Complex Training [2]

Coaching Junior AthletesThis is a short video showing my training group performing TWO complex pairings. They have only been working on combining resistance exercises with complementary plyometric exercises for two weeks. It’s not perfect yet…!!

But in a very short time they will improve and I can then refine and amend the exercises and play around with loadings and reps…

In time, the medicine ball will be replaced with a barbell and weights but not until they understand the concepts and rationale behind combining TWO different strength regimes.

For more information on Complex Training click on the following links….

Speak with you soon,



Complex Training

Complex Manual Cover PageI’ve written extensively about the virtues of including complex training in the training programme. It’s something I’ve been including in my programmes for many years.

Simply, it’s a combination of resistance exercises and plyometric exercises…

Let me place it into a working, practical example.

Our training group has just completed their first 6 week block of training and are now entering their next 6 week block to take them up to the end of the year. Every Monday we have been doing plyometric work working on 6 exercises with a total of approximately 175 low to medium contacts…

They were:-

  • 4 x dynamic vertical rebounds over 10 SAQ hurdles
  • 10 x step down to dynamic vertical rebound to freeze
  • 10 x step down to rebound to 2nd platform
  • 10 x jump up to platform. …step down to freeze
  • 10 x step down to rebound over two hurdles

NOTE: There were subtle variations in ‘sets and reps’ as the weeks progressed but this was the general structure.

On a Thursday we used medicine balls as our resistance [4kg – 10kg]. We had a 10 exercise routine where we did a combination of lunges, step-ups, overhead squats, paused jump squat, lateral side jumps, double and single legged bounding over 20mts using a plyo strip and more, with the medicine ball as the resistance. The medicine ball inclusion is a pre-cursor to using bars and weights [but not yet]. Some of the group are not that experienced yet.

So, in order to free up some of Monday’s training unit to include more technical and skill development we are now going to re-structure Thursdays session to include a combination of plyometric and resistance exercises. We started last evening [Nov 12th] and worked together to develop a 6 exercise combination of one resistance exercise + a plyometric exercise. Next week we shall include these 6 complex pairings into the programme….

I shall film the results and post it on the website as soon as possible…

Speak with you soon,



Stride to Hang….

CH2Very recently I had a query from a fellow coach asking how would you transition from a stride to hang….

A STRIDE JUMP is a very simple flight movement pattern to learn. The jumper takes off and holds a wide split position in the air for as long as possible. On the descent to the sand the jumper dynamically brings the extended take-off leg to the front to join the free-leg which is being held up with the thigh parallel to the sand. From this position the jumper is able to land effectively….

I call this the SPLIT – PULL….[with the split position held strongly with good body tension throughout].


The Stride Jump

A Stride Jump Take-Off


To transition from this initial wide split is quite simple – but not easy. It does need a lot of coaching. After the free thigh has driven to the parallel, it has to remain in this position until the vertical impulse has reached it’s apex and gravity begins to take a part. The jumper then drops the thigh and allows his non-take-off leg to drop under and slightly behind the hips thus creating a long thin shape in the air. This long shape with the arms and legs as far from the centre of mass as is possible creates a moment of inertia. This has the effect of slowing down unwanted rotation. The longer and thinner this shape at the flight apex is the better.


Attaining that long, thin shape at the apex


This does take time and the timing of the ‘thigh drop down’ is crucial as is the timing of the arms. You could use a 10cm flat, take-off platform to give some extra flight time in order to practice the movement pattern. I get youngsters to land in the sand in a low squat. It’s not a landing drill but a shaping drill [see photo above]…

What you are now coaching is a STRIDE – HANG which I favour. It ensures that the take-off is dynamic, and the jumper has placed himself into a wide split position at take-off thus maximising vertical lift. From then on the timing of attaining that long thin shape is crucial but once timed correctly becomes very effective…

Speak with you soon,


Interview with Willie Banks [3]

WILLIE BANKS 2This is the 3rd and last of a series of questions I asked Willie Banks – former USA Triple Jumper [if you scroll down you’ll find parts 1 and 2]


Q8: What were your strengths within the phases of the whole jump – including the runway?

Anyone who has studied the triple jump and reviewed my jumps will tell you that the best part of my jump was the “jump phase”. I used to agree until I started coaching high school kids. I realized that I was able to get an enormous jump phase (close to 6 meters) because of my takeoff. So, for me the best part of my jump is the takeoff. Continue reading

Interview with Willie Banks [Part 1]

Coaching Junior AthletesSome of the younger athletics generation might ask Willie who?

Willie Banks was the USA triple jumper who brought the ‘clapping’ into field events. He was always the consummate showman. He was a member of the 1980, 1984, and 1988 Olympic teams. Banks will always be remembered as one of the most flamboyant athletes to compete in track and field. He is the originator of the now common hand clapping that takes place during many track and field events. Continue reading

Basic Plyometrics

Platform to Platform

Platform to Platform

I’ve been including Plyometrics in my training programmes for as long as I can remember. It’s not a stand alone strength regime but is highly specific and is complimented with a traditional weight training programme.

Complex training is a blend of plyometric exercises and traditional weight training exercises OR in the early stages then use of med balls as the resistance can be used…[more about this is a follow up blog].

I include plyometrics because it helps develop that explosive and reactive strength required by jumpers.

Below is a link to a short film clip of my training group working plyometrically…

This is only the 3rd week into the programme so platforms and hurdles are low and the emphasis is on the explosiveness from the floor and the skilled technical development of each exercise – some plyo exercises demand high levels of skill….

Once they are able to perform this basic plyometric programme only then do I increase the intensity.

I limit the number of contacts to approx. 150 per training unit. As the winter progresses the number of contacts will increase slightly but never above 200 contacts.

Correct technique is a MUST. Flat-footed landings, limited leg flexion behind the knee and the upper torso kept in an upright position and the concept of ‘load it -use it’. The time spent on the ground is kept to a minimum.

WARNING: The higher the box/platform will increase the time spend on the floor – thus negating the plyometric effect – the all important stretch-shorten reflex.

Notice in the film that all my group are FREEZING the end movement. Thus they are working, concentrically, eccentrically and isometrically. More to come on this topic….

Speak with soon,


Winter training has started…

Two weeks have gone. 14+ hours in the bank…

After Training

This was the taken at the end of our Thursday session. We did body weight circuits plus a 400/300 and 200….


But they recovered..

At the moment a typical week is – Plyometrics and Speed on Monday/Body weight circuits and longer runs on Thursday and a 3 hour technical session on Saturday mornings….

Speak with you soon,



Coaching Junior AthletesWhen you coach older, more experienced athletes you don’t see a parent from one year to the next. But when you coach young athletes in the age group 14-17 you see them all the time.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Without this vital support group, the coaches task would be made a lot harder. I had a daughter who competed, and I spent countless hours travelling to competitions, squads and training. I understand the commitment that these parents give for large periods of the year. Time that could be spend more profitably elsewhere..

I encourage and involve my ‘parents’ in the training regime – but up to a point. We do a few house rules…

When I coach they move to the stand and can observe. My current group of parents have developed into quite a little social group having observed them when I have time between reps, drills and skills. Some of the parents use the time to train. Two of the Mum’s go jogging so it’s time well spent….

Might find a veteran athlete amongst them…

It’s wise to find out a little more about each parent. They might have a skillset that could prove useful in the coaching set up. One of the parents is a former Head of Physical Education, so this winter will hopefully oversee his daughters weights programme…thus saving me valuable time.

At the end of the session they come down to the training arena and we talk for 15 minutes. It gives me time to offer feedback or glean valuable information about a myriad of things…

This was the group last evening at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff..

A motely crew…!! [just joking]




Winter training begins….

12Last evening at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff my training group began their winter training programme. Three coach contact training units in a typical 7 day micro-cycle..


By the end of the year all the group will have attended 38 training units amounting to approximately 76+ hours of training.

For the first six weeks we will be concentrating on developing general fitness before moving on to specific fitness. This is the phase where we all ‘share the pain’.

Plyometrics, body weight circuit sessions, medicine ball sessions, hill running and over-distance running. These elements will dictate the first 18 training units..

We won’t negelct the technical development and a 3 hour session on a Saturday morning will cater for this.

Follow my groups progress through the winter into 2016 on my website…

Speak with you soon,



Improving that Penultimate Step




  1. The primary goal of the take-off in a long jump should be to maintain horizontal velocity with less than 10% deceleration, while developing enough vertical velocity to take-off at an angle between 18-20 degrees
  2. In the long jump, the centre of mass is lowered slightly [7% deviation for men and 4% for women from sprinting], as the touchdown of the penultimate step is slightly heel first [not on the ball of the foot like top speed sprinting]. The ankle should be at a 90⁰ angle to the shin.
  3. KEY COACHING POINT: This step should be slightly longer, almost flat and pulling with the hamstrings and glutes so that the take-off foot is grounded as soon as possible. Both of the last two steps should be grounded while they are coming back toward the body, not reaching out, which will negate forward velocity.
  4. The last two steps should be quicker than the preceding ones, therefore, an increase in rhythm should occur. The increase in stride frequency occurs as the last step is shortened almost 10% less than the penultimate step.
  5. If executed correctly, the body is slightly lowered on the penultimate and is on the rise [15-25⁰] through the take-off. All this should occur with a goal of less than a 10% loss of horizontal velocity – the average loss is 14%.
  6. An easy tip-off to a poor execution of the last two steps are LOUD foot contacts with the runway. This indicates a braking action instead of maintenance of velocity. Conversely, if the jumper is just running through without getting any conversion of horizontal to vertical, there will be the sound of normal sprinting.
  7. A correct penultimate step will yield a resonant sound, a median between the loud contacts and regular sprinting, followed by a quickened take-off step which sounds more like a regular sprint step.
    The real factor here is the rhythm of the sound of the last two steps.
  8. KEY COACHING POINT: Correct penultimate and take-off steps yield a distinct increase in the speed of the sound of the last two steps. It is this increase in rhythm that a long jumper must have in order to accommodate the correct take-off mechanics. With no increase in rhythm in the last two steps, a correct take-off is virtually impossible.


James Hay 1988/Bob Myers 1989/E Nixdorf and P Bruggemann 1988…

Speak with you all soon,