Motivating and Evaluating Jumpers

This tutorial is guest blogged by Mike Goss, CSCS, and Level II USATF, jumps, throws, and combined events.  Mike is also in the Coaches Advisory for USATF-GA.  Last week, he wrote Progressive Training for Triple Jump.

“Make it look easy!”

Even highly motivated performers can have periods of staleness and lack of motivation. It’s vital for a coach to recognize excessive levels of physical, emotional and mental fatigue among his/her team. At times its a simple matter of active rest, nutritional changes, or steps toward submaximal training loads. Coaches at every level can acknowledge these tendencies and act accordingly. Rewarding hard work and enthusiasm to train is essential to our tasks! This article will describe alternative ways to maintain consistency and avoid the pitfalls of losing the edge in high performance training. Any event coach can use the following principles and ideas to create an independent and valid protocol to improve team training and performance.

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Planning a successful macrocycle (season) or specific mesocycle (3-4 weeks) doesn’t require intricate details. Most coaches will agree that attention to fundamentals and the five biomotor abilities ( speed, endurance, strength, flexibility and coordination) with balance and timing within the training year is critical to achievement. Connecting test and evaluation to any combination of these functions can be made a “contest” or challenge to the performers fitness and skill level.

A jumps centered evaluation would be predicated by a combination of the following skills in training:

  1. Force application (dorsiflexion and flat to rolling contacts)
  2. Postural integrity (spine and hip alignment over the contact foot – blended with force application)
  3. Velocity and tempo of running, jumping, and/or any combination of hops, jumps and bounds: This applies to standing starts – the capacity to create or maintain momentum, consider the triple jump; jog or run accelerations to single or continuous take-off – horizontal and vertical jumps. This list grows according to the event being emphasized and again to the biomotor elements being trained.
  4. Coordination and core strength evaluation in combination with the above

A team may incorporate a “Jumps Challenge” to improve enthusiasm, competition and a competitive arena to reinforce skill development. The chief ingredients include fun, peer competition and an encouraging environment. It’s important to utilize the activity as a test and measure of the effectiveness of a mesocycle: Sample model – incorporating elastic strength and force application mechanics. It’s vital to avoid redundancy and include multi-faceted training; development of biomotor abilities can be enhanced by simply recognizing and recording improved skills. The agenda requires minimal interruption of a training cycle and can build team spirit and comradery between entry level and veteran performers. The following example can be modified to include runs, jumps or throws. “Sprezzetura” ia a term signifying “make it look easy!”. This applies to the art and skill of successful track and field athletes.

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Rewarding Hard Work and Enthusiasm to Train is essential to our success!

Teaching remedial bounding, basic bounding, hops and multiple jumps from a standing start can easily incorporate hip position, posture, force application ie. dorsiflexion and rhythmic development. Applied with strength training, complex training ( use of Olympic style lifts with explosive movements) the multi-jump series can test and challenge each athlete to surpass his/her current measures.

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Pride in Being #1 is a Catalyst for High Performance!

Below is a series of jumps, bounds, hops and multiple movements utilized to confront and test jumpers to surpass current records. We often see motivational shirts that imply strength and speed prowess among football athletes. A small degree of ingenuity can create that same spirit of achievement for the track and field performer. Obviously, consistency in testing is vital; the protocol can easily be established by the coach/trainer. The athletes will typically enforce the rules and establish an atmosphere of intensity and friendly rivalry.

The below movements vary from two leg take-offs and contacts. The starts are all from a standing rock back or lean position. Each athlete is pre-tested to determine approach distance; tape measure marks the runway distance. The participant sets his/her start mark for the various drills. It’s important to keep a record of these start distances to allow for a timely transition from one test to another. The test protocol can be very simple for beginning athletes. Consideration to training age and strength level of the athlete is important.

The Jumps Challenge

Mike Goss Jumps Challenge

Creative training and testing modalities aren’t necessitated by gimmicks and gadgets. Ingenuity and use of basic equipment (shot puts, medicine balls, training hurdles, etc.) is simply integrated into run, jump and throw activities from various angles and postures. This includes measured courses using fartlek runs and inventive stations. As long as the testing adheres to consistent measurement, accurately set for the event, and training fundamentals – the tasks can be validated. Whether avoiding staleness and lethargy to peaking or evaluating a training cycle, any variety of competitive challenges may enhance phases of training. Open fields, hills and challenging terrain can be set as courses to train speed endurance, mobility, multi-jump skills and the competitive nature of each individual athlete. The use of uphill runs with wheelbarrows (weighted loads), hoops and hurdles (target jumps or barriers), along with specified hops, double leg jumps, and uphill power bounds can increase training intensities and competitive situations. Designed courses and challenges, along with slogans and awards, can help develop a unique history for each event group or team. Just as the “strong man” competitions use heavy implements and apparatus to test strength, a coach or trainer can design similar criteria for specific track events.

Following are two examples, “Jumpers Hill Repeat Records” and “Speed Squat Records”:

Each of these workouts has a goal or prerequisite for completion. Fundamentals of dorsiflexion, coordinated movements, and force application are magnified with hill training. Determination is an important trait, but the fundamentals of proper running mechanics are most essential here. Hill repeats can be followed for one mesocycle and set to specific goals. It may be as simple as recording a number of repeats, challenges to meet specific cut-off times, and incentives if times are met within certain limits. An example would be to record the first repeat and continue until the run time is more than one second below the goal – the goal may be matching within a second of the first repeat. It’s the coaches prerogative to determine the number of repeats and intensities based upon the recorded runs. Obviously, it’s vital to repeat specific numbers and times within the goals of the workout. The goal of a training cycle is determined by volume and intensity. When a peak or recovery period is achieved, this is the time for the coach to decide upon modifying competitive challenges. This may be blended with active rests or alternative recoveries (walking, calisthenics, med ball throws, or core exercises). Workouts of this nature reveal much about an athletes motivation and competitive nature. The question, “how good do you want to be?” is often addressed with challenging workouts.

100 Meter Hill Repeats – Jumpers

Mike Goss 100 Meter Hill Repeats - Jumpers

The late, Tadeus Starzynsky, crafted a squat routine that addressed speed/power development. Using bodyweight to weighted resistance ratios in the squat movement; he formulated a workout based on the speed of movement and weight increments to develop explosive power. These programs preceded electronic and (TENDO) digital equipment now afforded many programs. Patient and careful analysis can assist the coach and athlete into developing speed strength with the simple use of squat racks, boxes and a stop watch. The following example is a timed squat where the athlete:

  1. Performing a barbell back squat – descends to a box
    (set to individual athletes per 1/4 or 1/2 squat )
  2. execute a “quick and elastic” squat movement and touching the box with the buttocks – encourage “rattling” the bar
  3. Stop watch timing begins with the first contact and ends with the *6th of 7
    *completion of the 7th. repetition helps assure bar speed through 6 repetitions!
  4. weight increments are determined by the coach; adherence to proper technique and speed of lift is critical

7 total contacts (buttocks touch the box) using quarter or half squat movements. The workout ceases when the athlete has dropped below 1 second of his/her first set.

Speed Squats Mike Goss

The hill workouts, resistance training and multi-jump skills mentioned in this article preceded the “Jumps Challenge” competition. Utilizing a pre and post test evaluation of these described activities provides excellent indicators to the effectiveness of a training cycle. Recognizing and rewarding improvements tend to revitalize a groups motivation toward continued success.

A cooperative relationship with the strength and conditioning coach is valuable in developing unique and productive inter-team rivalry. As aforementioned, complex training (combining low repetition and explosive lifts with a jump or multi-jump drill) can be measured and recorded. This not only provides a measurement but increases enthusiasm to complete training goals. Just as athletes become training partners; these activities provide an opportunity to evaluate, record performance, and support one’s teammates. Athletes from youth to the professional level seldom outgrow the spirit of competition and goal setting.

Training is always a major factor in developing high performance. “Challenges” (personalized and unique to an event group or program) can become key factors in this process. Pride in being number one is a catalyst for high performance! A campus hill or training field becomes the stage for “legends”. To say the “sky is the limit!” is cliché, but with imagination and creative slogans your program can develop a unique sample for test and evaluation.

About the Author:

Coach Mike Goss, Sport Performance Coach & Coaches Advisory Board USATF-GA (Georgia)

CSCS, NSCA & Level II USATF jumps, throws, combined events

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