Over the years I've learned how valuable "keeping it simple" truly is. That lesson continues to speak volumes to me even now after nearly 15 years of coaching the long and triple jumps.
I've recently been coaching athletes privately in hopes of reaching as many athletes as possible instead of focusing on a single team of athletes. In my sessions with these athletes, I've kept my focus squarely on simplicity, open collaboration, and regular feedback.
In attempting to communicate simplicity's great importance, I will focus on two athletes in particular - Zoe and Caitlin. Both have very limited knowledge and experience in the jumps, and thus both have needed a "ground up" approach in teaching them about the jumps.
Zoe is a junior that has never jumped before. She has been very unsure of how to proceed with her training. Her seemingly unconfident persona was something I worked with in hopes of empowering her at every turn. We worked on her approach for weeks before advancing to the next phase in her training. From there, I introduced her to the "flat-flat" drill in hopes of teaching her the proper rhythm of the last two steps. Once that was somewhat understood, we progressed to some short approach jumps into an indoor sandpit. From there, we progressed her out from short approach jumps to "medium approach" jumps - eventually getting to all-out regular long jumps. Now, she is showing confidence and a desire to get better with everything she does. She has been successfully empowered and it happened due to a carefully planned, progressive approach that was built on... SIMPLICITY.
Caitlin much like Zoe had a small amount of experience, but what differed was the fact that she has competed in track and field before. As well, her father is a well-known head coach here in WI. When they first reached out, I asked for videos of previous jumps and made my decisions as to what we would focus on. In addition, I suggested she connect with Elite Sports Performance at the Prairie Athletic Center in Sun Prairie, WI. From there, we worked on the approach, the long jump takeoff, the first phase in the triple jump, the first and second phase connections in the triple jump, and landing work. That's it! I saw enough to know that was all she needed (at the time). Now, Caitlin won the triple jump at a meet yesterday (33'9" - PR of over two feet) and took 2nd in the long jump (16'3 - MASSIVE PR). Now that she has accomplished this, I have looked over videos and have a new set of drills and focuses we can progress to. We took it one step at a time, and now we transition to the "next level" of focus in hopes of achieving even bigger jumps in the near future! I couldn't be more excited and proud of her amazing efforts!!!
With both athletes, I kept it simple. I progressed through steps that were properly aligned to connect their knowledge with all that had been taught previously. I didn't look for a way to rush their development or push them quicker than needed in hopes of achieving some unattainable results. Keep it simple. Go slowly. Reflect often on whether more exposure has been earned. Collaborate with the athletes regularly.
Good luck out there everyone!
- Coach Ewing