Running and Run Up Skills and Drills

DSCF2468 This blog is the THIRD in a series of technical articles taken from a Horizontal Jumps Workshop I organised way back in 2006 in Cardiff. John Crotty – one of the UK’s top jumps coaches outlined his views on the coaching of long jump…


Running and Run Up Skills and Drills…

How Often…….Run-up every week, sprinting every week, probably four running sessions per week, almost throughout the year.

  • As fast as you can…
  • Try not to use check or cues, run up is a perception…
  • Use visualisation to see yourself on the board…
  • Run up length to achieve maximum speed via maximum stride length, 18-20 strides for most world class LJ and TJ(with exception of Pedroso)30-35m women, 35-40m men…
  • Need to find a rhythm [check marks won’t help with this]…
  • Range of movement on to the take off board is crucial to penetration at take-off. Many athletes forgo range for leg cadence-wrong…
  • Emphasis in training on 11-6, 6-1m, 0.1m/sec can make a difference of between 6-12cms in long jump…
  • Length of the second and last stride are also crucial…

Reason for no jumping is mental(see article by Modern Athlete and Coach panel 1997: Can we reduce fouls in horizontal jumps)

Speak with you all soon,

All the very best, Nigel

Technical Training for the more experienced long jumper

DSCF2467This is the 2nd article taken from a Horizontal Jumps Conference I organised way back in 2006 in Cardiff.

John Crotty [at the time the UK Athletics National Event Coach for horizontal jumps] presented ‘his approach’ to coaching club and the more experienced horizontal jumpers.

This is how he would structure a technical jumps training programme for the more experienced horizontal jumper who has attained, or is on the verge of international honours…

Technical Training….the problem solving approach?

How Often – once per week, good conditions if possible, at a time when the jumper is most fresh i.e. after a rest day. Competitions decide the frequency of technical work in training.

 Long approach-e.q. minimum of 12 strides, this assumes that the technique is ‘good’
 Take off angles for men between 21-24 degrees (Pedroso 24.9(97) Lewis and Powell greater than 24 degrees, women between 18-22 degrees, Johannson 28 degrees?
 Limited sinking…
 Active take off…
 Reaching followed by backward and downward movement. Angle to the vertical 26 degrees to maximise vertical velocity, 70% eccentric, 30% concentric, max take off angle 140
 Jumps at speed over hurdles…
 Landing keep straight-tape used to focus on linear movement in the air and with the feet on landing…
 As with the club jumper, use of boxes to perfect technique…
 Free leg alignment at take off needs checking-view from the front…

NOTE: There has been research done on the use of ankle weights and vests to condition at take off. The research does not recommend this, and neither do I, since it changes the rhythm to the board and in most likely to encourage sinking prior to take off and sinking during the approach run.

Next Week…Skills and Drills, Running and Run Up….

Speak with you next week,

All the best,


Coaching Points..

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014Coaching Points – What do you say when you are attempting to highlight an important technical point. Are you able to express yourself succinctly? Are you able to find a novel way of putting your point across?


Sometimes a definitive technical description goes over the athletes head so you have to find a term, a word or a phrase that triggers understanding and ultimately improvement….

Personal Observation: Some younger, less experienced coaches aren’t able to express a technical point except for in it’s purest, complicated way. Because they don’t have differing points of technical reference due to lack of coaching experience they sometimes experience coaching and communication problems.

An anecdote – I once heard a very experienced sprints coach become very exasperated with a young male sprinter on a coaching weekend. The lad didn’t understand the technical nuances of the drill so the coach said ‘when you come off the bend give it some ‘welly’ and run like your backside is on fire’ – although he didn’t use the word backside!

The lad got the message and progress was made…

  • This past few weeks I’ve been working on the phases of the long jump that make up the total distance. The take-of distance, the flight distance and the landing distance…..

I’ve attacked this objective from many ways because my group members pick up skills and drills at different rates.

The group all know now that when I say ‘split and hold’ they drive from the board, attain good take-off leg extension and get a good wide SPLIT from the board with their lead thigh at the parallel. This they must hold for a short while…[I use the held-thigh drill for this]….

They all know what I mean by ‘go along for the ride’ when in the flight phase. They have to hold on to the flight shape a little longer. Don’t be in a hurry to land…

They all understand what I mean when I say ‘land to sit’. On the descent to the sand they have to bring both legs through from behind the hips as short levers dynamically, and try to get into a sitting position prior to landing. If they can do this you can then refine the ultimate landing position.

For this we’ve been utilising a large crash mat to land in a sitting position. They have to feel the movement before they can learn it…

Speak with all soon,


PS: What novel coaching points do you use use to highlight any technical issues?

Email me at…

The Held Thigh Drill

Hopping 1Like all coaches I have my favoured drills for long jump. I only use specific drills when required in the learning process…






The one below is near the top of my list. I call it the ‘held-thigh’ drill…..

Held Thigh 3From short approaches [6-10 strides] the jumper approaches the take-off board at speed and lifts from the board and gets into the shape seen above in the photograph.

This shape MUST be HELD for as long as possible. The lead thigh [non take-off leg] is driven to the parallel and kept there. The lower leg and foot should not be too far ahead of this lead knee…

The foot is placed in a dorsi-flexed position [toes to shin]…

The take-off leg which has been driven behind is kept for as long as possible. There also has to be extension of the take-off leg immediately on leaving the board…

The upper torso must be kept in an upright position and TENSION developed throughout the flight phase. Many younger jumpers take-off, and immediately lose body tension before the flight phase has even begun…

The jumper starts to come back towards the sand. Then, all he/she does is to drop the the lead leg foot to the sand, land on it and then ‘run-out’ up the sand by bringing the take-off leg through into a running stride….

My training groups do this drill regularly. You can go back to 12-14 strides so they get used to getting into this intial shape with added velocity. I sometimes refer to this drill as the SPLIT shape.

All jumpers need to get into this big split shape BEFORE moving in to their prefered in-flight style [hang/hitch-kick]…

If this initial shape is held for slightly longer a jumper could find an additional 30cm+. This is called the take-off distance…

I encourage my female jumpers to hang but to develop a SPLIT/HANG….

Speak with you soon,


Results from the Long Jumps at the European Indoor Athletics Champs in Prague..

The Indoor Athletics SeasonThe links to the results from the Men’s and Women’s long jump competitions at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Prague are below…





Speak with you soon,


European Indoor Athletic Champs..

DSCF2468Yesterday, I watched the men’s long jump qualifying rounds. There were 24 men attempting to attain the qualifying mark of 8.00m.

What was strange was the organisers insisted on just ONE qualifying pool which meant that the competition was a very long one with jumpers waiting a long time between jumps…

But from a coach’s perspective it was a chance to see approximately 72 consectitive long jumps..[if you viewed it on Eurosport]

What I saw was a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly…

I had chance in the 90 minutes to see 24 jumpers – all of whom had different ways of running a runway, differing in-flight styles and all ‘sorts’ of landing positions.

So, a cup of tea, a few biscuits and then into coach long jump heaven..!!

What was evident not having seen many of the competing jumpers before was that those jumpers who could sprint efficiently more often that not jumped well.

No jumper attained the automatic qualifier of 8.00mt..

The top 8 leading jumps were between 7.97m and 7.79m with Michel Torneus of Denmark leading the pack…

It looks like a very open final, with the top two likely to be Torneus and Tsatoumas of Greece.

One technical aspect I really noticed was the poor landing positions of many of the competing jumpers..

See my previous blogs on landing positions-

Long Jump Qualifying Results..

Speak with you soon,


Developing the Clean and Snatch

DSCF2468A few weeks ago, Tim Benjamin, the former GB 400mt runner [44.56secs] and Olympian came back to Wales, and hosted a strength development workshop at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff concentrating on developing the clean and snatch.

Following a very successful athletics career, Tim has now branched out into the fitness industry and now owns and manages several gymnasiums in the Ascot and Windsor area.

Tim 1

Tim Benjamin 44.56secs

Here is the film of the workshop which highlights the development of the clean and snatch. Tim and his colleague John Pye are working with members of my training group.

All the group have never done any work like this before. We’ve been concentrating on body weight exercises, along with the development of plyometric training and complex training using medicine balls as the resistance….

They are all in the early stages of skilled learning but I felt it was time for them to begin to learn those essential movement patterns that underpin the Olympic lifts. It is my intention to introduce these lifts into next years training programme…

Please excuse the poor sound quality in the first few minutes. This was filmed on a very busy training night at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff, BUT, it does improve…..

Hope you enjoy the content,

Speak with you soon,


NOTE: Below are the links to Tim’s gymnasiums in Ascot and Windsor….

Every rep and set count

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014Every rep and set count..

As a coach you plan your training programmes and training units very carefully. You adhere to the simple training principles of overload, adaptation progression and specificity. You know where you going and relay those thoughts to your training group. You have a clear pathway. You assume that everyone involved is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ – or are they?

You present yourself at training 3 to 4 times a week. You explain and rationalise the training unit to be done that evening and how it fits in with the overall training programme.

You check for understanding. You have ensured that ALL the group know why they are doing a particular set of reps and sets. You are ready to go…..

BUT, some of the group still don’t understand that EVERY rep and set count. Vast coaching experience has governed and rationalised the number of sets, the number of repetitions and the recoveries between sets and reps I give to my training groups….

I’ve coached for a long time and still have athletes in my training groups who DON’T understand that every rep and set count.

  • They are the group members who always ask even before the warm up ‘What is the session this evening’…
  • They are the group members who always ask ‘how many are we doing’ – then roll their eyes or exhale explosively when told a number that doesn’t agree with them…
  • They are the group members who always slow down 10-15mts out from the end of a running rep…
  • They are the group members, who in the competitive season don’t understand why they haven’t improved….

I suppose it’s just human nature and some athletes are just built like this.

I ALWAYS mentally grade every member of my training group at the end of every training session. I don’t write it down or tell them..

It’s something I picked up from the old East German philosophy of training. They were assesed on a 6 point task application rating from 0 to 6.

0 being trained poorly, to 6 which meant that they trained incredibly well with great mental and physical application…

But, if an athlete in my group continually gets low gradings at many training sessions I do have a quiet word with them…!!!

Any thoughts?

email me at:

Speak with you soon,

All the best, Nigel

PS: Working hard on my film with Tim Benjamin on the teaching of the ‘snatch and clean’. It will be about 15 minutes long. Should be ready next week.

Strength Development Workshop [1]

PracticeBelow is the introductory video from the Strength Development Workshop held at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff on Friday February 13th 2015.


A more detailed video, showing my training group working with Tim will be on my website soon…

This video will highlight the methodical development of both the ‘clean and snatch’…..

Speak with you soon,

All the best,




Fouling in Long Jump

NewsletterFouling in Long Jump is a source of great frustration for both coach and jumper. I regularly get emails from coaches asking me what can be done to ensure that their jumpers cut down on foul jumps.

It’s a problem the whole world over. Jumpers will foul and will continue to do so.

That’s why the approach run is so important. I’ve dealt with this in previous posts…[see link below]

Let’s assume that the jumper has arrived at the board ‘safely’ and with no great loss of horizontal velocity…..

I work a lot on the the placement of the take-off leg on to the board – TOUCHDOWN….

I want them to ‘firm the take-off leg’ prior to its making contact with the board. The can’t wait until the foot has landed – it’s way too late, and there will a flexing behind the knee and a lowering of the mid-point resulting in a low trajectory/flight path….

This tightening up of the leg muscaluture must be initiated at the apex of the last stride to the board. If the whole leg is firmed up, it will, up to a point, resist some of the forces acting downwards on to the board.

IMPORTANT: The take-off foot must be placed in front of the mid-point [see photograph below]. At touchdown, the placing of the foot on to the board creates a braking effect and stops the lower torso from moving forward BUT the upper body keeps on moving forwards. Failure to place the take-off leg/foot in front of the mid-point will result in the creation of unwanted forward rotation.

last stride to board

The Last Stride to the Board. Mid-Point ‘behind’ take-off foot.


Also, jumpers tend to be rather lazy at touchdown, One of the major reasoms why they marginally foul is that they don’t push and pull…

They must, just prior to touchdown and after pushing their foot down, to pull the foot backwards  – the ankle back sweep. This is a skill, but a very important one and must be practiced and practiced until it become second nature to the jumper.

It’s all about the timing in the placement of the take-off foot on to the board. They have to be very active and not just run through. They have to understand and think about it….

Speak with you soon,



Coaching in a ‘bubble’…PLUS Coaching Update

I coach out of the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff. See the photo below…

NIAC 2015What you see in the photo above is a competition BUT even on a normal training evening it gets this crowded and leads to problems. With the cold weather at the moment everyone wants to train indoors.

One of the major problems are the ‘hundreds’ of middle distance athletes using the 200mt track. It’s like a scene from Ben Hur..!!

If you coach outdoors [and many coaches and their groups do] you can coach without distraction. But indoors you are ‘cheek to jowl’ with other coaches and their groups. You really have to step up to the plate because of this [tongue in cheek]….

Training plans written up, best kit on etc….!!!

Some coaches are not comfortable with this type of coaching scenario and are somewhat inhibited.

My training area can be seen above – just by the sandpit at the bottom. I have a 6 lane entry into a huge sandpit which really helps with my jumpers who are at different stages on the skilled development learning curve…..

What are my training group up to at the moment?…….

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