Winter Training 2015-2016 [1]

What does the coach see?With just 5 weeks left of the competitive season my thoughts are now focusing on winter preparation through to 2016.

Loads of questions and self-reflection:

Must ask myself if the current training programme was successful. All my training group established personal best performances, many gained international representation..

BUT was it because of me or in spite of me. Some serious self-reflection to come….!!

Who do I want to coach this winter. Now this is a big question…

I never assume that athletes who I coach want to be coached by me next year – so I ask them.

What do I include in my programme?

I have a huge choice – plyometrics, complex training, body weight circuits, over-distance work, medicine balls, weighted vest, traditional weight training, Olympic lifting etc….What do I exclude because of time constraints?

So a lot of planning to be done in the next few months even though some of my training group are still competing at a high level right up to last weekend in August.

Had a problem this week: One of my female long jumpers has been fouling a lot, but at the same time jumping well when she hits the board. So we decided at this late stage of the season to get rid of the old approach and construct a new one. We have 5 weeks to the AAA U17 Championships in Bedford. Five weeks to get her ready. Will this drastic change work? I hope so – it’s a chance we have to take.

We’ve gone from 16 strides to 14 [less room for error] – well that’s the theory. Second session tomorrow and going to work on her first 4 strides. Get this right and the rest of the runway will not be as compromised…

Will let you know how she gets on..

Speak with you soon,



Long Jump Coaching Points

NewsletterBelow are a series of photographs of one of my female jumpers jumping out to 5.29m at a recent competition.


Lauryn 1

Photo 1: Height from board with good extended take-off leg extension…

Lauryn 2

Photo 2: The ‘hang’ shape with upright torso, head OK, arms behind body…

Lauryn 5

The ‘flight’ phase. Good position at apex with which to prepare to land. Must HOLD ON to the flight phase….

They say a picture tells a thousand words. This series of 3 photographs tell me a lot. We have worked very hard this winter and previous winters on the body positioning at take-off. This TOUCHDOWN element on to the take-off board is something that the jumper must understand. A basic understanding of simple biomechanics is paramount for every jumper I coach….

Photo 1: A good demonstration of take-off leg extension. The jumper must place that take-off foot and leg down firmly on to the body with ‘tension’ to limit any unwanted lowering of the centre of mass. On lifting from the board the jumper must push the board behind her – the ankle sweep back. The free thigh is driven to the parallel and the arms which contribute approximately 30% to the vertical impulse have to be co-ordinated…especially the arm on the take-off leg side [the contra-lateral arm] which contributes approximately 25% of the vertical impulse…

Photo 2: She has now reached the apex of the flight phase and her positioning of ‘body parts’ is quite good. No extreme arching of the back [just a slight hollowing] with the head upright and eyes looking forward. The arms are behind the body waiting for the legs to initiate the leg chute. Both legs are below  and slightly behind the hips. They are in a short levered position with the heels quite near the backside. They have to be bent because short levers are quick levers. The arms MUST remain in position slightly behind the body until the jumper has brought the legs from the back to the front in preparation to land..

Photo 3: This is a good shot and illustrates the coaching points made above. Young jumpers want to land too soon..

They have to be encouraged to go ‘along for the ride’ in the flight phase. Tension must be maintained and the flight phase extended for as long as possible. The shape at the apex of the jump must be fixed and strong. My only criticism is the left leg is ‘dragging’ behind which could possible compromise the landing position – timing is everything on the descent from the high point to the sand…

This a great photo of Greg Rutherford ‘going along for the ride’….

Going along for the ride..

Speak with you soon,


Being a LEAD COACH to a multi-eventer..[Part1]

PracticeCoaching combined events is difficult especially if your athletes are in full time education. To try to fit in all the events into a typical 7 day training cycle is hard and sometimes impossible if you are not super-organized.

When athletes are in the younger age groupings, it is possible when a typical pentathlon consists of a long jump, a high jump, a hurdles race, a shot put and a distance run..

But when they move up the age groups and have to include javelin, more throwing events and pole vault then the difficulties arise…

It is easier to coach female heptathletes than male decathletes. Fewer events, with just the addition of the 200mts and javelin for females.

Two of my training group are competing in the AAA’s U17 heptathlon in August. Both have to include the javelin in their programme..

It is rare for a combined events coach to be able to offer ‘every’ event to a level which enables the athlete to compete successfully. So what do you do?

You invite yourself to other specialist coaches training sessions. I did this last evening when I took 3 athletes to a specialist javelin training session in Swansea.

You need all your multi-eventers to develop a sound technical model in all of the events they compete in. Although they are not event specialists per se, they still have to develop the specific event movement patterns that will enable them to run, jump and throw efficiently.

They found the javelin session very demanding but they all adapted and knuckled down. They were surrounded by more experienced throwers. They were able to observe, and take part with the javelin throwers warming up with medicine balls utilizing a ‘throwing wall’…

They found this demanding and sometimes quite scary, especially when a 4kg med ball was rebounding very quickly from the throwing wall.

Certain athletes learn more efficiently by watching..[I know my training group did].

Through the course of the 2 hour session they were immersed in  ‘javelin speak’..

They were filmed throwing, and then able to see themselves throwing via a laptop screen. They were able to see the simple things they were doing wrongly. They all received feedback and explanation to take away with them.

In the coming weeks we will work together on specific technical issues and then ask to be invited to another training session.

In part 2 I shall deal with training the young combined eventer..

Speak with soon,


Behind the scenes as a coach…

NewsletterIt doesn’t matter how long you’ve coached, there is nothing more exhilarating than seeing your training group perform well.

Yesterday I had 9 athletes involved in the National Age Group Championships in Cardiff. Because the whole U17 programme was contained within one day, it did present logistical problems. Many of my group were contesting several events so I had to be in many places at once…!

The weather was hot and sunny and for the first few hours I acquitted  myself well BUT then problems arose. Disaster in the hurdles – tears, clash of events…athletes rushing from event to event/changes of footwear, self-doubt, fouls at the board, niggling injuries, anxious parents…and so it went on.

Started to feel the heat in more ways than one. But can’t be seen to be panicking!

Every athlete needed different types and forms of feedback. Really tested my 40+ years of coaching especially when I had 5 girls competing at the same time in the same event.

By the end of the day I had run and jumped every repetition with them…I was totally exhausted. Couldn’t even get to the toilet or eat or drink. Couldn’t sleep last night – running every event and athlete through my head..

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m sure I speak for ALL coaches on competition days..

It’s tough being an athlete but even harder being a coach..

Now on to the next competition…


PS: it was worth it because the training group won 5 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 bronze medals plus 6 personal best performances…

The Long Jump Landing Position

Nigel Lewis Dec 2014This short 2 minute video clip clearly illustrates the long jump landing position. Just take a look at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions in the Women’s Long Jump at the recent New York Diamond League Meeting.

Observe carefully  the landing positions of each of the jumpers…

Shara Proctor[GB] was 3rd with 6.72m; Tianna Bartoletta [USA] was 2nd with 6.89m and 1st with 6.92m was Christabel Nettey [Can] with 6.92m.

What I noticed was that Nettey was beginning to prepare for her landing just after the apex of her jump [the high point]whilst the other two left it a lot later in preparing to land. Notice that Nettey  raised her thighs and knees that high that they appeared ABOVE the parabola [flight path]. She was then able to decend and hold this position thus ensuring her heels cut the sand and not DROPPING into the sand [I call this a splash landing]…

I’m sure that in due course Nettey will go beyond 7mts because of her earlier preparation for landing….

I encourage ALL my jumpers to prepare for landing slightly earlier rather than decending from the apex and leaving it too late. We use platforms to practice this thus ensuring that they have enough height….

Speak with you all soon,

All the best,


The Landing Position

PracticeThe landing position on entering the sand is still a big concern to me. I’ve been observing hundreds of long jumpers these past few weeks and I’m yet to see a decent landing.

But remember, this landing position is determined by what precedes it…

The approach run/the touchdown and the flight phase…

Too often the younger, less experienced jumper has made simple, basic errors in these phases…

Too long/too short/Too fast/too slow/wrong body angle at touchdown/no dynamic at take-off etc, etc…..

There are a myriad of reasons why the landing position is poor. A decent landing position can add 30cms to a jump….

That’s why ALL aspects of the whole jump have to be worked on.

Read previous blog on landing..

As a coach you need to really understand the mechanics that govern the decent to the sand. Assume the jumper has run in well, taken- off dynamically and held on to the flight phase – so far, so good.

The arms are kept above the head and slightly behind the shoulders. The head is up with eyes focussed on a point ahead.

The jumper now brings the two bent legs from behind the hips very quickly as short, fast levers. The arms ARE NOT required yet until the legs have come from behind to the front. The jumper must attempt to get into a ‘pike shape’…

Landing Position

Only when the legs have come through to the front does the jumper drive the chest to the thighs and the arms to almost touch the toes….

Landing 11

This landing position has to be practiced. I use a very low platform [10cms] to practice landings. We can do upwards of 20 such landings in a technical session…

Landing 3

 All the best,

Speak with you soon,


Training during the competition season

Coaching Junior AthletesTraining during the competition season….6 weeks into our competitive season. Huge clashes with external examinations. Loads of stress within the group BUT we have to continue to train as well as we can. Just have to be a little bit more organized. Can’t believe the levels of time management skills within the group…!!

What are we doing this evening [Thursday June 4th]. Last evening some of the group competed in an Open Sprints Competition. Races seeded on times not age groups. It worked well…

Several personal best performances from those members of the group who chose to compete…

The group are not competing this weekend, so we’ve time to fit in several key technical elements. We trained on Monday, Thursday [tonight] and will train this coming Saturday morning…

Tonight we are doing a Med Ball Circuit for upper body and a plyometric element to help develop eccentric strength in the lower torso PLUS a set of longer runs, probably 4 x 150mts…

On Saturday we can devote more time to the technical aspects. Because some of the group are combined eventers it will allow me valuable time to take a look at several technical issues in 2/3 events..

The hurdlers will do 5 x 8 hurdles with a 5 minute recovery between repetitions..

The long jumpers will work on those all important 6 strides to the board..

The shot putters will work on ‘snapping’ the leg under the hip in the middle of the circle…

The high jumpers will work on ‘smoothing’ out the approach run to the bar along with that lean in….

Just started development work on the javelin.

Two of the group are preparing for their first heptathlon and have to add a 200mts and javelin to their repertoire of technical events…

And so it goes on, and on….

Speak with you soon,


What to eat BEFORE training

Coaching Junior AthletesRecently I’ve been very concerned at the ‘physical state’ some of the group turn up for training in. I’m not satisfied they know what to eat before training.

What exactly do I mean?

We are training hard at the moment. The competitive season is in full swing but we still have to train hard. A lot of the group are also attempting to manage a very difficult revision and examination period as well as train and compete..

Some are eating badly and indeed some are skipping meals. They are training hard but fuel stores have dropped to a minimum by the time we are half-way through the session some of the group are looking very tired and on some occasions have to drop out of the session.

This prompted me to seek expert advice from a lot of reliable sources.

Below are a just a few suggestions on what they could eat BEFORE they attend a training session. I also gave the group [and their parents] some ideas of what to eat and drink post-training..[next blog]


  • 2 hours before..[2 x wholemeal toast or plain bread with honey. I suggest MANUKA honey with BURGEN bread which contains calcium, soya and linseed…
  • Half an hour before….half a banana which contains potassium and is all carbohydrate…


  • Whole Wheat Toast with Sliced Banana and Cinnamon…
  • Greek Yoghurt and Trail Mix…
  • Smoothies…
  • Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit…
  • Apple Wedges with Almond Butter…

Of course, there are hundreds of different foods and combinations to eat before you train. But it is so important that you encourage your athletes to ‘fuel up’ correctly before they train…

I shall continue to monitor my training group throughout the summer months.

Speak with you soon,


Jumps Training: Introduction of some new Skills and Drills

NewsletterThis short video of my training group was taken on a Monday training evening. All the group had competed over the weekend….




We are in our summer competition maintenance training phase so we tend to have the ‘hard’ session early week and the technical session 2 days prior to the next competition.

What you see is a warm up, an introductory speed session followed by a plyometric segement. We are developing a new drill, so what you observe is their first attempt at a series of new movement patterns.

We developed the drill plus it’s refinements as we went along. When you devise new drills you’re never quite sure how they will look when first practiced. We will include elements of this drill throughout the summer competitive season…

I could have edited out some of the ‘mistakes’ but chose not to….!!

Before each ‘shot’ there was an element of teaching before we filmed for real….

NOTE: You will notice that some group members adapted very well, whilst others will take another few sessions before they ‘get it’…..

I like to make them think during a session..

Speak with you soon,