This past weekend in Whitewater the coaching staff and I had some discussions about approaches in the jumps. We had a lot of scratches, and I told the head coach we simply weren't ready.
With all that we've add this year (the big one being our new mental strength routine) there simply wasn't enough time to get my kids prepared for the lane.
That's when the head coach came up with an idea (hence the picture) that should've happened years ago. During speed days event coaches will get to take either boys or girls for speed work at their events. That leaves a much more manageable amount of athletes for the sprint coaches to work with, and gives me more time to teach the many intricacies of the approach to my very large jump crew.
This is generally what colleges do - leave the speed training to even coaches, and I LOVE that we are transitioning to that model. I won't work with the kids every time, but each week there will be more time to work on consistency and experience in the lane; and that makes me VERY EXCITED!
The approach is crucial in the jump. If an athlete doesn't believe in his/her approach they will slow down before hitting the board, and will lose a great deal of speed in doing so. Speed is extremely important in both jumps, and with little trust in their approaches athletes simply won't maximize their potential.
Just this past weekend I watched an athlete that had great speed jump herself into finals on speed ALONE. She never once seemed to care there was a board, and never once tried to hit it. She just ran and jump. I once read an article that stated every female athlete should be able to hit 16' in the long jump as long as they attack the lane/board correctly. For males it was 20. I believe this to a point, but know that saying "every" can get a little tricky. All I know is that the importance of speed (without hesitation) is extremely important, and the article did a great job at conveying that message!
So, my co-jumps-coaches and I (plus a student volunteer) spent a great deal of time working on approaches with the boy jumpers yesterday. We finally have numbers for almost everyone, and kids were showing their ability to be consistent - which is good!
The one thing I wasn't happy with was their inability to stay active between jumps. Athletes need to understand that allowing themselves to get cold is counterproductive and makes their approaches very inconsistent. I always tell kids to "keep a small sweat" (even during indoor meets). The athletes yesterday weren't doing very well with this, and they heard it not only from me but also one of the sprint coaches that was watching from afar. They've gotta figure this component out...
Once the boys were done with approaches I introduced them to the landing progression we do in the pit. First step is a standing long jump with a "gymnast" landing (freeze upon landing). Second step is the standing long jump with freeze, and a falling to their butts (basically just sitting down in the sand). Last, the athletes do all the covered movements without the freeze. Once athletes are good at this, I have them do short approach jumps (focusing on the last two steps being flat) so they can get used to it at slow speed. They did a GREAT job with this tonight!
After that, the boys went to the weight room and the girls came over and worked on approaches. Landing work was not done due to a shorter time together. I will be doing this with the girls later this week.
We have another X-factor day. I will be working with triple jumpers on the correct foot contacts on landings, and will be asking them to do the first two phases with speed (off of the mats). Really looking forward to another X-factor day - one of my favorite focus days!!!