Archive for May, 2009

Attitude Is Everything!

May 30, 2009

The triple jump is not easy.  In fact it is painful if you don’t do it right.   The triple jump requires a lot of talent and a heap of bravery.  That is one reason I never made a full jump in practice and I never ask my jumpers to do a full jump in practice.  Without the adrenaline of competition your body will take a lot of punishment in the jump.  That is not to say that a short run jump is not appropriate for practice.

Similarly,  how a jumper approaches the jump is critical in the success that they will have in the triple jump.  For example, I have a daughter who was a good triple jumper.  She, however, felt too much pressure to be good because of my history.  No matter how much I wanted her to be her own person it was difficult to separate herself from her father.  On one occasion she was not doing very well in her competition and I saw her start to tighten up because I was there watching.  I thought I should leave to prevent her from the pressure.  On second thought I decided to try something that helped me in the past.  I went to her when she was starting to jump and asked her to smile.  This simple thing helped her relax and allowed her to go 2 feet further than she had jumped to that point in the competition.

My exerperience with my daughter caused me to review my personal experince with attitude toward jumping.  I had the best jumps when I was having fun and enjoying myself.  I realized that attituted could be the boom or bust in the triple jump.

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The Attack of the Flat Foot!

May 16, 2009

One of the most important parts of triple jumping is learning to jump using a flat foot.  Throughout the jump the athlete must land on a flat foot in each phase of the jump, even the takeoff on the board.  Do not land on the ball of the foot or the heel.  The foot must strike the ground with equal force on the ball and the heel forming a solid base for jumping.

Over the years I have seen young athletes using horrible foot placement and wondering why they can not jump far.  The key is to put yourself in a position to jump far.  If your foot strikes the ground using the heel or ball of the boot before the flat hits then that athlete is essentially slowing down the speed of the jump and therefore taking away the potential to jump far.  Effort should be made to practice using a “flat foot attack” method of jumping.  The object is to accellerate the “flat of the foot” toward the ground to create force that propels the athlete forward and up.  The hips must be above the support leg to absorb the impact and allow the body to push off into the next phase of the jump.

The flat foot is the most basic part of triple jumping and needs to be practiced and mastered before any other technique is contemplated.  An athlete should work on placing the foot flat on the ground, then flat on the sand.   The sand imprint can tell you if you are putting equal amount of force throughout the bottom of the foot and give an indication as to what part of the foot is slow to strike.

Single leg bounding over thirty meters is a good drill to master the flat foot.  Measure 30 meters, have the athlete hop on one leg from the start to the finish.  Watch the foot strike and correct any strike that is not completely flat.  When hopping, be sure that the legs are cycling and the hop leg is accellerating to the ground.

Any young athlete that masters the “flat foot attack” will have the basic skill to maximize their jumping ability.  After mastering this technique other techniques will come much easier.

You have a foul foot!

May 14, 2009

Recently I heard from a coach who’s athlete has a tendancy to foul often.  He has tried to move her back a foot at a time but she still winds up fouling at the board.  In desparation he contacted “Mr. Triple Jump”.  I have had a lot of experience with this type of problem in the past and have tried many things.  It wasn’t until I was jumping in a World Master’s Championship in Spain that I realized the problem.  It is the problem of foot – eye coordination.

There are many culprits to the problem of fouling.  The most obvious is that the athlete has a depth perception problem.  She or he does not know how far the board actually is in relation to their body so the athlete has a tendency to reach for the board, resulting in a foot foul of about one to 6 inchs (2.5cm to 15cm).  A simple test for this problem is to have your athlete stand on the board with their toes on the edge of the board.  Have the athlete take a step backwards and stand at that spot with both feet lined up together.  Have the athlete look at the board to gauge the distance.  Have the athlete then look straight ahead at the end of the pit and take a step onto the board.  Typically, an athlete with a perception problem will step beyond the board.

If depth perception is not the problem then perhaps the problem is in the running.  Often, after injury, an athlete changes their stride pattern but keeps the same reaction at the board.  That will through the athlete off considerably.  The fix to this problem is to practice changing the timing of the foot strike on the board.  Encourage the athlete to practice putting the foot down sooner.  Also, you can try to have the athlete focus on the penultimate foot strike by placing a piece of tape  on the runway one stride away from the board and have the athlete step on the tape before jumping off the board.  This is a great drill for establishing an active penultimate stride also.

There are several other drills that can help this problem but I will save them for another blog.  I hope this helps!