Yesterday was a speed day for the athletes.
The sprint coaches have seen that the team needed start-specific work so sprinters worked on knee and arm drives as well as body angles yesterday out of the blocks.
Afterwards they came to us and we outlined a whole new approach for the remainder of the season moving forward - our "transition of personal needs" phase.
From here out, athletes will be given a few options every day at practice to meet their own personal weaknesses and to better themselves in a way that will allow them to compete at their highest potential. Not every athlete has the same needs, and thus a set of options (stations) is how jumps practice will be run.
The athletes have learned 90% of the drills I planned on teaching them this season, so they know how to handle themselves when at a station. This doesn't mean I simply leave them, and believe that they will do what is necessary. I find the station that needs the most instruction from a technical standpoint and watch that for most of the time. The other stations can either be run by athletes themselves (coaching one another - great way to learn!) or the other jumps coaches (which was the case yesterday).
Here is how it was specifically set up:
Station 1 - Approaches. We've done so many approaches this year that EVERY athlete should know their mark, know how to perform the proper approach, and should have at least a little "board awareness". I asked one of the jumps coaches (Coach Kernen) to watch the boards for athletes that felt like they needed approach work due to scratches at prior meets.
This is a station that could be athlete-ran but it was great to have Coach Kernen there to watch over them. Her experience at the collegiate level far exceeds their knowledge.
Station 2 - Flight and landing work into high jump mats. We got out two old high jump mats and set them up for two different drills.
Mat 1 - Had a 6" box and was simply for popping up and working on the proper takeoff (flat-flat and upright - not leaning back), flight, and landing. The first step was to simply jog at the 6" box, use flat-flat contacts, pop up, and hold arms and knees in the proper (driven) position. The second step was to do the same but land on their feet in an "athletic stance". If done properly it shows the athlete didn't over-rotate and has good posture and center of mass. The third step was to put it all together and get arms involved (see mat 2 for more details) and landing on their butts.
Mat 2 - Had a 24" box that athletes were instructed to simply stand on. Once on the box (and facing the mat) they were told to hold a towel (with both hands) over their heads. As they jumped forward (not upwards) they were instructed to swipe the towel in a forward/downward motion to ensure it would pass their feet as they piked for landing. Once the towel went past their outstretched feet, it continued to travel under their legs and to their lower back (complete arm swipe like we use in the chair drill). Once behind them, they were instructed to release the towel and to snap their arms to their sides - this was done to help them avoid putting their hands back upon landings.
This was a new drill, but the kids did GREAT at it. Arms are an extremely hard concept for kids to figure out in the long jump. This drill will hopefully help them with that moving forward.
The mats were watched over by another jumps coach - Coach Cross. Her and I have been discussing landing work for the past two seasons, and she has been instrumental in reflecting on how to get our landings where they are today. I knew she'd LOVE to be in charge of that station.
The flight and landing station was very technical so if Coach Cross wasn't there I would have stayed at that station to ensure athletes didn't tell one another the wrong thing(s) to do.
Station 3 - Phases 1 and 2 of the triple jump. I put out two sets of banana hurdles. One set had a 6" hurdle for the hop phase and a 1' hurdle for the step phase. The second set had a 6" hurdle for the hop phase and a 1'6" hurdle for the step phase. The set with the lower 2nd hurdle was spaced closer than the other set; and athletes were told to choose which one they felt best suited them.
We went over the fact that many athletes are not using their back leg properly when landing (or about to land) the hop phase. The back legs aren't being "swung" and are instead simply being lifted. When used improperly step phases are very small and a great deal of distance is lost.
By putting out two hurdles like this, it forces the athletes to use their back leg properly to get over the 2nd hurdle. If they don't, they'll clip the hurdle and won't be able to execute their second phase.
I watched over this station as there are a few athletes I wanted to really assist in better understanding how to pull off a better step phase. One athlete was Landry (competed in our last meet) as I sincerely believe she has the potential to add 2-4 feet right now if she can figure out the second phase. That would put her in the 34-35' range.
I also wanted to work with a few athletes that are still learning the phases and wanted to get in a little bit more work before our upcoming competition - where a few of them are trying it for the first time.
Lastly, I used the station to teach it to someone that has never done it before. He is new to track this season, and has shown a great deal of potential. I approached him about a week ago to discuss the possibility of trying triple jump and he was all for it. Yesterday, after working only on phases 1 and 2, he jumped a 33' full triple jump from five steps and without a landing. I think this kid is going to be GOOD!
- - - -
This transition period is important. All team should have one. Now that we are getting into competitions athletes need to focus on their own "specific training" needs. This is a phase in the Periodization model, and is something I should have done earlier (week 5), but didn't feel the team was ready then. Now that I do, we will be doing stations like this regularly where they pick their own focuses from the options given.
These "given options" will be predetermined from my observations at meets, as well as, discussion with my peers and athletes.