Tonight we worked on starts and getting some basics down for consistency sake.
The practice started with me teaching all explosion (sprints) athletes the proper standing start (will discuss more further later in the post). This was important because kids need to better understand angles, arm movements, etc. so that they can get up to speed quickly out of the blocks, in the jumps approaches, and/or while in an exchange zone. The athletes did a good job with this, but many still have work to do.
The picture is obviously from a different season (I wish our track was already clear of snow...), but it's one I wanted to use due to how good this athlete is/was at starts. I feel it clearly shows the proper start: athletic static (not moving) stance, opposite arm and leg combinations mirroring one another, eyes on the ground with neck relaxed, and back arm up high to aid in the first step.
Once done with the whole team, my coaches and I took all jumpers and went over the start in even more detail. We discussed it from top to bottom and explained all the parts and their importance. We had each athlete write down their front foot, their jump foot (found by doing jogging and performing a simple takeoff without thinking about it), and their number of total steps in their approach (I'll explain more in a bit) on a 3x5 card. I find this step to be very important because many athletes forget which foot should be in front on the start, and if done incorrectly will lead to scratching.
As for the approach number, I told my athletes this - it completely depends on age and experience. If they are inexperienced I gave them very low options for total steps. If they have some experience, but aren't yet a senior I gave them options in the "middle range". If they are seniors I gave them the option of any number of steps that suited their own personal needs. My range of steps is 11-16. I highly recommend for high school students that you NEVER go over this number unless you have an athlete that takes awhile to get to top speed and needs that extra space. There is a great deal more potential to "mess up" in larger approaches than there is in smaller ones...
Once all 3x5 cards were filled out, we had them practice starts, and really worked on cues by physically putting them in the proper positioning (if needed). We had them work on being explosive and only had them do 4-5 total steps.
Is an "X-factor" day so our jumpers will be working on leg strength, explosiveness, and takeoffs! Looking forward to this!