Christmas Long Jump Competition 2014

NewsletterThe 2nd Annual Invitational Long Jump Competition is TODAY at the National Indoor Athletics Centre on the Cardiff Met Campus.

The competition starts at 11.00am. Would all jumpers please be at the centre at 10.00am to register and warm up….

Remember that you have to pay normal stadium entry plus a £5 competition entry fee.

The registration desk will be at the side of the sandpit…..

For more detail please click on this link…

See you all at 10.00am,

All the best,


PS: Spectators are very welcome


The Warm Up

Warming Up 2The warm up..


What do you include? Are you a warm up fanatic? Does your training group spend an inordinate amount of time warming up before you begin to train? Do you watch your group warming up? Do you insist that all your group do the same warm up? Do you go from general to specific? Do you tailor the warm up to the event? How long should a warm up be?……….

When a new group member joins our training group I’m often amazed at how poor they are in structuring a suitable warm up. I often have to resort initially to devising a warm up for them. Because we are essentially a speed and power based group we have to warm up well because of this. I need them ready to practice at high intensities which does involve explosive and reactive activities.

As coaches we all understand the physiological and mental implications why a warm up is necessary before any training session…

At my coaching base I constantly observe coaches and their groups warming up and see a wide range of warm up activities…[both general to specific]..

  • But am I the only coach who thinks that warm-ups are now becoming more important than the event specific training? I say this ‘tongue in cheek’ but the emphasis on a warm up now is becoming like ‘show time’…

We have one athlete in our training group whose warm up appears endless and we are always waiting for this athlete to finish so we can start…

I might have to ask this athlete to turn up 30 minutes before the rest of us!!

My combined events group are young but extremely talented so teaching goes cap in hand with coaching. To this end, I have produced 4 warm up task cards and these are given out prior to beginning training. They work in pairs and work through the exercises and drills on their card. Each session they are given a different card so that within two to three weeks they have a ‘bank’ of 40+ general to specific warm up activities to include before they train. They like this approach…

In time they are able to select exercises and drills from all of the cards and structure a warm up that they are really comfortable with and actually enjoy…

We constantly refresh the warm up activities periodically, take some out and so on…

Below is just one of the cards….

  1. 2 laps of track -2nd lap is a combination of running sideways, bounces, skips etc]…
  2. Forward lunges over 20mts x 3…
  3. Reverse lunges over 20mts x 3…
  4. 10 x lateral lunges PLUS 10 x angled lunges…
  5. 3 x running backwards over 30mts…
  6. 3 x low impact skips over 40mts…
  7. 3 x high impact skips over 30mts…
  8. 4 x straight leg bounding to high knees ro run out over 40mts…
  9. 6 x SAQ hurdles – dynamic vertical jumps x 2…
  10. 4 x acceleration runs to 50mts…

Speak with you soon

All the best,


PS: If you have a comment please email me at…


What a Facility…

What does the coach see?Take a look at this training facility in Amsterdam. This forms part of the Ajax Football Club’s training facilities. Not even at an athletics club….

A speed and jumps coach would love to have this at the bottom of the garden!!

Ajax 2

Ajax 1Speak with you soon to discuss the warm up..



Triad Training

Coaching Junior AthletesWhat is Triad Training? – broadly speaking, it is complex training with combined explosive weight training and plyometric exercises….

Recently, I have just been reading an informative and thought provoking article written a while ago by William P. Ebben and Douglas O. Blackard.

I’ve been utilizing many forms of complex training in my speed and jump programmes for a very long time with excellent results and have written a 20 page manual on the subject.

Whilst not a huge fan of spending huge amounts of time in the weights room my training group spend a lot of time performing complex pairings. This they really enjoy because it so varied and develops and enhances eccentric strength.

This article by Ebben and Blackard explores the rationale of utilizing THREE exerices in a complex, as opposed to two..

COMPLEX TRAINING - a general overview…

High load weight training and plyometric training each result in physiological and adaptations which help develop athletic power. Explosive weight training such as Olympic style lifts and its variations requires even greater power output than traditional “power” lifts, such as the bench press, squat, and dead lift….

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes [2]

Training 3Training 4My combined eventers are still in their aerobic and speed endurance phase. They are competing in the British Schools Indoor Champs in Glasgow on Saturday December 13th.

Primarily, all of them are sprinter/jumpers so this type of training takes them well out of their comfort zones. But they have all responded incredibly well and all sessions have been completed with no complaints. But as you can see from the photographs they were very tired..!!!!

The two sessions above were…

  • 6 x 200mts with a 90 second recovery [running at race pace]
  • 600/500/400/300/200 at race pace….[all recoveries were 2 minutes]…

Last evening [Monday November 17th they did 1 x 300/2 x 200 and 2 x 150mts…

Prior to each over-distance training unit we work on TWO of the more technical aspects. Last evening it was shot and long jump.

Speak with you all soon…

Behind the scenes…

NewsletterI shouldn’t imagine many athletic supporters knows what really goes on behind the scenes on a typical training night. They do know that athletes work hard but do they really know the pain that is experienced by some…!!

I’m currently working with a talented group of junior combined events athletes. They are predominantly sprinter/jumpers so a lot of work has to go into developing their throwing skills and techniques along with increasing their speed endurance and aerobic endurance.

Being sprinter/jumpers they think anything regarded as a longer running repetition as being up to 150mts and definitely not beyond 200mts…!

But, they all have to run an 800 or 1000mts at the end of a very hard day on the track and on the field. It’s something they dread…

My training group are in the middle of a training block of over-distance training. They are doing sessions in which they are completely taken out of their comfort zone.

Daley Thompson [Olympic Decathlon Champion] famously stated that his major aim in a decathlon was to to have won the title after the 9th event so that he could ‘enjoy’ the 1500mts….

Below is a very recent photograph of the group at the conclusion of such a ‘longer rep session’….

They had just completed 6 x 200 in a target range of 29-35 secs with a 90 second recovery between repetitions. You wouldn’t think this a typically tough session but try explaining that to a group of sprinter/jumpers.

Training 2Three days previously they had completed a 400/300/200/300/400 session. They are not distance athletes so we work primarily on getting them to a set point on the track in a presubscribed time. For example: some of them are working on running every 200mts in 35 secs which should give them an 800m time of approximately 2.20secs. Some are running their 200’s in 40 secs which will give them an 800m time of approximately 2.40secs and so on…..

They get used to judging pace and not having that rush of blood and attempting to follow the combined eventers who can run 800’s/1000’s and 1500mts and dying that very early death….!

As they improve we cut the recovery times accordingly… But it’s a long steady process and in no rush.

Our next session is 600/500/400/300….they can’t wait!!!

My next blog will look at the ‘warm up’. Are you satisfied with how your group warms-up? Do you have to lead it or can they warm up for their event specific without supervision. Should you teach a warm up or types of first?

Speak with you all soon…

All the best, Nigel

PS: Just had several new subscribers to my newsletters: Coaches from Iran, Switzerland, New Zealand and Israel….THANKS SO MUCH

Coaching the Drill versus Coaching the Event

Shaping the flight styleCoaching the Drill versus Coaching the Event

This is becoming quite a conundrum. How many drills do you include in any training unit? There are coaches who don’t include any drills and those coaches whose training units are simply all drills….



Gambetta 2014 states…

I struggle with the infatuation with drills. More drills do not improve skills. A few drills used wisely can help, but don’t stray too far from the actual skill you are trying to develop. No substitute for knowing your sport and the demands to design effective practices.

This is a matter that’s been on my mind for a very long time. Many athletic coaches coach in complete isolation and might possibly never see another coach for long periods of time. They can’t ask and discuss any manner of coaching problems – although, in my experience, not many coaches ask for advice!!

I coach out of the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff, Wales and coach alongside many other coaches and their groups. Sometimes the other group are right next to you, so you are able to observe, and at times be able to listen to the coach offering coaching advice, analysis and feedback….. Continue reading

Strength Training for Jumpers

Weight Training ExercisesI’ve been searching through my ‘archives’ and came upon an article written back in 1978 by Dursenev and Raevsky. The article is entitled ‘Strength Training for Jumpers’.

I’ve condensed it and attempted to glean for you the most important points. Many of the recent strength articles link sports performances with effective work ‘only in the concentric action – muscle shortening‘. Hence the athlete’s maximum strength is judged by the greatest strength that his/her neuro-muscular system can develop during a maximum voluntary contraction.

Dursenev & Raevski state that all strength training regimes develop strength using concentric movement patterns.

Recent studies have shown that in JUMPING EVENTS one’s results are limited not by the maximum strength manifested by the take-off leg extensors and spinal extensors, but by the strength which these muscles demonstrate during their stretching, during their work in the ECCENTRIC [yielding] action.

All this means is that when the take-off leg strikes the board at high speeds all the leg muscles are lengthening so they must exhibit great levels of relevant and specific strength in this lengthening process in order to be able to have control at touchdown/take-off…. Continue reading

Spatial Awareness

THE WARM UPI’ve just read an article on the problems of the development of spatial awareness and how coaches use an assortment of  visual stimuli to help in this process. I’m sure as jumps coaches you have jumpers who find the board with amazing regularity and jumpers who are ‘serial foulers’….

But are those jumpers who rarely foul compromising their speed to the board in those vital last six strides to the board – and that’s the reason they don’t foul that much?

I work very hard with every horizontal jumper in my training group on the development of spatial awareness. The times I’ve stated that the runway approach is a complex, serial skill. It’s a component of the event that does require special attention.

Last week I handed over to the group the  total responsibility for their own approach run. It’s like a fingerprint – no other jumper has an approach run that is totally  identical to someone else’s. We’ve all done enough work on this aspect these past years and they all have a good understanding on the structure and dynamics of runway running…

Since I’ve done this,  I’ve noticed a real determination to succeed We start the runway approaches right away and I ask them to do a minimum of 10 approach runs each week. So by next March they will have completed at least 240. I told them in no uncertain terms that if the foul a lot next year then it’s not MY fault [tongue in cheek]…. Continue reading

Our 1st Training Session Back..

What does the coach see?I’ve just had a months complete rest from coaching athletics. It’s the longest break I’ve ever taken but enjoyed every minute of it. Our 1st training session back was very enjoyable…

We met up on a very sunny morning at Roath Park in Cardiff and we adapted the natural environment for our training purposes. We ran slowly around the park to warm up…[approx 1 mile]..

Roath Park Lake

Roath Park Lake

This was followed by individual warm ups…

My Training Group 2014 -2015

Training Group 1After the warm up we did a hill session followed by inclined hill bounding. This session was just a pre-cursor for all the hard work to follow. It was intended as a bit of fun to get things going but I was very pleased with how they all worked.

Below is a short excerpt of what we did. A few posture and mechanical issues but that will be remedied as the training programme evolves…

Speak with you all soon..

Greg Rutherford’s winning leap of 8.29m..

What does the coach see?Let’s take a look at this short video of Greg Rutherford leaping out to 8.29m at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

The commentry is not in English but this doesn’t matter – the visual is self-explanatory..


What are we looking for?

We are looking for 3 things..

Take-of distance….
Flight distance….
Landing distance….

This jump was potentially an 8.50+ jump. We now know that the total distance jumped is the combination of the 3 distances above…

Lets see how Greg worked his way through each ‘phase’…..

Greg has very good runway speed, well balanced and attacks the board. I’d love to see the stats on his loss of speed over the last six strides. If any jumper can limit that loss to under 10% then they will jump well…

Jumpers need to find that optimal speed to be able to take-off effectively and dynamically  without being off-balance and un-coordinated.

No great SINK on that penultimate step. It’s my belief that ‘too much sink’ will result in loss of speed. This sink takes place naturally in preparation for take-off. I don’t coach it but do emphasise the fact that the last but one foot contact should be onto a flattened foot. This gives a sink of about 2-3cms…

Greg’s take-off distance could be lengthened. He was in to much of a hurry to reach the flight phase. If he had HELD a little longer in that split position from the board he would have found an extra 10-20cms…

His flight phase and preparation to land are superb. Notice how he locks the arms behind the head at the apex of the flight phase and KEEPS THEM THERE until required on the descent to the sand. His core strength keeps him upright for longer.

On the parabola to the sand he initiates a dynamic leg lift – but legs were slightly uneven. He brings the legs through quickly as short levers before driving his arms and chest down to his thighs [not unlike a piked-position]. He keeps his head up, never looking for the sand. On landing with his heels landing he ‘folds’ the legs thus bringing his backside through to fill the holke left by the heel cut.

NOTE: Younger jumpers need to practice this a lot. It can add over 30cms to a jump…

Speak with you all soon…

Rhythm Drills To Improve The Long Jump Run Up

NewsletterRhythm Drills to Improve the Long Jump Run Up….

The aim of the long jump approach is to establish maximum horizontal velocity without inhibiting the take-off.
In practice, the most decisive factor in determining the distance jumped is the SMOOTH linking of a fast approach run to a powerful and well coordinated take-off.
Ter-Ovanesyan [Russia] states that long jumpers must, right from the beginning, be made aware that ‘the approach does NOT FINISH at the board’.

  • The board is regarded only as a part of the total distance to be covered in a smooth relaxed acceleration with increasing concentration and an aggressive approach just before reaching it.
  • Long jumpers must in their training take into consideration the specific characteristics of the approach and not merely follow sprint training procedures.

Speed on the runway is vital and must depend on the jumper’s ability to accelerate to top speed. The approach requires precision in the stride pattern and a consistent rate of acceleration. The general construction of the approach run in the long jump has the coach and jumper developing the following important factors:
1. Length of approach
2. Rate of acceleration
3. Overall speed of the approach
4. Uniformity
5. Rhythm in the last strides

It is apparent that a lot of the jumper’s training MUST be done on the runway at speed. A jumper must establish the speed, control and accuracy for this most important phase.

These methods include: high knee lift runs, various forms of accelerations, downhill runs, technique runs over 30 to 40mts, varied pace runs, rhythm runs, sprint drills and starts.

According to Adams 1983: trends towards the training and development of event specifics for the long jump suggest that it can be divided into three parts:

1. Development of the ability to run ‘in balance’ and adjust to this balance [eg: technique runs, varied pace runs].
2. Development of consistency [stabilization of the approach eg: acceleration runs, rhythm runs, accuracy runs.
3. Development of basic speed. He comments that it is dangerous to assume than an improvement in sheer sprinting speed will lead automatically to improved distances. The jumper MUST learn to use the speed.

  • With all this emphasis on speed on the runway and the complexities of the approach, many problems can emerge. These have been well documented and include:

1. Approach too long or too short
2. Lack of proper rhythm…
3. Slowing down over the last strides…
4. Uncoordinated running, especially over the last strides…
5. Tension throughout the approach and over the last strides…
6. Inhibited by the board…
7. Blocking at the take-off…

Speak with you soon…