Archive for the ‘Jump’ Category

IAAF Junior World Championships

July 28, 2014

photoIt has been a long time since I have posted on my site, sorry.  I think it is time to get back to business and get some more messages out to the public.  I am excited for several reasons.  First, it seems that the triple jump has an exciting future, especially on the women’s side.  Secondly, I am working with a great athlete now that could come back next year and surprise many who have doubted his potential.  And, finally, I am really inspired by the kids who are attending the World Record Camps that were held over the summer.

I just returned from Eugene, Oregon where the IAAF Junior World Championships were held.  It was exciting to see all the young talent from all over the world competing for their country.  I was impressed with the way the triple jumpers performed.  I especially liked watching the women jump.  The only disappointment is that the US women are still severely lagging behind the rest of the world.  We need to do something about that soon.  Last Saturday the IAAF ended the day with the senior men’s triple jump competition starring Christian Taylor.  You can see him in the picture above.

Over the last few months I have been working with Jadel Gregorio from Brazil.  He is a giant man that triple jumps.  His best is 17m90 (58′ 8.75″).  He has not competed in an international competition in 4.5 years because of an injury to his knees.  He is now strong and healthy.  He is still getting used to my training program but I think if he is patient he will be back into his old form soon.  I hope you will all pray for him.

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of youth camps.  Two of the camps are presented by the World Record Camps.  You can view the site to see many photos of the work that the young participants put into learning the skills necessary to improve in their selected event.  We had some of the best athletes/coaches teaching them.  Stacy Dragila, Ian Waltz, Jon Drummond, Dick Fosbury, Mike Powell and myself spent two days training the athletes in our specialty.  Along with these Olympians we had coach Gregg Simmons, a specialist in the hurdles.  Soon, the World Record Camps will be opening another clinic during the holiday.  Be sure to stay tuned at


2011 Masters Championships Experience

July 24, 2011

Recently, I competed in the Masters World Championships in Sacramento, California.  It was held on the campus of Sacramento State University.  Last year I competed in a similar event on the same track.  Last year I finished with two silver medals, in the high jump and the long jump.  I was entered in the triple but injured my hamstring in the long jump and couldn’t jump.

This year I finished second in the high jump with a result that was a bit disappointing because I usually make the winning height without a problem, must be my age….  Anyway, I felt pretty good going into the triple jump.  I warmed-up well and had a great warm up jump over forty-two feet.  When I hopped out of the pit I was excited because that would certainly win the competition.  In fact, I jokingly told the officials to mark it.  Little did I know that would be my last good jump of the evening.

I walked back to the end of the runway and felt a sting in my hamstring.  I thought I had been stung by something.  Unfortunately, it was the first sign of a tear in my hamstring, the same place as the year before.  I was shocked and devastated.  I didn’t know what to do and almost panicked.  I was the first jumper and the event was about to start.  I calmed down and began to think back through my years of experiences to see if there was a way to continue on.  First, I had to bide some time so I called for the trainers to come and wrap it.  I hoped the compression would help keep it from preventing me from running.  The judge allowed me to get wrapped before jumping.

On my first attempt, I ran about 6 strides slowly and knew I was in trouble because the leg started to really hurt.  I jumped anyway and didn’t make the pit, big problem!  I went back and sat down, depressed and confused.  Fortunately, my competitors, friends and family came to my rescue. First, all the guys competing with me came over and gave me words of encouragement.  Second, the Masters Public Relations Director, Bob Weiner, suggested that I continue to jump from a short run.  At first I thought he was saying that to keep me around for the media but after a second I thought he was right, I need to compete!

My best friend John came all the way from Los Angeles to see my jump.  My friend, Andre Phillips, the 1988 Olympic 400 meter hurdle champion came 2.5 hours as well.  Many people in the stands had come out to see me jump and I couldn’t let them down.  My wife, poor thing, was sitting in the stands with a look of concern on her face because she knew I was in trouble.  At that moment, Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic triple jump champion came from the stands and gave me some advice on how to get through the jump.  He saw that I was able to move my hips but I wasn’t getting in the right position to move the hips forward.  He also started doing what Al is famous for, getting me enjoying myself.  With Al there, it made it fun, regardless of the pain or the pressure.  I started to get a little confidence back.

So, I started my comeback.  I needed to get to the finals so I shortened my run to eight strides and finally got a jump long enough to make the finals; three more jumps.  My fourth jump was not as painful but I didn’t improve much.  If I was going to get in contention I needed to jump over 39 feet, something I felt confident I could do from a short run.  Al noticed that I was jumping fine on my opposite leg.  We came up with the great idea of me jumping with the opposite leg, yeah!  On my fifth jump I decided to try it.  I ran down and took a big hop, bigger step, but then I kept hopping into the pit…I forgot to put the right foot down for the jump…foul!  That was stupid, but funny!

On the sixth and last jump I had decided to go all out regardless of the pain.  Al was great, keeping me laughing, the crowded started the “clap” and my wife sweetly sent me a smile from the stands.  I lined up and my competitors joined in the clap.  I ran down the runway took a hop, step and jump to land over 40 feet (12m31, 40’4-3/4”) to move into first place by about a foot!  It was a great moment for me but I knew others waiting in line behind me could jump that far.  Many fouled or were too tired to jump further.

On his last jump, Georg Werthner, from Austria jumped further (12m48, 40’ 11-1/2”) to win the event; leaving me with a silver medal.  However, I can’t complain when I thought for sure I would quit before we even started.  I guess I learned something at the ripe old age of 55…never quit, trust your friends to help, and ALWAYS enjoy the blessing of jumping!

Why Camps?

May 27, 2011

I have done many camps and clinics over the years and generally speaking, the most effective have been those that combined the teaching of basic skills with competition, drills, and fun.  One of my favorite camp programs has been the Simplot Camp in Pocatello, Idaho.  The camp is 3 days of extensive coaching, drilling and lots of fun for all the participants.

Camps are great for learning from experts but it is also important to compare your skills to other athletes of the same age and experience.  Camps provide a platform for improving performance and meeting new friends.  Be sure to ask questions and take as much information away from the camp as you can!

Like the Simplot Camps, the World Record Camps will feature great coaching, drills and fun.  Participants will be able to ask all there burning questions to the best coaches in their event.  I’m excited to have a chance to be a part of this new wave of challenging camps dedicated to the success of young athletes.

I hope to see you there!

Training Camps

April 30, 2011

This summer I plan to do several camps & clinics. I hope that many of you will attend.  The clinics will be in several locations. Here is my schedule thus far:

June 27-30, San Diego, CA Jump/Speed Camp @ TBD

July 5-8 Pocatello, ID @ Idaho State University

July 13-16, San Diego, CA Jump/Speed Camp @ TBD

July 17-20 Los Angeles, CA @ UCLA All Star Jump Academy

July 21-22 Wyoming Coaches Clinic

July 25-29 San Diego, CA Agility Camp @ TBD

August 1-3 San Diego, CA Conditioning Camp @ TBD

August 3-5 Montana Coaches Association Clinic

August 15-18 Los Angeles, CA @ UCLA All Star Jump Academy

August 25-29 Walnut, CA International Track Camp @ Mt. SAC College

I expect to know the locations of the San Diego camps in a week or so. The camps will feature many drills and techniques for improving your performance. I will provide more information including how to sign up, fees and other information in future posts.

Training Program

April 18, 2010

I’m thinking about writing a training program for masters athletes who want to train for the jumps.  I think it might be fun to help some of the older guys get better.  The problem is, someone might beat me if I give them my secrets…

High School Track

April 14, 2010

Recently I’ve been coaching at the local high school.  I’ve done this before and really enjoy it.  I learn more about the jumps every time I coach high shool athletes.  The most difficult part for me is realizing that I need to explain  everything down to the most detailed elements.  When I coach world class or elite athletes they tend to understand things quickly and I never have to get too detailed.  I realized that if I don’t go back to high school I lose my coaching edge.  It is always good to go back to the basics so that I can polish up my skill as a coach.  Any coach that always teaches at the top of the heap will tend to get lulled into a pattern that I think is rather dangerous.  I have learned that it is important to continue to “replenish my knowledge”.

Tomorrow I’ll go watch my athletes compete in a local track meet.  I don’t expect much because I just started helping them and I haven’t been consistent.  It will be exciting to see how much they improve or, how much they don’t improve due to confusion.  Stay tuned for the result…

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!!!

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 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!

Hmmm…sucks to be OLD!

August 22, 2009

A few days ago I was clicking through some triple jump videos on youtube and I came across a video of me in 1983 at the first World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland.  It showed the typical Willie Banks “show” and I seemed to be having fun as usual.  I thought to myself with a smile how crazy I was when I was young and talented.  What a great time I had when I was competing.  When I was young I thought there was no one else who was having as much fun as I was at that time.

After a few seconds of reminiscing I turned to the comments.  The first few comments were fairly typical.  Then I came to a comment that was a little disturbing.  The writer said that I looked like I was on drugs.  I was completely shocked.  How could someone think that because I was having fun that I was on some type of drug?

At first I was offended and wanted to fire off a “zinger” to the “idiot”.  But, upon reflection, I realized that young people today have no idea who I was and what I did in the triple jump.  They don’t know how I got started nor how much fun I had at all competitions, win or lose.  In fact, most young people have no idea that I started the clapping.  Well, I guess it is my fault for getting old…

Fortunately, now there is the internet that can be used to talk about the old days and compare them to the present.  We can discuss history and the future of the triple jump.  I find comfort in knowing that the writer was ignorant and not stupid.  Hopefully, one day the writer will read about the history of the triple jump and realize that the event is more special than he can possibly imagine.

While it sucks getting old, it sure is good to be able to take advantage of the knowledge of history to make better triple jump coaching decisions.