It was absolutely wonderful to see my athletes again today! Spring break was well-deserved and extremely fun, but coaching is something I miss when I'm unable to do it. The team is an extension of my family (which I feel all coaches should convey to their athletes) and it was great to see them all again. This doesn't diminish the importance of my family (because family will ALWAYS be my #1 priority) but hopefully communicates to you how I believe you should connect to your team.
At the beginning of practice today I took my varsity triple jumpers down to the field house to work on proper landings during the phases of the jump. So far this season I've noticed that my athletes are not being active enough during their foot contacts throughout the entirety of the jump. Due to this inability, my athletes aren't keeping the proper speed during the jump and are losing a great deal of potential distance. Keeping speed = longer jumps in the triple jump! To help teach them the proper foot contacts I had them perform skipping for distance, skipping for height, and bounding (in that order for a reason). Skipping for distance helps athletes understand the first phase (the hop). Skipping for height helps them understand the 2nd and 3rd phases (the step and jump). Bounding helps them understand how to perform the "up and out" action I coach them to focus on during the 2nd and 3rd phases. These two phases need to be like a long jump - up and out. If they perform only one of those focuses their jumps will be much less than capable. Helping athletes understand how to perform the "up and out" movement of these two phases is paramount to their success!
During the other scheduled block for field event athletes we focused solely on approaches today. With three upcoming meets this week (1 dual meet that everyone can compete in, 1 JV meet involving all teams in our conference, and the "indoor state meet" at UW Whitewater - WTFA) my focus is to make sure ALL athletes are ready to "attack" the boards. If there is one early-season hindrance to jumpers it's their obsession with hitting the board during their approaches. Unfortunately though, this intense desire to mark leads to stuttering, slowing down, and improper preparation for flight.
Athletes need to understand that these early meets are not about marks, but are mostly about creating a routine of aggression in the lane. Too often athletes create poor habits in these early meets by putting too much emphasis in marking instead of speed. When athlete change their speed in the lane (by reaching, stuttering, attempting to perform a flat-flat motion when not ready, etc.) they are greatly decreasing our abilities as coaches to assist them in their next approach.
At meets, my athletes run (on average) 2-4 approaches prior to the meet to ensure they will hit the board during their actual jumps. If they are behind or over the board during these approaches I instruct them how to move their mark so that they will (hopefully) hit the board during competition. If these athletes change anything in their approaches during competition it will basically void any and all work completed during the pre-competition preparation.
I care little/none for proper takeoffs (flat-flat foot contacts), flight or landings in these early meets. I want my athletes to learn aggression first, and those other focuses can come later.
I wanted to work on chair landing work today with them, but with poor weather on it's way I chose to focus solely on approaches. The weather we had today at practice (in the 40's with moderate wind) is very much like the weather that athletes will experience at most of our outdoor meets moving forward, and learning how to stay warm/loose and how to be aggressive in the lane was much more important than landing work (which we can do indoors if it does snow this week like forecasted).
We have a meet scheduled but I feel it will be cancelled. If it is, athletes will be working on plyometric movements and landing work in an attempt to mimic the kinds of work they'd experience while competing.