Archive for January, 2010

Beating the Box

January 26, 2010

The other day I had the great pleasure of sharing the coaching duty with my former collegiate coach, Jim Kiefer.  Coach Kiefer and I gave a clinic together to help teach high school coaches in the Southern California area.  Coach Kiefer was really excited because he had personally cut, hammered and painted several sizes of wooden bounding boxes.  Frankly, I was impressed because I once tried to make some boxes but failed miserably.  The boxes were beautifully made and designed to boost any triple jumpers ability to fly.

Many jumpers have never had the pleasure of meeting a “bounding box” before.  This is too bad because there is no better exercise for a triple jumper than box drills.  If an athlete is able to master bounding on, over and between bounding boxes their triple jump will greatly improve.  I have rarely seen an athlete who is proficient at the triple jump that has not had a turn on the boxes.

The size of a bounding box should never be higher than 12 inches or 33 centimeters in height.  The best boxes have the following dimensions:  width 2 feet (30.5cm) x length 2 feet (30.5cm) x height 6 (15cm) – 9 (23cm) inches.  The wood should be sturdy enough to hold a person weighing 500 pounds (227kg); because that is the type of force that will be applied to the box. 

Place the boxes in a straight line and bound on and off the boxes from one end to the other.  Start with the boxes close together and slowly move the boxes apart. Keep the distance between the boxes relatively the same.   Occasionally, put the boxes closer and jump over the boxes from one end to the other.

To increase power, start from atop the first box and bound to the end.  To develop speed and agility, get a running start and try to get as much “air time” between each box.

Now, I must go try to steal some boxes from Coach Kiefer!!!

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I am all thumbs!

January 13, 2010

Often young triple jumpers have trouble with their arm action during the jump.  Many can’t seem to get their arms in the right position behind them in preparation for the explosion on the ground.  I have found that a simple trick can help remedy this problem.

Paying attention to the position of the thumb when moving the arms will help enable an athlete to more efficiently place the arms where they need to be for each phase of the jump.  For example, if you place your arms in front slight bent with the hands at mouth level, palms relaxed and facing each other,  the thumbs will be facing up.  Now, move the arms as far apart and behind you as possible with the thumbs still pointing towards the sky.  If you are human your “scapula” or shoulder blade (bones in the upper part of your back), will prevent you from moving too far behind the body. 

However, the simple motion of pointing the thumb down to the ground will release the shoulder girdle and allow a significant movement toward the back.  In some athletes the hands will be able to touch behind your body.  This is a simple thing but it is important to note that in the triple jump, simple things are very important!

Coaching Coaches…

January 11, 2010

Last weekend I did a clinic for the LA84 Foundation http://www.la84foundation.org/index.html. The clinic was for high school coaches who were beginners to the triple jump coaching experience. The people who attended were very excited and interested in getting the correct information to coach horizontal events. I worked with Cameron Gary, a former triple jumper, coach and outstanding student of the jumps.

Our presentation covered the basics of the horizontal jumps and, among other things, included the following: The four parts of the approach run, the takeoff, the hop, step and jump of the triple jump as well as the landing. Cameron focused on long jump and I did my best to teach the triple jump.

The following is my outline for those who are interested.

• The flat foot is the most basic skill that a jumper must learn.
• Emphasize the middle of the foot instep hitting the ground, not the heal first.
• Not a pawing action because that emphasizes the ball of the foot.
o Squish a bug
o Break a board
o Push a skateboard

• Four parts of the run
o Start
 Static
 Active
o Power or Momentum Phase
o Rhythm or Position Phase
o Attack Phase
• Ratios 50/25/25 or 50/30/20
• The Board
o Take off in Long Jump
o Leave the board in Triple Jump

• The hop is the second most important basic skill
• Emphasize pushing off and landing on flat surface
• Slowly work them to controlling the takeoff and the landing
• Standing leg pushes off; heel to butt; then thigh parallel to ground; then drive foot to ground (no flicking)
• Arm action is important
• Triple Jump
o Double-arm action
o Single-arm action
o Mixed arm action
• Spend time on walking drills

• Hop
• Step
• Jump
• Landing

The next clinic I will give will be held in Murrieta, California for the LA84 Foundation for Advanced coaches. I look forward to doing more detailed and controversial presentations for the coaches.

Should be fun!