Today's practice was all about the landing. It has become quite obvious to me over the course of our last two meets that my jumpers need a great deal of landing work to get the rhythm and timing down. Many of my jumpers are "butt flopping" in the sand. This can be dangerous due to the possibility of injury to the tailbone. With meets being cancelled due to poor weather earlier this month the jumpers have less experience when compared to other years and are struggling with the landing timing, mechanics, and overall experience needed to pull of a proper landing.
All we did today was focus on getting comfortable in the air. The video above is from earlier this season, but is the drill I use to help my athletes simply get their timing/comfort down. Too often athletes don't know how to properly "hang" in the air, and want to rotate to the ground quickly due to their body's desire to feel safe. By having my athletes do this drill a large number of times my hope is to simply help their instinctual behaviors to be more comfortable in the air - it takes time!
The drill isn't about landing properly, but is all about being comfortable and helping athletes to best understand what to do with their posture, arms, and legs. The chair drill is also great at helping with this, but doesn't do a good job at helping them understand the feeling of being in their air.
Tomorrow, we will continue to work on landings, but will transition to work in the actual sandpit. The work will revolve around a progression that I use. The first step is to do a standing long jump with a "gymnast landing" (athletes need to stick the landing with slightly bent knees - the "sticking" of the landing needs to last a minimum of 2 seconds). The second step is to stick the landing and fall downward to the butt. The their step is to put steps 1 and 2 together quickly with feet kicking sand out in front of body. The fourth (and last step) is to do it without any sticking of landing or slowing down - do it all in one swift motion. This drill helps athletes to understand the proper landing once your body has gone through the flight phase (which is done by doing the mat drill from above).
See above : )