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In response to Greg Rutherford’s Long Jump Victory in London, here is a response from Kenta’ Bell, a two time USA Olympian (2004, 2008) in the Triple Jump and the 2001 Gold medalist at the World Student Games in Beijing, China.
Kenta’ Bell’s past guest articles include Ballistic Power for Better Athletic Performance and Advanced Plyometrics for Jump and Sprint Training, both are must reads. He also made a VIDEO: How to Teach Bounding (in 4 Easy Steps), and you can read my Interview with Kenta’ Bell “Friday Five”.
Kenta’ Bell’s website is www.thinkingfeet.com and you can reach him at horizontalvelocity (at) hotmail.com
Response to Greg Rutherford’s LJ Victory
Looking at the Games from the perspective of an athlete first, self coached athlete 2nd and now a coach/consultant and I have many thought and opinions on your article. You have posed many great point of interest in your observation on the men’s long jump and I have the triple jump qualification. I will waste no time diving into these topics. Keep in mind that much of what I’m expressing and sharing comes from lessons of my own trials and tribulations. Learning the hard way.
Why are so many athletes fouling and having such poor jumps when the sprinters on the same surface are doing so well.
The first observation I would like to make is that 100% (x) 2 = INJURY, not 200. The jumps are about having maximum controlled velocity. One of the main reasons we do maximum velocity sprint training is so that when we get on the runway and drop back into our relaxed comfort zone we are where we would need to be. It’s basically like watching Bolt or Felix glide through the rounds fast but easy and controlled. Yes they could run faster but they don’t have to.
I have often said that one of the most critical portions of jumps and sprint training is acceleration development. This is because out ultimate speed is determined by our ability to accelerate. Running on a fast runway such as London for a jumper is about like running with a huge tailwind. As a jumper you don’t over work or over run a tailwind or you will get slammed every time or have lots of foul problems.
What I have found to work from personal experience and gotten great results with coaching through an athlete that I’m working with who qualified for the triple jump final there is that the getting a really good drive phase and acceleration is the key. After “the drive” the athlete should basically look to control his/her run and steer into the board. The emphasis then is not on running as hard and fast as possible to the board, but more or less floating it in on mechanics and arm rhythm. This leaves the athlete free to steer in and make any adjustments necessary to successfully execute a great take-off and jump.
If and when the athlete needs to jump further they simply push out of the back a little harder. This probably sounds totally contradictory to most, but look back at Usain Bolt in 2008 100m final. During the last 15m when he was celebrating his speed or mechanics didn’t change and he continued to distance himself to the finish.
Looking at the injuries of many of the top jumpers and the commonality of why they are so similar is a no brainer.
It goes back to my argument on training jumpers to be great jumpers.
The majority of these coaches spend an unbalanced amount of time on speed and strength training as compared to jump training. I’m not just talking about jumping from the board into the pit. You always hear me talk about force reduction before force production, in force reduction is when the muscles elongate and elastic energy is stored. This is achieved by doing box jumps, plyos, calf negatives and etc. the majority of athletes spend all their time doing calf raises and going up. This motion in itself shortens the tendon and ligament.
Unfortunately the only time you are in this position as a jumper or sprinter is during the toe-off portion of the stance. From the time the athletes foot makes contact with the ground and until he passes over it and starts to drive off that athlete is In a eccentric/elongated contraction. This argument applies to the sprints as well.
In the past few years we have seen a significant rise in calf and Achilles Injuries in the sprints as well. The majority of the do no negative calf/Achilles work. They train in flat to neutral trainers then go to spikes that are rigid and built up in the toe-box area creating high tension and stretch in an untrained unprepared area. From there they move to the newer starting blocks that force the athlete to place the entire foot which means that athletes who in the past didn’t know how to appropriately load the Achilles in the set position are being force into that stretch. Its inevitable that over time something has to give. In most cases it’s the Achilles or the calf muscle.
In summary when you get into these situations less can definitely be more. The average athlete in this type of situation is going to do two things:
- attempt to be perfect in technique and execution
- tighten up slightly due to pressure.
The pendulum swings both ways and you want be in the middle. This is when the coach and athlete need to have a good relationship and have an understanding of how he or she competes and what that athletes tendencies and mechanical faults are. In the triple your best bet is always on being big and open, let it all hang out.
Trying to perfectly execute will truncate mechanics and create the opposite of the desired result. In the long jump its always best to relax, be patient in your run and let your speed come to you. Unlike in the sprints at our finish line we have to summate forces upwards 7-10X our body weight and be patient enough to let things happen and flow from there.
His website is www.thinkingfeet.com and you can reach him at horizontalvelocity (at) hotmail.com