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Jumps Blog: 2012 Q&A Highlights

  • Posted: 04.11.2013
  • Author: Alan Richardson (UKA)
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Question 1- Briefly outline your own athletic background

Aston Moore (AM)-16.86(17.02w) TJ, 7.76 LJ. Bronze in Commonwealth twice 1978 and 1982, plus bronze at European Indoors 16.73-Coached by Kevin Reeve and himself-worked with cousin Eric McCalla

Glyn Williams (GW)-GB international, numerous Welsh Titles, Commonwealth games 7.65pb, training partner to Olympic Champion Lynn Davies-coached by Ron Pickering, also played on the win for Welsh Schools-had to choose Rugby or Athletics!

Question 2- Why did you take up coaching jumps?

AM-Initially to support Eric Mccalla (17.00pb), Kevin Reeve took a break, Aston coached Eric and wanted to help out at Birchfield Coached Ashia Hansen to World Indoor title and World Indoor Record, more recently Phillips Idowu to World Outdoor Gold, also coach to Kelly Southerton

GW-Started as a teacher/coach working in school for many years. Coached Doug Turner a sprinter to International standard and Gable Garenamotse to Commonwealth silver pb 8.27 Botswana Record, made Olympics and World Champs Finals.

Question 3- What would you consider being your strengths as a coach?

AM-Planning, do a lot of planning, like to have a structure. Being able to simplify coaching technology into words that most athletes can understand. Having a coach’s eye-no need to wait for the DVD or biomechanics information-I know what to do as soon as I see it.

GW-Improvisation, being intuitive about the event. Communication, being a teacher/coach, Gwyn feels he can related to all ages and genders. Commitment-sometimes more than the athletes! Understanding people;

Question 4- What key qualities would you look for in an athlete who wants to become an excellent/elite long or triple jumper?

AM-Obvious ability to jump (TJ), rebound and reactive ability as a key component; must have the right attitude to training, zero tolerance to not training! Nathan Douglas good example

GW-Committed, enthusiastic; loyalty; ability to run fast, ‘natural’ jump ability Gable could jump 8.22 from one foot and 8.27 from the other! ‘Coach the person then the event’

Peter Stanley added being competitive

Question 5- Do you feel a gender difference would have affected your answer in Question 4?

AM-GW No difference


Question 6- What do you see as the key components in run-up and how might you develop them?

AM-Controlled acceleration, just to explain it (but not done as a practice) split into 3 phases, accel, max speed, attack. First 8 strides need to be accurate (6 for female), no check mark but coaches eye to judge start and rhythm thereafter.

GW- End game no check marks, start game check at 2 and 4 strides, work done on and off the track, segments 0-10m, 10m-20m etc-crucially then take the marks away.

Question 7- Could you please define what you see as the key components of technique in LJ and TJ excluding the runway?

AM-Landing mechanics key to TJ; out and back active foot contact, not worried too much about parallel thigh; foot back, knee going forward

GW-Take off strides crucial, no block at take-off, smooth acceleration of the free leg forwards and upwards

Question 8-What part does weight training play in your training programme; how often would you do it?

AM-Three times for men, twice for women, main exercises squat, clean, snatch, step-up; focus on speed of the lift every time

GW-As Aston but no female differential; Hell raise also, hang cleans

Question 9- Could you please define what you call plyometric training and give us an insight into the degree and regularity of this form of training for your elite athlete?

AM-For me plyometric training is any activity that is jump related i.e. utilises the SSC cycle. To be more specific – it needs to have a ground contact time of more than 100ms but probably less than 250ms. This definition cuts out sprinting and dynamic strength training - where athlete jumps with a weight - as plyometric activities. Working in this way allows me to have a scale or a continuum for plyometric activities which can go from easy to hard, sub-maximal to maximal or general to specific (related to its affect on the body and performance). Under the normal scheduling of training, it is difficult to programme in more than 2 plyometric training sessions in any given 7 day period. In the early preparation period plyometric activities would be easy, sub-maximal and general and as the athlete approach competition readiness they will become more difficult, maximal and very specific.

GW-Isometric Training -“The muscle is stretched (Eccentric ie working and lengthening) before it contracts (concentric ie working and shortening).I use the phrase “load then explode” to the athletes. Gable’s training schedule was controlled by geographical location, available facilities and available time. Whilst he was at UWIC, facilities and equipment were readily available, but when he returned to Botswana in 2005 things changed greatly. A lot of lateral thinking was required as equipment was not available. The workable programme devised was 25 weeks (5 blocks of 5 weeks), then into competition phase. Jumping, bounding / plyo were continuous over this period once every week with sessions developing and progressing. I visited Botswana in Dec 2006 to see firsthand what was available and what the constraints and limitations were. There were no hurdles, no plyo boxes and no sand in the pit -quite ironic given that his base was on the eastern side of the Kalahari desert. There were 10 steps in the stand but they were too narrow to use. The podium platform was termite ridden. I considered using dropping down from the track retaining wall of 75cm. but this was considered too high a drop. As always there was a need to improvise.

Sessions consisted of

a) Squat jumps / tuck jumps / side to side jumps / ankle flexion only jumps

b) Giant bounds 1 for length / distance over 20m and 30m 2) speed bounding over 30m/ 40m

c) Standing long jumps 1 ) for distance 3-4-5 jumps 2) for speed 4-5-6 jumps

d) Standing triple jump ( Gable had ongoing problems with knee injuries)

e) Skipping high take-offs 1) both legs over 40m 2) reps accentuating left leg take-offs every 4th stride. 3) sets of 3 reps only ----going “lower / higher / highest “off left leg only (his take-off leg) with increasing speed from rep to rep.

Question 10-Could you please give details of what you would do a week before a major championship.

AM/GW-Work back from competition, some have one days rest, some two, depends on the athlete, some train lightly on the day, activation the day before(GW) GW no weights in the week before, AM-included early in the week. No full on plyometrics.

Question 11- What pattern of competitions do you employ to reach a peak at an outdoor major championship?

AM-There is no hard and fast rules about this, we have to be adaptable, but I find that most athletes can reach a competitive peak within 5 and 7 competitions. I try not to group more than 2 competitions in any 10 day period and if I have to, I ensure that there is plenty of recovery between that and the next competition. The objective of the competition before the peak has one of two objectives – we either need to achieve a qualifying mark and in this case we are aiming to reach a peak before the majors, or we are preparing the athlete for technical mastery in the major competition because we already have the qualifying mark.

Question 12-What field tests do you employ as indicators of progress in Long/Triple jump-Do you test your athletes on a regular basis.

AM-The real test for the athlete is the competition itself but over the years I have come to rely on the results I see in certain speed and power activities which seem to suggest improved performances. These are: 40m sprint from standing start, standing 4 hops and jump (both legs), standing 4 steps and jump, standing long jump, running 20m hops and step – counted and timed. On average I test every 4 or 5 weeks (that’s the length of my training cycles)

GW-Testing regularly from the beginning of the annual cycle (every 5 week block) is the only true measure of whether the training programme is working. Whilst Gable was in University in Cardiff equipment was available but when he returned to Botswana old style testing was the only option ie stopwatch and tape measure

Eg flying runs with decreasing run-on

30m build –up then timed 30m or 40m

20m build -up then timed 30m or 40m

10m buil40md-up then timed 30m or 40m

Standing start timed over 30m or 40m

NB Gable’s 100m time came down from 10.60 to 10.21 over a 5yr period. He was 2nd in Botswana Champs in 2009 (10.31).

Timed giant bounds standing start over 40m

5 standing long jumps for distance.


Question 13- Could you both speak about the motivation and incentive for your athlete(s) to succeed at elite level, if this is conditioned by background/environment please give some details.

AM-The majority of the athlete I work with in the first instance are motivated by the need to be the best they can be and money doesn’t come into it. However, as they begin to achieve some of their competitive objectives, to maintain that ability, they then need to have some sort of financial structure supporting them. At the top of the tree athletes tread a fine line of doing what is necessary to bring in an income and making sure they are ready to compete at the highest level. As part of the work I do with the athlete I work with, I try to get them to understand that if they compete well in the championships there will always be a place for them in the money meets and so the focus should always be to be ready for the majors. I think that if you come from a background of lack, a thousand pound will seems like money that shouldn’t be missed.

GW-Gable’s gifts were / he had a natural ability to jump, he had speed, he was explosive, he was a good competitor and got even better as time went by and success came along. He lived in 2 worlds, a job with low wages in Botswana; he had a wife and child, no lottery money, no sponsor, no sports equipment contract. His income on the Grand Prix circuit gave him an opportunity to improve his life back home where in 2006 50% of the population lived on less than £1.50 per day. He never complained and there was no point in me thinking “ If only he had stayed in the UK with all that UKA has on offer” I just had to adjust every thing to suit his reality in Botswana. We were very compatible and we trusted and believed in each other. I made the effort to get to know his world, his reality. Developing nations think differently from wealthy western nations. He was voted Botswana Sports Person of the Year for all Sports, men and women in 2006 and Sports Man of the Year for all Sports in 2009. Quite simply he was a role model for his country. He knew it and believed it. They had high expectations of him and he took on that responsibility. Over the 5 yrs we had high expectations setting global targets and these were achieved from a very different and difficult background in Botswana from those in the UK. From my perspective I took on a difficult challenge and responsibility that perhaps could only be achieved between 2 very good friends, backed up by a very supportive and understanding family. I never took any money from Gable for anything over the 5yrs but took the challenge as a huge opportunity for me in the area of sport that I knew most about and loved. I never regretted the challenge. I was rewarded by being part of Gable’s success and he was never anything other than hugely grateful. Quite simply a great life experience.

Question 14-What advice might you give to coaches who have coached mediocre athletes for some time but now have an elite performer.

AM-If you have spent you whole coaching career in preparation for this moment, it’s easy – continue doing what you have been doing, you have the tools. You only now need to sharpen them and they will be sharpened by the experiences your elite athlete will open up to you. If you are still on a fairly steep learning curve, become the best pal of the most experience coach in your event and milk them dry.

GW-Firstly get to know all about your athlete. Learn their points of reference in life, what matters to them ie family, interests, commitments, beliefs, work /study etc. Your points of reference may be irrelevant. To them. The subjective side of their lives will determine the decisions you take re the objective issues such as goal setting, formulating training schedules etc.

Secondly seek support and advice from people who have made the journey at international level as a coach (someone you are compatible with and trust). You and the athlete will be making the journey together. The effectiveness of your partnership, given the required ability of you both, will be down to subjective elements such as trust, belief, loyalty and compatibility.

Thirdly never forget the basics of the event. Identify the important things and do them well in training and in competition.

Fourthly remember your athlete’s “ace card” is his/ her given talent. Don’t kill this off. Always avoid fatigue like the plague. Keep your athlete healthy, happy and never underestimate the value of rest in your training programme.

Question 15-In Olympic year you are granted one wish as an elite performance coach-what would it be.

AM-For the athlete that I am working with to enter the competition arena healthy and fit - if I have done my job correctly, they will do the rest.

GW-To appreciate and make best use of all the support that can be accessed for an elite athlete during this Olympic year. Many of the athletes in London from other countries will look on what is on offer for us as coaches and athletes as paradise.





FEATURING British Record Holder and World Indoor Silver Medallist (2008) Chris Tomlinson (CT); Internationally-renowned coach Frank Attoh (FT), coach to Tricia Smith World Gold Medallist TJ( 2005) and Commonwealth Gold(s) (2006 and 2010). Coach to Larry Achike Commonwealth Gold TJ( 1998), current coach to Chris Tomlinson. Peter Stanley (PS) one of the few coaches to coach an Olympic Champion(2000), and World Record Holder(1995), Jonathan Edwards, coach to World Silver TJ medallist Jadel Gregorio(2007) and former coach to Chris Tomlinson

Question 1- How and why did you take up Long Jump(CT) and to Frank and Peter why did you take up jumps coaching

CT Began by winning two ESAA triple jumps

FA Good all-round sportsman, started at local club Barnet Copt hall after 15.98pb in TJ

PS Went with his daughter Joanne to the local track and was enlisted by Carl Johnson

Question 2- A DVD clip of you (Chris Tomlinson) performing will be played, can you briefly discuss your technique (Frank and Peter to chip in if they wish).

CT Described his technique, at his best attacks run up, stand up in the last four strides, almost lean forward to avoid leaning back, this will give a good contact and free leg through very quickly, try to land in a straight line. As an elite athlete limited short approach (no less than 12-14), and some full approach jumps in training.

FA and PS Developed from short approach for beginners, in line with what Chris T said for elite athletes. PS talked about the skill is the application of technique at high speed. FA and PS talked about not encouraging sinking/lowering of the hips, stay tall in the last four-six strides.

Question 3- Please explain what you do (or have done) to improve speed, specifically for run-up? To all three

CT ran with sprint group, does run-up practice at this time three times per week, feels he has to run at faster than 10.5-6 m/sec and has run 10.6(100m) but feels he could run 10.3

FA as with CT, works with sprint group, tries to enhance what the athletes he receives, no draconian measures. PS does build up practices from 10m,15,20m running correct mechanics. Both coaches follow the sprint principles outlined by Loren Seagrave(see U-Coach)

Question 4- What part does weight training play in your development, how often do you do it, can you identify some exercises and what benefit do you feel it gives you?Again To all three

CT-Started like many lifting heavy in weight room, but now prefers fast work, hang cleans plus other general conditioning weights to support, groin, Achilles, calf etc, works about one per week at this time in the ‘weights’ room

Both PS and FA concur with what CT said, however they both insist that athletes learn how to lift correctly, they also like to use exercises which mirror the skills to be developed.

Question 5- Can you explain your mental approach to major competitions and did you have any formal training in this area? (Chris Tomplinson) Follow up to Frank and Peter, your view on the importance of mental training and its role in World Class competition.

CT- after 2002 did some work with Dave Collins on visualisation which he found beneficial, but CT was quick to point out that there is mutual respect at World level and little or no posturing or psyching out takes place, all the World class athletes just get on with their own jobs.

PS and FA also said they had no formal training but from experience and knowing their athletes can work out what they are thinking and can act accordingly. FA said that it’s his body language and facial expressions that convey much to the athletes.

Question 6- Could you please give brief details of the week before your/a major competition? (Chirs Tomlinson) To Frank and Peter explain your philosophy of the week before a major competition (Olympic/Worlds)

CT Usually a light week working back from the competition, some activation work one day before, usually one day off but if its Diamond League and travelling is involved, very little time to rest before a competition. PS and FA both agreed that athletes are different, FA talked about someone who needed up to 3 days off before, others who did heavy weights up to three days before.


FA No dramatic changes made to CT, PS had done most of the work, FA just tried to support and enhances what Chris does well

CT At 29 he now knows what is best for him, he had to work in the new era of S&C support which frankly with hindsight he could have done without!

Both PS and FA stress the need for beginners to have basic sports skills and fundamental movements which enhance athletic development.


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