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,


Hill Accelerations

What does the coach see?I’ve always been a huge fan of using hills and stadium steps to help develop explosive power. Every athlete has a hill near their home and most stadiums have steps. No cost involved – but very effective. This is an article I found recently by top USA based coach Lee Taft, and gives many good reasons why you should include hill work in your training programmes…


I shall be including hills and stadium steps in my training programmes for 2015-2016 [as I always do]….

1. Hill accelerations, from a mechanical aspect, when running up a moderate hill the athlete  must automatically drive the knee out (it actually forces greater hip flexion due to the horizontal lean) in order to clear the foot from hitting the toe into the ground. This natural aggressive hip flexion/knee drive increases the power of the force into the ground off the push off leg. More force is put into the ground due to the action reaction forces caused by the aggressive knee drive. Because gravity is constantly working on the athlete the force being put into the ground must consistently be aggressive to keep the center of mass moving – it isn’t like flat ground running where once acceleration is over sprinting begins.
2. Hill accelerations limit the deceleration that must occur after each run. The athlete almost stops immediately when they stop producing force. In flat ground acceleration the athlete must actively work to “put the brakes on”. The fact the athlete doesn’t have to decelerate after each rep saves the legs and keeps the focus purely on acceleration.
3. Arm action almost automatically becomes more involved and cleaner when accelerating up hill. The fact the athlete must constantly work hard to produce force in order to keep the mass moving the arms get loads of repetitions. The driving forces produced by the arm are seen through the longer leg actions which produces more force. If the arms are short in the swing phase the leg action becomes shorter to coordinate the action with the arms. When flat land training the acceleration phase is very short for beginner due to the fact they get out of acceleration so quickly. When training acceleration on hills they can work on the acceleration phase the entire repetition, therefore getting more arm action repetitions.
4. Because hill work is very taxing on the nervous system programming is very simple. Once you see the athlete begin to reach the prescribed distance much slower than in previous reps you know he or she is getting fatigued. Once the fatigue factor shows up the reps will become much less effective so it is time to end the hill acceleration session. A great way to get as much bang for your buck out of programming is to perform less reps per set and add more sets. For example; rather than performing 2 sets of 6 reps where you would have less rest between the reps than the sets you would perform 4 sets of 3 reps. This allows for great effort and execution of the 3 reps followed by an adequate recovery where ATP can be replenished more-so than in the 2 sets of 6 rep scheme.
5. Hill acceleration training is a form of resisted training. The other forms such as sled, tubing, parachutes, or manual all have benefit yet they disturb the one factor that I personally feel is vital; they interrupt the natural kinesthetic nature of pure running. A band or harness tethered to your body is not as consistent with natural running. A harness attached around the shoulders might cause greater transverse rotation to the shoulders. A tubing around the belt line might cause more flexion than what is consistent with acceleration, a parachute might cause random shifts in the frontal plane due to wind pushing the chute off course. All of these disturbances can have benefits if you know what you are looking for, but when you want to improve the 3 things I mentioned above (technique, horse power, recover) the un-tethered approach might be best most of the time. Don’t get me wrong. I use resisted training frequently- but I always know why and what the results will be.
Hill acceleration training is a fantastic way to develop explosive power for short bursts of speed.
NOTE: Don’t go mad on the really steep hills. When technique has to adjust too much to account for the steepness of the hill you might have gone too far. Keep it so the athlete can accelerate with great technique.

Acknowledgements: Lee Taft [USA Speed Coach 2015]

Speak with you all soon,


One season ends – another begins….!

DSCF2468One season ends – another begins….! The final competition was last weekend in Bedford….now a whole month off. No training, no travelling JUST PLANNING…

This winter, our training group will have two new female members – I like to freshen things up a little. Keeps me motivated…

All the group have had their end of season, one on one ‘interview’ and based on what their individual outcome and performance goals are, only then can I begin to plan….

The whole winter and spring training periods are geared towards our major goals. The England U15/17/20 Combined Events Championships and the AAA Individual Age Group Championships next August 2016 – seems a long way away, but you know as a coach – time flies.

So down to some serious planning…

The training group are now on rest, recovery and recuperation. All back in school so they need some time to settle in and develop a lifestyle routine before meeting up at the National Indoor Athletics Centre, Cardiff on Monday September 28th at 6.00pm…

Just a blank computer screen….

How do you fit in Med ball work, body weight circuits, over distance work, speed development, plyometrics and complex training, weights and technical work and ‘other things’ into a typical 7 day training cycle?

How do the training group fit in valuable and essential training time alongside their very busy lifestyles?

What do I leave out? Can I afford to leave anything out?

Between Monday September 28th and the start of the competitive season there are approximately 30 weeks of training. With 3 coach contact training sessions each lasting approximately two and a half hours, we have roughly 240 hours of coaching time. This excludes the training units they have to do outside coach contact time….!!

So here we go……PLANNING STARTS NOW…..but not until I have several cups of Earl Grey and a few biscuits…..the important things first.

Speak with you all soon,


Greg Rutherford – Champion

12I for one, never doubted that Greg Rutherford would add the World Long Jump title to his impressive CV…


Many thought he wouldn’t. Ye of little faith….!

All the other pretenders fell by the wayside. The USA trio fell apart – possibly due to the fact that they hadn’t the competition experience of Greg.

Also, couldn’t help but notice those commentators who immediately jumped on to the ‘winning bandwagon’…!!!

Read all about the final by clicking on the link below…

Worth a large bet NOW on Greg defending his Olympic Title in Rio next year..

Speak with you all soon,


What makes a perfect heptathlete?

Coaching Junior AthletesWhat makes a perfect heptathlete? This article posted by BBC Sport is a great insight into the world of combined events. Every aspiring combined eventer should read this….



The key points are below….BUT READ THE ARTICLE

  • Mental toughness and phenomenal work ethic
  • Being an excellent high jumper
  • Target your weaker events – up to a point
  • Find a coach you trust
  • Keep the bravado going – and rivals guessing


Speak with you all soon,


World Championships in Beijing

Coaching Junior AthletesReally looking forward to both male and female long jumps at the World Championships in Beijing 2015…

Can Greg Rutherford add the World Title to his Olympic, European and Commonwealth titles?

Going along for the ride..

Will Britteny Reese find some form?

Brittney 1

Take a look at all the news from the IAAF website…

PLUS: Will the Heptathlon and Decathlon be won by a husband and wife?

Speak with you all soon,


Posture on the runway

Coaching Junior AthletesPosture on the runway has a huge bearing on how you jump and how far you jump.

An ‘untidy’ runway will have negative effects on many aspects of the whole jump.

Before I add any horizontal jumpers to my training group I have to be sure that they can ‘run’..

By this, I mean, are they rhythmical, balanced, stable and coordinated?

There are those horizontal jumpers who find it very difficult to run in a straight line. Just stand on the take-off board and watch them running towards you; they can wander everywhere!

Some jumpers impart lateral movements into what is a linear event. Running correctly and being mechanically efficiently is so important, and we work very hard on this aspect.

Lauren 14

Whenever we do any form of quicker runs over distances ranging from 30 to 70mts I always emphasise that must give a lot of thought to ‘how they are running’….

We call them POSTURE RUNS….

I always watch them closely when they do this type of session, and they are aware of this. By doing this type of running drill will increase body position awareness [kinesthesic awareness]  and create positive transfer into the runway and approach to the take-off board.

  • Last evening we concerned ourselves with the posture of the body into the those vital last six strides to the board.

There’s a need to accelerate over the first phase, align the body in the mid part of the approach run then stay tall into the attack to the board in what I call the ‘business end’ of the approach run.

It’s a lot to think about – but absolutely necessary..

It’s a lot more difficult if the jumper has a outward splay of the foot or has a tendency to place one foot in front of the other when running at high speeds…

In these situations, the attention to detail becomes more pronounced, and possibly more specific remedial work needs to be done.

In a typical 16 stride approach run, the margins of error are increased and horizontal jumpers have to concentrate, because as I’ve explained many, many times – the approach run is a complex, serial skill and must be treated as such.

You’ve only to impart an unwanted lateral movement into one of those 16 strides, or sink the hips a few centimetres for problems to arise. The jumper duly arrives at the board and fouls or takes-off behind the board

Typically, a coach will simply say – “move your checkmark back one or one forward” and hopes that by doing this will get their jumper somewhere near, or on the board. They don’t realise that the problem might be one of running inefficiency…

Only consistent practice over the approach run and special emphasis on how they run to the board will result in consistency throughout competition.

OK….you’ve got them to the board -what should happen next? This will be in the next jumps blog…

Speak with you soon,


Triple Jump

Me 2The Triple Jump…

This is a short video clip of one of my female triple jumpers who has only been triple jumping a few months. She has progressed very quickly from a sub 10mts to a respectable 11.42m..

Video clip 1 is real time and video clip 2 is the same jump but in slow-motion….



She needs a lot of work BUT she has developed a sound technical base to work from in a short time. I shall outline in detail her technical training throughout the forthcoming winter months.

Some initial observations….

  1. Running into the hop as opposed to preparing to hop…[this is good because she is also a long jumper and sometimes athletes who do both long and triple get confused with the differing take-off angles]
  2. Well defined triple jump hop throughout the flight phase – ‘good cycling action’…
  3. Strong hop landing to a good step/bound position in the second phase..
  4. Good arm positioning – alternate arm action..

BUT…might change her legs over during the winter so that she is long jumping on the last phase from her dominant leg. I always try this. Sometimes it doesn’t work but at least we’ve explored it…

Speak with you soon,

All the best,



12Communication is key in any ‘National Sporting Governing Body’. But many volunteer coaches don’t think it’s a strong point from their leaders and line managers…

A recent survey from the Havard Business Review has found the most common communication complaints which provide effective leadership…

NOTE: I’ve adapted the findings to reflect our sport of athletics..

  1. Not recognising coach achievements…
  2. Not giving clear directions…
  3. Not having time to meet coaches…
  4. Refusing to talk to subordinates…
  5. Taking credit for others’ ideas…
  6. Not offering constructive criticism…
  7. Not knowing coaches names…
  8. Refusing to talk to coaches on the phone…
  9. Not asking about coaches lives outside work…

NOTE: These are not my views, but a very interesting and thoughful piece of research..

All the best,