Today the athletes started out with timed sprints and general sprint technique work. The sprint plans this year are more focused on timing sprints to watch for growth, and to run at higher percentages with lesser overall meters. So far, the kids are LOVING it! After they were done with sprints the jumpers transitioned either to me or the weight room.
During our time together at the jumps pits we reviewed and worked on the start again today. I had each athlete record his/her front foot, jump foot, and number of overall steps.
The front foot needs to be consistent or the overall number of steps in their approach will vary. Many athletes don't know this, and are generally not paying attention to this "small" detail. Recording it gives them something to refer to, and gives me a way to keep a closer eye on them to make sure they are being consistent. The foot they decide upon is their choice completely. I want their start to feel comfortable!
The jump foot is again determined by the athlete and his/her comfort. If an athlete doesn't know which foot they'd like to jump off of I use a simple test that can be found on the jump foot page. Due to it being so early in the season (and us not having the opportunity to do much actual jumping) I instruct athletes that it may change as the season progresses (but that is unlikely).
The number of total steps is determined by experiences, ability/inability to attain top speed quickly/slowly, etc. If athletes are new to jumping I ask that they don't do more than 12 total steps. If they are veterans, athletes get to choose their number, but cannot go beyond 16 unless given special permission. We generally will not go beyond 14 total steps because the longer an approach is, the more likely the athlete is to experience something negative and/or scratch. Shorter approaches need to be used more often!
To determine whether an approach should have an even or odd number of steps the athlete needs to take into account the front foot and the jump foot they've decided upon. If their front foot is the jump foot they will have an even number of total steps. If their jump foot is back in their start, they will have an odd number of starts.
When the athletes finished writing down the information discussed and practicing standing starts, I had the athletes simply practice more explosive starts to get used to the action of a "crouch start". Overall, the kids looked really good! Later this week, the athletes will transition to working solely on the first 5 steps as this is the most important part of the entire approach for consistency reasons (I'll explain more when that day comes).
Triple jump practice, flat, flat work (long jump) with jumping up to a soft plyo box, and bounding work.