Interview with Nick Newman

This is Part 16 of the weekly “Friday Five” series where I ask 5 tough questions to world class elite coaches. To recap:

  1. Jumps coach Boo Schexnayder
  2. Dr. Mike Stone of the USOC and NBA
  3. Performance specialist Henk Kraaijenhof
  4. USA’s Dan Pfaff, now with UKA
  5. Pierre-Jean Vazel of the French National Team
  6. USATF Chair for Men’s & Women’s High Jump Dave Kerin
  7. Michigan State University’s Randy Gillon
  8. Harvard/UTEP/Portland State/Syracuse’s Kebba Tolbert
  9. Performance consultant and EU Basketball S&C coach Jose Fernandez
  10. KIHU Biomechanist Tapani Keränen (The Research Institute for Olympic Sports in Finland)
  11. Stockholm’s Hammarby soccer club physical preparation coach Mladen Jovanovic
  12. Syracuse University Assistant Coach Dave Hegland
  13. Mike Young from EliteTrack.com and Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  14. Former Triple Jump Olympian turned coach Kenta’ Bell
  15. University of Akron’s Dennis W. Mitchell

Nick Newman, M.S., is a top 5 ranked British Long Jumper and has a graduate degree in Human Performance and Sport Psychology from California State University Fullerton.  He is also the author of The Horizontal Jumps: Planning for Long Term Development (Volume 1) and his website is www.jumprathletics.com.

His previous articles on this Blog were The Approach Run: The Technical Series and Strategies for Minimizing Fouling during the Horizontal Jumps (click here for Part 1 and for Part 2)

Friday Five is sponsored by Freelap Track and Field, a leader in electronic timing.

Interview with Nick Newman

Freelap Friday Five

Question 1. Can you describe how a typical technical session for a long jumper is planned and what you look for during it?

Nick Newman: One of the most important aspects of technical training is progression and periodization. It should be no different from how other aspects of training are periodized throughout the year. However, many coaches don’t view technical work like that and often technical sessions don’t fit overall training very well.

For me, I have a technical exercise bank like I have a physical exercise bank. Each technical exercise or drill has progressions and goals. The end goal of technical training is the same as the end goal of physical training, to have the athlete ready to jump far and jump accurately from a full approach.

Therefore technical sessions differ greatly during different times of the year. This ideal plan of progression is also largely affected by the technical develop of individual athletes. Ideal plans are very important as you need them in order to know exactly what you should strive towards. However, they are rarely followed 100% because of unique differences between athletes.
Generally speaking here is an example of an early season technical session:

Session Goals:

  • To reintroduce basic rhythm and timing of the take-off
  • To reintroduce low level steering and visual control
  • To develop basic flight coordination and timing

Session Structure:

  • Short warm up, static flexibility
  • Sprint drills, dynamic flexibility
  • 3-5 x 40m gradual build ups (focus on consistent rhythm and bounce)
  • 3-5 x 20m walking knee drives (focus on stiff plant and heel/toe roll over)
  • 3-5 x 40m skip-skip-take-off (focus on rhythm, free leg drive and posture – 80% effort)
  • 3 x 40m continuous take-offs (focus on fast take-off leg drive and vertical lift – 80% effort)
  • 3-5 x 2-4 stride take-offs into pit (focus on upright acceleration, visual control, vertical lift, posture – 95% effort)
  • Hurdle step over drills (focus on tall hips, coordination, balance, and rhythm

Generally speaking here is an example of an in-season technical session:

Session Goals:

  • High speed timing, coordination and whole technique
  • Advanced steering and visual control

Session Structure:

  • Short warm up, sprint drills
  • Dynamic flexibility, hurdle drills
  • 3-5 x 40m build ups (focus on approach rhythm and specific foot placement targets)
  • 3-5 x 40m 1-2-3 continuous take-offs (focus on penultimate to take-off action, and take-off angle – 100% effort)
  • 3-5 x 8-10 stride take-offs over high hurdle (focus on steering, posture, board penetration, take-off angle – 100%)
  • 3-5 x 10-14 stride full long jumps with specific board targets (focus on steering to multiple spots on the board)

The above two sessions are both on the opposite ends of the technical spectrum and should be carefully linked together over the course of the training year. They are both for ideal cases (which rarely happens). You may have athletes who struggle with the landing for example and who need extra attention in that area. Each case will be unique and it is up to the coach to determine how his/her technical bank is used and when.

Question 2. What is your preferred order of exercises or training types during a session?

Nick Newman:  Exercise order may vary depending on the time of the year, training focus/ theme, training phase, and/or level of the athlete.

Generally speaking my preferred order during different session types is as follows:

Warm up

  • Dynamic non specific
  • Static flexibility
  • Sprint drills
  • Dynamic flexibility

Technical Training

  • Rhythm running / form running
  • Isolated part skill drills
  • Continuous part skill drills
  • Runway/ pit part skill drills
  • Runway/ pit whole skill drills

Plyometric Training

  • Hopping drills
  • S/L Box exercises
  • D/L Box exercises
  • Bounding exercises
  • Medicine ball exercises

Speed Training

  • Form running
  • Short acceleration drills
  • Acceleration sprints
  • Fly / varied pace sprints
  • Speed endurance runs

Weight Training

  • Mobility exercises
  • Olympic lifts
  • Bilateral squat exercises
  • Olympic variations
  • Upper body pulls
  • Unilateral squat exercises
  • Posterior focus exercise

Question 3. If a jumper is incredibly advanced in one aspect of training but not in others how would his/her program differ?

Nick Newman: The individuality of an athlete’s training program lies in determining his/her strengths and weaknesses.

Generally speaking there are 3 types of jumpers:

  1. Very explosive / great accelerators / Strong – Lacks elasticity, top speed, and flexibility
  2. The opposite of the above
  3. Low, moderate, or high levels of all of the above components

The training program should reflect the levels of the above abilities. The order of importance of the abilities will vary depending on events. The long jump is mostly determined by top speed and explosive power whereas the triple jump relies more on elasticity and strength for example.

Once the abilities have been evaluated the training phases can be set appropriately. An athlete at the higher level of maximum strength and explosive power would spend less time developing those abilities at the expense of the other lacking qualities. Generally, elasticity and top speed are harder qualities to develop in athletes who are highly dominant in the maximum strength/ power area. Therefore, it is important to focus far more time with lighter/ faster weight training, repetitive jumping exercises, speed endurance and maximum speed training.

Too many coaches get caught up in not doing certain aspects of training until it is the "right time" but in my opinion all abilities need developing and if certain important areas of far behind others it only makes sense to focus more on them.

Question 4. Which psychological traits are most important for elite jumpers?

Nick Newman: Psychological fortitude or mental strength as many call it is certainly a huge element of a jumpers success. So much so that I am currently writing the second book in my horizontal jumps series solely related to the psychological aspects of elite jumping.
There are many psychological requirements for elite jumpers. Almost of the sports psych tool box can be used with jumpers at some point in the year. Early on in general preparation key areas include, motivation, self efficacy, perspective, and discipline. During the specific preparation phases goal setting, focus, confidence, self awareness, and arousal control become more important. Competitions are where the athlete needs the ability to trust, achieve optimal arousal and focus, have outstanding kinesthetic control, maximum confidence and a very resilient attitude.

All of the above abilities can be worked on and enhanced through practice and self evaluation. However from experience I would say that many of the best jumpers in the world possess high levels of the following traits naturally:

  • Confidence
  • Focus
  • Intrinsic drive/ motivation
  • Intensity
  • Attention to detail
  • Competitiveness
  • Resiliency

Question 5:  Looking back at the London Olympics, how would you handle the fast Mondo track on the runway? Or, swirling wind conditions? Can running too fast on the approach actually hurt your performance?

Nick Newman:  I have spoken with several coaches and jumpers who participated at the London Games regarding the track and weather conditions during the Men’s long jump event. Considering the practice time that most if not all of the jumpers received on the runway I wouldn’t put the results down to the new Mondotrack. However, generally speaking competing on a track which is considerably faster than an athlete is used to can cause problems such as steering issues, rhythmic change, and an inability to maintain correct technique and/or achieve lift. As with most athletic disciplines great performances tend to come through ease and relaxation and therefore when an athlete is achieving speeds he/she is unaccustomed to, it is important they relax and don’t try to force it even more. A natural reaction however is too push it and try to run even faster. Most of the time this doesn’t work in the horizontal jumps. This can also be the case on days when athletes are simply feeling amazing. Their speed is incredible and everything feels right yet they don’t perform well. Their focus is often placed on the wrong area and instead of letting the performance happen they give "extra" effort thinking it will turn the special feeling they have into something even greater. During competitions when an athlete is physically at their best they must simply relax and enjoy. Very hard to do however.

The windy conditions I am sure played a large part in the results of men’s long jump. I was told by several sources that the wind conditions were not portrayed through the actual wind gauge readings. There is no doubt that long jumping into a head or side is very difficult. It makes it almost impossible to jump your best. I would argue it effects the jumpers mentally far more than any of them would care to admit. It just isn’t fun. I would suggest simply using the full minute on the runway prior to the jump and patiently wait for the most favourable wind. It is also important to focus on the flag near the board as it is the wind condition there that is most important.

More about Nick Newman

Nick Newman, M.S. is a jumps coach, athletic performance coach, and top 5 ranked British Long Jumper with a current best of 7.80m (25’7). He was born and raised in Great Britain, where he graduated in 2001 with a two year A-level in Sport Science from Durham Community College. His bachelor’s degree is in Exercise Science from Manhattan College in New York in 2006 and in 2009 he earned a graduate degree in Human Performance and Sport Psychology from California State University Fullerton. Nick has been a lifelong researcher and contributor to sport science, specializing in the jumps. His most recent work has been authoring: The Horizontal Jumps: Planning for Long Term Development (Volume 1) which was published in June of 2012. The book is available for purchase at www.createspace.com or Amazon.com. Visit his website at website www.jumprathletics.com.

Comments

  1. rod constable says

    I found there was something to be gained from all of the interviews. Being a volunteer coach with no access to sports labs and high tech centres I found those aspects interesting but not as useful as the comments and ideas on hands on coaching in the field. Therefore I would say I benefited most from Kenta’ Bell and Pierre Jean Vazel, although Henk K.’s comments were very insightful as well.

  2. Larry Hunter says

    Great article. I myself am not a long jumper but Nick really covers all aspects of proper preparation for effective long jumping. ESPECIALLY the mental aspect. This is one aspect that a lot of coaches and trainers tend to overlook. What the mind can perceive, the body can acheive.

  3. Rick says

    Very good posting about psychological traits. I revised 100s of training plans and none of them has the psychological insights for each part of the day workout. Without this athlete can’t apply correctly in competition. Many of these skills are learned by been consistent in training, almost by chance. So it’s important to be specific when its time to refocus, to trust, to be tough and cocky inside and relaxed (level of arousal) in order to have a great performance.

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