.) but today all we worked on was the proper takeoff using the flat footed contacts.
I set up a long foam runway, a high jump pit in the middle of it, and a 6" wooden plyometric box on either side of the pit (see picture above). I then had my athletes split up into two groups to maximize the number of athletes going at one time. I instructed them to take one flat step before the box (with their non jump foot) and then another flat step on the box (with their jump foot). These steps were lastly followed by a takeoff into the high jump pit.
As they got more comfortable I had them add speed, but watched closely to make sure the flat, flat contacts were still happening on the floor and wooden box properly. After a large number of takeoffs I had them move away from the foam runway and work on a drill called "run, run, jump". This drill is basically an extension of the work they did into the high jump pit but it has them doing multiple takeoffs in a small amount of time with a little more speed than they were using in the previous drill. Again, I watched closely at their foot contacts (only) as that was today's focus.
Plyometrics in the pool. A great way to push them even harder but minimize the contacts (pounding) they experience!