We had our last morning practice today and the kids and I got a lot done! We started with my jump warm up (which you can find on the site). Afterwards we worked on a drill that I've mentioned before called the "walking long jump takeoff". I've discussed this drill in other posts before, but this morning was the first time I recorded it to share on YouTube. The drill is basically used to teach the athletes the proper takeoff and flight techniques. From there, we did the chair landing drill to connect everything from takeoff to landing. The kids did REALLY well with this! After spending roughly 30 minutes on those two drills, and becoming fairly precise, we moved onto approaches to see if the kids were consistent. What's great is they were INCREDIBLY consistent and it's only week 3!
Our morning practices are optional, and the kids that have been coming (and dedicating themselves to the jumps) are light years ahead of their peers in the approach consistency and I am extremely proud of them!
In addition, the drill shown above can be used on days where athletes are in pain, and can lead to some more accomplished takeoffs - I highly recommend it! Always gauge how your athletes are feeling so that drills like this can be utilized at the right time.
Now to the afternoon practice. When I arrived, I took the triple jumpers to the pits (for the first time) and had them complete a medium-number of triple jumps with 3-4 step approaches in the lanes. I didn't instruct them to land like they would in competition, the focus was simply to perform some triple jumps outside with the last phase finishing in the sand. This was a big step for the new jumpers because they finally got to perform an actual triple jump for the first time. A lot of times it simply takes kids like that performing it to prove to themselves that it's nothing to fear and is easily accomplished. They are really well prepared, they just need to be shown that.
After triple jump I worked on takeoffs and approaches with the long jumpers. The takeoffs were done at low-to-medium speed and focused on the flat, flat foot contacts I've discussed before. I instructed them to be very precise about their last two steps because if they can't figure it out at low speeds they'll never be able to perform it properly during a meet. They performed very well on this! Afterwards, the kids headed over to some tape measures and checked approaches for consistency. To my delight, they were pretty good tonight with overall consistency and seem to be ready for their fist meet!
My message to them is the same at the start of the year - find an approach number, be as consistent as possible, don't worry about the flat-flat until you are ready, attack the lane at 100% and don't slow down. It is more important to keep speed all the way through the board than to slow down and attempt a flat-flat if you aren't ready. This is something I feel all coaches need to vocalize to their athletes. A lot of the time they'll simply expect to pull off that flat footed contact in the last two steps, but it's a great deal harder when done at high speeds and they freak out or stutter step and lose speed. Make these initial meets no-pressure and all about simply getting them experience/comfort!