I think it can never be understated the importance of the first competition of the season. After months of preparing for outdoors after concluding an indoor season, even the context of the meet environment is important.
Back when I was younger, the infamous Dick Booth would take all his jumpers to a meet in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The marks were amazing and performances at that meet might not be surpassed until the championship part of the season. It wasn't until much later why I realized such performances happened. It's what happens when you take great athletes and put them in a relaxed environment. Where the months of training mix with the adrenaline of a first competition and the athletes are relaxed and having fun.
Last week we witnessed four discus throwers over 64 meters, a female over 62 meters, a shot putter over 21.47 meters, three long jump women over 6.58 meters, and three guys over 8.29 meters in the long jump all at the OTC meet. It was quite the early season marks for a group of athletes and the finest to date of the early season, in regards to field events. So when you are looking to open up your season remember the big meets aren't always the best to open up at, because in a relaxed environment an athlete can focus on executing instead of trying to compete.
As we conclude the first meet of the outdoor season. I wanted to reflect on the good fortune from this past weekend, after a few heartaches and missed centimeters Chris Benard was able to get a wind legal 17.06 meter jump. The furthest by an American so far this outdoor season and 4th in the world.
As I have talked to a few coaches about training over the past few months, they've asked what is your training like? It's not as easy an answer and one that always leaves me to contemplate what is the easiest answer. So without too much contemplation or thought I'll answer simply by the next few statements:
1. Speed must always be practiced
2. Athletes need to be balanced (everything can't be done in a linear way)
3. Strength and stability should be the backbone of every training plan
4. Rest and sleep are the best recovery out there
5. Training needs to be grounded in a system, but the system needs to be adaptable to each and every athlete
6. Communication between the athlete and coach is important, it needs to be one of coach/teacher - padwoin/student; one of the biggest mistakes I see is athletes that become too dependent on their coach
7. The training plan needs to change from microcycle to microcycle, mesocycle to mesocycle and year to year
8. Don't over estimate your coaching, its a privilege to coach but no one coach makes any athlete, it takes a village, and no matter how hard you try you can't get a 11 second 100m runner to run 9.8
9. Track and field is is what we do, the weight room, training, and everything else need to be a supplement to dong what we do
10. Be careful what you read and what you watch, always keep learning, their are a lot of "expert coaches" out there with no resume and thus no trial and error (sometimes my greatest learning comes from the mistakes I make)
So for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the most simple form of physics and at the basis of human form and movement. The thing that amazes me is how many "coaches" forget this important notion or may be they just don't understand the concept. There are so many "concepts" or "gimmicks" out there.
When looking at technique or a technical model remember the human body is not a machine, the technical model should be a base for what an athlete looks like, however athletes come in many different shapes and forms.
You can look at the three fastest men on the planet. They all look different, Usain Bolt is tall and thin, Yohan Blake is short and stalky, and Justin Gatlin is a hybrid of both the fore mentioned. To make generalizations that would be beneficial for all three could be done but each one still has to have their own distinct style and method.
The reason I bring up this topic is I've listened to coaches, read blogs, and hear coaches spewing information that is not based on any of Newton's principles. Maybe it's a lack of knowledge or maybe too much belief in their own knowledge. I'm fortunate because I am able to surround myself with some of the most brilliant minds in the world. If you haven't read Ralph Mann's book on the sprints and hurdles then you need to go out, buy it, read it, then read it again.
If you don't understand it then just live by these easy principles:
1. The fastest people create the greatest forces in the shortest amount of time
2. Strength to weight ratio is critical, so athletes need to be "fit" and strong
3. If you are looking at a technical sprint or jump issue that happens distally from the body you must first look at whats happening proximally (the feet only can do what is created at the hip)
4. The body cannot get into ideal positions if there is a lack of postural stability and postural integrity
5. It takes hours to become an expert, so quantity needs to be balanced with quality
6. Always learn, seek new knowledge, The first book every coach should read is: Neurophysiological Basis of Movement
7. Finally ask questions, we are afraid of sometimes seeming ignorant, ignorance is not a bad thing, it is simply a lack of knowledge
As we have gone back to a mini base and recovery phase after the indoor season it has reminded me of things that make "professional track" so different then college and high school.
1. The post collegiate season is completely different and has no definitive end, it differs athlete by athlete and event to event, being too influenced by the collegiate calendar can be very detrimental
2. The travel has a huge effect on performance and success is finding ways to train and compete at a high level while dealing with jet lag and over 20 hours of travel
3. During World championship and Olympic years the trials is just as important as the actual championship, so first you must achieve the standard and second you have to perform at the championship
4. Don't underestimate the importance of securing a big mark, to play with the big dogs you have to show you belong there
5. The Diamond League is a broken system but it's the only system we have, so meet directors and agents can determine world rankings more than the performance of an athlete, you can get more world ranking points for a 5th place finish and 7.90m jump then an 8.20 jump at Mt Sac
6. You need to find an environment that helps the athlete and is athlete centered, in the end all college coaches get paid for coaching the collegiate athlete so that will always be their priority
7. In the jumps and sprints, most Olympians and Medalist come from south of the 38th Northern parallel
8. Male Olympians in track are roughly 27.5 years of age and women are 28.5 years of age, so college should not be the end of the road
9. You have to be Eurocentric, meets will fly you while your in Europe but if your not a medalist they are not going to fly your from the states
Just some various thoughts and contemplations as we head into outdoors and establish our world and national rankings. Cheers
Head Coach and founder of Maximum Velocity Athletics.