Today was an extremely busy day. Not only did we have our normal after school practice, but also had an optional morning practice that went from 6-7 a.m. We went over a great deal of focuses today and the kids did great!
The morning practice was mostly focused on the start and approach. We started with a quick review of the start and how to properly perform it. After that, I worked with each athlete to figure out his/her total steps and set up three different tape measures to help check for consistency in their approaches. This early in the season I don't expect consistency, and was not surprised to see that nearly all athletes were incapable in hitting consistent approach measurements. The chance to simply give them some exposure was today's real focus.
Once they realized how inconsistent they were, I took them over to some banana hurdles and had them practice the "drive phase" (the start). By having banana hurdles set up, it forces the athletes to use "big knees" and "big arms" to properly gain speed and momentum. Once they went through the banana hurdles a number of times I had them return to the tape measures, and low-and-behold they were more consistent in the second "round" of approach work!
As mentioned in other blogs (and on the start page) a proper drive phase is what makes a jumper consistent in hitting the board. The start is much more important than most people realize, and watching my athletes show growth/understand of what a proper start means, and then show SOME consistency in their approaches was great!
After school, we started with triple jump work. The new triple jumpers learned how to transition from the hop phase to the step phase, and learned about the proper mechanics needed to accomplish the step phase. The veterans added a third banana hurdle and worked on completing the entire triple jump by doing the hop phase, the step phase, and another step phase (which replicated the jump phase).
The new jumpers worked on the hop and step phases the entire time. After the veterans showed the comfort with the "hop-step-step" drill I had them set up two banana hurdles away from the foam runway and practice only the first two phases. The focus for them was to continue jumping the first two phases (from a 3 step approach) and moving the hurdles until they felt they could not pull off the phases properly (mechanics and posture). Once they felt as though they'd gotten the banana hurdles to a good point they recorded the distance in a binder I carry around for data collection purposes. The hope is that we will eventually see that they can move those hurdles even further apart and begin jumping distances that aren't currently in their comfort zones.
Some coaches have emailed me about these "foam runways" so I wanted to add a photo for reference.
After triple jump was done, I helped the sprint coaches with their plans.
Once the sprint "block" was completed it was time for the field event blocks. I took my athletes into the pool and pushed them extremely hard (in the shallow end) in a plyometric workout I created a few years back. You can find the pool routines I use under the resources page (indoor practice ideas).
The pool is such an amazing resource and I feel extremely fortunate to work for a district that has one that we get to utilize with our athletes. The water gives a natural resistance that helps our athletes to become better conditioned. As well, this natural resistance helps to bring the athletes down smoother/softer when landing so that each foot contact is much less damaging. If you're looking to blast your athletes legs and condition them at the same time (without hurting them) the pool is your place to go!
After the plyos I wanted to reward each athlete with some fun. We went to the deep end, and another coach and I introduced them to some fun jumps training. Using pool noodles one station was focused on having athletes jump in an upward motion (off the swimming blocks) to attempt to touch the tip of the noodle. The other station was focused on jumping over noodles that are held by a coach at (roughly) waist height. The kids LOVE these drills and are always upset when the pool time is up - even when I worked them to the point of exhaustion
earlier when working on plyometrics.
More work on the long jump takeoff and skipping for height to help with the proper knee and arm drives in the takeoff.