Coaching Junior AthletesI haven’t had time this past month to update my website. I moved very recently and can’t find anything…!!

My wife is working me to the bone and wants everything done ‘yesterday’…

But just settling into a routine and will be able to put fingers to keyboard very soon.

Still working on a blog entitled ‘From Nowhere to Somewhere’…..

Speak with you all soon,

All the very best,


The Long Jump Landing

NewsletterThe Long Jump Landing – the Leg Chute..

Key factor: The inclination of the jumper’s trunk…

KEY: If the jumper leans well forward during the FINAL moments of the flight phase, the legs are lifted in reaction to this movement and the touchdown is slightly delayed.

I know I’ve talked about this many times before BUT it is important. A good landing position can add 30cms to a jump….

It’s something I’ve been working on very hard these past few weeks with all my long jumpers. It makes sense…..

It is a timing issue and does require a lot of practice with a lot of very relevant feedback. But it’s worth it.

I’m insisting that all my group attempt to ‘press their chests to their legs [see below]…..

Landing 11

Speak with you all soon…

What Do Coaches See?

What does the coach see?Recently I asked two fellow coaches to take a look at one of my training group performing an action….

I did this because I wanted some objective feedback….

At times you can get ‘so close’ to an athlete in your training group and might miss a very obvious weakness or indeed a strength.

After the athlete had performed the skill/drill several times I asked the these two experienced coaches what they saw.

They both immediately told me all the percieved weaknesses they observed. Neither commented on what the athlete did well.

Now, this athlete is a very good athlete and strengths outperform weaknesses but it was very illuminating that they both ONLY observed weaknesses.

They made NO comment on the obvious strengths….

These type of comments are very typical of the majority of coaches. I come from a teaching background and for 28 years taught countless thousands of youngsters aged 11 – 18 years of age. I am well-versed in observation skills, analytical analysis and the giving of relevant and specific feedback..

It does concern me that the new breed of coach can only see what’s wrong. Yes, athletes will do certain skills and drills poorly at first, but to be constantly told what is wrong could be detrimental to their skilled development.

Some recent research indicates that if you concentrate on the strengths and encourage that strength it might have the effect of negating any weaknesses…

But to constantly focus on weaknesses is wrong.

When I coach and observe a drill or skill, I call the athlete over and the first thing I discuss is ‘what went well’ and ‘why it went well’. Only after highlighting the strengths do I focus on a ‘major’ weakness’ and how it might be rectified..

Speak with you soon…



NewsletterProprioception is achieved through muscles, ligaments and joint actions using messages that are continuously sent through the central nervous system [CNS].

The CNS then relays information to the rest of the body ‘telling’ it how to react and with what amount  of tension/action.

Ssome of these instructions go to the brain, where more often than not they acted on unconsciously, whilst others go to the spinal cord, where they are acted on automatically.

Proprioceptors are basically ‘sensors’ that reside within muscles, joints and ligaments. These respond to pressure, stretch and tension and are key im iniating what is known as the stretch reflex.

Proprioception is the capacity of the body to determine where all of its parts are positioned at any given time, and it plays an important role in the world of sports especially athletics and jumping…..

Think of it as a subconscious internal computer software programme that complements your conscious effort to stabilize everything, whether you’re moving or standing still. It triggers muscles to contract and relax to fit the situation.

You don’t have to think about it because your ‘internal software’ is reacting to the situation and sending instant messages to help your body make the necessary adjustments. Proprioception is also a factor in speed and direction of movement. Proprioception helps us perform better in sports and avoid injuries. Losing it because of an injury or lack of use requires a period of re-training to get it back.

There’s a fine line between proprioception and kinaesthetic awareness. Although some people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference.

Kinaesthetic awareness is a conscious effort to react to the situation, while proprioception is an unconscious or subconscious process.

The two mechanisms work together to allow a smooth, efficient, and safe platform for movement and athletic performance. For example, a long jumper whose body acts subconsciously (proprioception) to stay tall on the runway while the jumper’s mind (kinaesthetic awareness) processes data regarding environmental issues [wind, rain, surface conditions] and anything else he or she needs to make necessary limb adjustments when running at high speeds to the take-off board….

WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS?…………… Continue reading

A Runway Coaching Tip…

Shaping the flight styleAre your jumpers still fouling too much? Are you still looking for that skill or drill or coaching point that will make a difference?. Are you searching for those ‘magic words’ that will help the cause?

Try this…

I’ve a 17 year old female jumper whose strength is in the last six strides, especially the last two strides. This optimal speed to the board [without too great a speed loss] is her strength and we musn’t compromise it.

Any jumper can find the board and not foul if they slow down…

But she’s fouling marginally a lot and the resultant jumps are ‘big’ but obviously fouls, so don’t count. We are waiting for that little bit of luck that all jumpers need but the season is moving on.

I’ve been racking my brains for several weeks to come up with a solution. Last week I tried this….

I asked her to keep her eyes on the board ALL THE WAY down the runway BUT she musn’t drop the head forward, but only move the eyes so that the board is sighed throughout the length of the approach run. The head must be kept in a neutral position. I likened it to a car on ‘dipped headlights’……

I then asked her to ‘change her line of vision’ by raising her eyes so that now she was looking forwards – this change was to occur within the last six strides to the board.

I likened this to switching from dipped headlights to main beam…

All she had to do was raise her eyes without altering her head position.

After several run-throughs coupled with an active pop-up from the board and going into a held-thigh position she began to hit the centre of the board a lot more……

It’s possible that this subtle eye and head positioning is enhancing her spatial awarness and she is altering and refining her body positioning prior to touchdown and take-off slightly earlier……

It’s a work in progress and will keep you informed…

PS: Take a look at this coaching article written by Mike Powell [WR Holder for Long Jump 8.95m]…

Speak with you soon…

A Long Jump Training Unit

J3Below is a short video of James, a member of our training group working on take-off and flight phase mechanics in a long jump training unit…

He is using this drill just as an extension of his dynamic warm up.

He would probably perform 6-8 repetitions of this twice a week. Very important to place this drill into the whole skill at the end of the training unit. He would jump 3 times from his full approach…

Speak with you soon….



New 2014 Season Starts…

Shaping the flight styleIt’s the new competitive season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to see if all the planning and training will reap rewards. My group started their seasons in various parts of the UK…

Some were in Gloucester, one in Birmingham and a few were competing at a cold and windy Cwmbran Stadium…

I attended the meetings in Cwmbran. The Saturday meeting was a Welsh Junior League Meeting for U11, 13 and 15′s. I haven’t been to one of these meetings for decades and was amazed at the number of young athletes taking part. There appeared to be ‘thousands’ of them in every event….

Contrast this to the Youth Development Meeting the next day for U17 and U20 athletes. It was a case of spot the athlete!!

Many events had 2 or fewer athletes competing which was a shame…

What happens between the age of 15 to 17 years of age? What are we as a sport doing to retain athlete participation from the ages of 16 – 20. It appears not a lot. It was quite depressing…

It was a shame for the athlete and the coaches that the weather was not that kind. But then, it is still April. These youngsters train all through the winter to then be confronted with cold and windy conditions which obviously doesn’t help performance.

But I’m still puzzled and confused about his massive drop off in athlete participation after the U17 age grouping..

Any thoughts? Email me at

My own group posted some useful early season performances which has given me some encouragement BUT still too many fouls…!!!

Speak with you soon…

Learning how to Hang…

Landing 1I’ve recently been involved in a series of coaching development days for Welsh Athletics. I’ve concentrated on learning how to hang. This involved working with coaches and their jumpers…

Below are two short videos of these young, talented long jumpers working on the hang development. Just appreciate that they are young and inexperienced and this is just a snap shot of where they are technically at this moment…

The first film clip shows them all using the pit and practicing at the same time. The groups are small so they have a lot of jumps in a limited timespan. They are coming in from a very short approach run and utilizing 1m square jump-pads. This is not a landing drill but an exercise in shaping the split from the pad plus shaping the hang shape at the apex of the flight curve. They were asked to land in a low squat position.

We did move on and talk and practice about the preparation for an efficient landing position…

NOTE: See a previous blog on the landing

This second short film clip shows one of these young talented long jumpers demonstrating the hang from a 6 stride approach….

Speak with you all soon….


Shaping the flight style..

Shaping the flight styleThis is a sequence of photographs of one of the jumpers in my group shaping the flight style. I constantly film them for technical reference and feedback purposes…

He was coming in from a 6 stride approach run and using a flat take-off platform. We’ve done loads of work prior to this but we were working on the small details… Continue reading

Long Jump Landing

Jumps Warm UpFar too many jumpers fail to ‘nail’ that long jump landing. Too many enter the sand in a poor position and can lose up to 30+ cms in doing so.

How many of you actually coach the landing?

I know that if the other technical components before the landing [touchdown take-off and flight phase] are compromised then a ‘poor landing’ will probably result…..

But so many times a long jumper WILL have an efficient take-off, a good flight phase BUT still land poorly…..

I see so many ‘splash landings’ where the jumpers makes a very large whole and leaves behind a full imprint of their feet. It’s not unlike a young child jumping and splashing into every puddle in the street……!

Do young jumpers know the feeling of a technically efficient landing? I don’t think so…..

There has to be a basic understanding of flight mechanics. Jumpers must appreciate that once they have left the floor the flight path [parabola] is fixed and nothing can be done about it.

The angle of take-off is measured from the centre of mass, and the angle that the jumper takes-off from determines this flight path ….

So what should a jumper be attempting to do after the apex of the jump has been reached and they are on their way down to the sand?

Take a look at the following photographs… Continue reading

Jumps Warm Up…

Jumps Warm UpBelow are just a few of the jumps warm up and drills I do to start a technical jumps session. They also might be stand alone sessions to help develop eccentric strength….

I try to make every training unit I plan as near jump specific as is possible. You don’t need a wide selection of training ‘tools’ just a vivid imagination…..

Speak with you all soon…..


The Ankle Sweep-Back

NewsletterThe Ankle Sweep-Back on touchdown on to the board. Many jumpers are not active enough on to the board. Touchdown occurs BEFORE take-off, so a jumper must actively place the take-off foot on to the board and sweep the ankle ‘backwards’…

Leg Activeness At Touch Down….

  1. The leg placement at touch down well in front of the body will have a braking effect on the horizontal velocity. This needs to be minimised in order to preserve jump distance.
  2. As a coach you have to ensure that the jumper understands the concept of using an active type of foot placement at touch down into the jump. Because of the high speeds that long jumpers approach the board this is a difficult skill to master.
  3. This technique is best described as a ‘pawing’ or ‘backward sweeping’ action of the take-off leg. So the coach has to include an element of foot, ankle and leg placement drills into the programme. Done slowly at first to be ‘able to feel’ the effect then speed is added gradually.  Also, it ensures that the take-off leg remains ‘straighter’ for longer. This gives a better take-off position with the take-off leg remaining near the board even whilst the body is moving upwards and forwards. An efficient ankle sweep/back sweep coupled with a firm take-off leg could find 20-30cms worth of distance relatively early in the jump.
  4. The take-off foot moves backwards relative to the Centre of Mass at touchdown and so it’s forward horizontal velocity relative to the ground is reduced. This results in a smaller braking force as the foot hits the ground and the loss in the horizontal velocity of the Centre of Mass is minimised during the initial part of the following contact phase.
  5. The relative velocity of the foot to the ground is measured for convenience by the speed of the ankle joint and can be termed the ‘ankle sweep-back’. Leg activeness is determined by the ankle sweep-back speed at touch down.
  6. To sum up:- Sweepback speed helps PULL the body over the leg and helps to reduce the loss of horizontal speed.

Speak with you soon…