Coach Fatigue

Genevieves Birthday 003I’ve just had a month away from the sport. Time to self-reflect and re-charge my batteries. I have logged up nearly 400 hours of coaching tine since the start of the year. It does take its toll.

Below is a very interesting article on coach fatigue….

It isn’t just athletes who can crumble under the pressure of training and competing – it can happen to coaches, too, as Dr Josephine Perry reports…

Coaches motivate others to live their dreams, throwing time and energy into supporting their athletes, usually for no financial return. Of the half a million people in the UK with a sports coaching qualification, around 20,000 are coaching in the UK’s 2000 athletics clubs.

Most would agree it is a labour of love, an undertaking that rewards in many ways, not least the psychological and physical development of those under their wing. For some, though, the effort and dedication to the sport becomes all-consuming with hours spent at the track gradually eating into family, work and social life. Such pressures have lead to a rise in burnout among coaches who find that the time they have to rewind and reflect on the sport is squeezed to a minimum.

A four-year study of 417 coaches by Sports Coach UK revealed that a decision to quit coaching is rarely planned in advance. Indeed, eight out of ten coaches in the survey who had stopped coaching admitted they had not intended to 12 months previously.

Delve more deeply into the results and the reasons become clear.

According to the study, each coach who had stopped their involvement had been working with around 30 athletes; more than half of them were unpaid volunteers with a further 19% getting paid only for a fraction of their coaching time. Whether they were full-time coaches or part-time volunteers, there was an overriding sense that pressure was mounting, that their lives were being thrown off kilter by the time and commitment pressures of their coaching role.

Life balance

Chartered sports psychologist Dr Paul Davis from Northumbria University has found the ‘life versus coaching’ conflict can be very difficult for many coaches to manage.

“We see coaches who find it difficult to maintain balance. They can feel under stress and may feel they are transferring their life stress on to the track,” says Dr Davis. “If you have general day-to-day stress and not enough time to recover, that impacts on your ability to think and respond and manage responsibilities. This can mean you are not bringing your best self to the coaching session. The athlete will pick up on that and it will impact how you both interact.”

Burden

Coaches can also feel a burden of responsibility – for the sport, education and personal development of other people, for keeping athletes motivated and for the influence they have over those they are coaching.

“If my athletes are not improving, or enjoying the session, then I feel as though it is my fault and I am doing something wrong,” says Tom Wain, athletics coach for the under-16s at Banbury Harriers. And he’s not alone. Furthermore, there’s pressure to develop and maintain qualities needed for ongoing improvement as a coach.

There is a need for constant diplomacy when giving feedback to athletes or dealing with parents, other coaches or team administrators.

They also need to build their own resilience. Coaches can become emotionally invested in those they support and, consequently, their athletes’ losses not only become the coaches’ losses but can also prompt self-doubt and diminished confidence.

Elite pressure

At elite level, the stress to achieve is often multiplied. Davis’s research has found coaches “will feel organisational stress from their national governing body wanting them to deliver on performance outcomes, but these are often beyond the control of the coach”. This can compound the stress felt by a coach, particularly if their athletes need to achieve in order to qualify for lottery funding and risk being dropped if they don’t come up to the mark.

A study published last year by the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences found as many as one in four high-level coaches feels a high level of fatigue – a crucial symptom of emotional burnout – at the end of the competitive season.

“This is a significant number and an issue sports organisations and coaching education programmes need to address to make sure coaches can remain in their jobs for a long time,” writes Marte Bentzen, who led the research.

Fallout

But as Bentzen says: “Burnout is more than just feeling tired.” It is a workload-related syndrome that creeps on gradually. The condition is characterized by feeling a high level of fatigue, blunted emotions and reduced performance not just as a coach, but as a human being. Warning signs include loss of energy and confidence, feeling overwhelmed by the coaching task and structure and losing motivation. Ultimately, it is leading to valued coaches being lost from all levels of the sport.

So what can be done to stem the rise of burnout? Davis stresses that coaches should prioritise their own well-being. “They need to use mental skills like athletes: relaxation, mindfulness or self-talk,” he says. “A great technique would be ‘written emotional disclosure’, each day writing about emotional experiences during the day to help you process them and make sense of the emotions they bring. Through this you can respond more positively in the future and write strategies which will allow you to bring your best self to the session.”

Education

Bentzen’s research suggested that coaches need to be better educated on how to organise their working hours, set limits and how to maintain a healthy balance between their working life and personal life.

They also need to be made aware of how they can care for their own well-being and maintain their energy levels through proper rest and recovery.

Australian studies have also found that the more the coach feels they have organisational support and have learnt coping strategies, the less likely they will be to burn out.

So, if you are coaching and feeling like it is getting on top of you, reflect upon your motivation for coaching and write it down, ask for help when you need it and call on your social circle for support.

These should help you remember more of the benefits, and less of the stresses.

Speak with you all soon,

Nigel

 

 

Long Term Planning for Jumpers

Recommendations for Long-Term Planning

I take no credit for this blog. This is an extract from a great article on long term planning for horizontal jumping by Nick Newman [UK Jumps Coach now based in the USA].

Nick says he approaches programming from the perspective of broad to narrow. Understanding big-picture principles provides essential bases for successful day-to-day practices.

Here are his FIVE recommendations in addressing long-term development:

  1. Elite athletes must keep general training to a minimum. Gone are the days when building an “aerobic base” and regarding it as beneficial to specific development was acceptable. General work can enhance recovery and aid in injury prevention but shouldn’t be developed beyond what is absolutely necessary.
  2. You should address specific training and technical development all season long. This includes continually using the most important exercises and best training methods.
  3. Generally speaking, “less is more” in most aspects of training. Elite jumpers respond best to greater intensity and lesser volume. Much of the literature—especially regarding plyometric training—emphasizes volume far too much.
  4. Training quality is the most important aspect of programming and planning. You should monitor daily sessions for all specific exercises. The target is always the highest-quality speed and power expression. The session or particular exercise should stop when the outcome drops below desirable levels.
  5. With specific training continually present in some form, it is important to think in terms of emphasis shifts rather than rigidly focused training blocks. Done correctly, emphasis shifts provide seamless transitions throughout the year.

THANKS NICK…

Speak with you soon,

Nigel

Some Thoughts on Horizontal Jumps Training…

Genevieves Birthday 003A larger volume of speed endurance training  is sometimes necessary to prepare long jumpers for long lasting competitions [Italian Research] and indeed longer technical sessions. Jumpers are not that keen on these sessions! But they are important. I personally do not include a lot of longer intervals. We tend to stay in the ‘zone’ [mainly 30—120mts]. But sets of 150’ s, 200’s an above can be included into the programme.

  • Also in season, if the jumper has a lot of competitions this might have an adverse effect on reactive capacities. So there is a case for cutting out minor competitions and just concentrating on the ‘majors’.

There is a definite trend in the development of long jumping to attach particular significance to the speed of the run up.

  • Recent research indicates that better results are achieved from an improved run up velocity. This applies in particular to elite athletes.
  • Again research shows that most long jumpers develop in the run up speeds around 93-95% of their maximal potential. However, changes in the run up speed make it necessary to change the take-off action because the higher the run up speed, the shorter is the time available for the take-off impulse.
  • This creates the need to pay attention to the development of an extremely explosive take-off at high speeds. So a specific weight training programme linked with a plyometric programme will create the type of strength required to effect a take-off at those higher speeds.

Speak with you all soon,

Nigel

 

The State of Junior Horizontal Jumping in Wales

Not a bad year for male and female long jumpers at U17 level. Nine boys leapt over 6.00mts and nine girls also jumped beyond 5.00mts….

The top two male jumpers were Kellen Jones [Newport] and Ceirion Hopkins [Neath]. Kellen jumped out to 6.77m with Ceirion not far behind with 6.73m. Both boys represented Wales this year at the British Schools Championships in Ashford.

Both boys now enter the U20 age group in 2017 and hope that both work hard this winter and look to jump out near or beyond the 7.00mt mark…

Behind them you have Shaun Zygadlo [Pembs] with 6.42m and Ioan Rheinallt [Colwyn Bay] with 6.32m

Pushing these lads are two combined eventers – Harri Wheeler Sexton [Cardiff 6.29m] and Michael Thompson [Swansea – 6.29m]

On the girls side, the top ranked female was Catrin Lord [Cardiff] with 5.62m. Catrin did this leap at the Wales v England U20 match early in the year. Behind her we have Emily Thomas [Cardiff Archers] with 5.53m, Sarah Omoregie [Cardiff] [5.39m] and Lauren Evans [Cardiff] with 5.37m…

All girls with the exception of Emily now move up to the u20 age group. We all hope that all these promising long jumpers train hard this winter and attempt to maximise their undoubted potential…

I’ll take a look at those young long jumpers at U15 level next.

All the best, Nigel

 

It’s September 1st 2016…

DSCF2791

Hi all………I have had a website for over 10 years and have produced many hundreds of coaching articles on jumps and combined events. My articles have been read in over 20 countries around the world. This I have enjoyed immensely. But it has become increasingly difficult to maintain quality on a regular basis so I’m narrowing the field of play.

I intend to change direction this month. I still intend to write relevant and specific technical articles on jump and combined event related issues BUT will now  focus in the main on Junior Athletics in Wales. I shall be writing about jumps development, combined event development and all issues surrounding their development within Wales.

I shall be looking at the Power of 10 rankings list at first and presenting the facts and stats through the junior age groupings…

So watch this space…..

All the best,

Nigel

The Approach Run [1]

Genevieves Birthday 003 (2)Following on from static or walk/jog on approach run:-

The main technical features that should be observed in the approach run are:

 

  1. Proper posture, consisting of neutral head and pelvic alignments…
  2. Progressive body angles through the drive phase, accomplished by using the legs to push the body up into running position….
  3. Vertical velocities being generated with each step…
  4. Relaxation and patient frequency increase, allowing the pelvis to move freely within its postural alignment.

How does the athlete accomplish an accurate approach?

  • Practice! Practice! Practice!
  • Energy Distribution down the runway!
  • Programming – Which is consistency of stride pattern and accumulation of errors
  • The long jump dance. You are on stage – choreograph your approach

Adjusting –  adjusting the position of their measured start mark. We need to spend a great deal of time practicing this under a variety of environmental, emotional, and physical conditions.

Accuracy – visual control –    (a)  As they approach the board they modify their stride pattern to hit the board accurately (b)  Use of oversize board (different colours) for a time to help the athlete adapt to visual control and overcome the fear of fouling.

More in next blog,

Speak with you soon,

Nigel

PS: Thanks to Randy Huntington [USA] Coach to WR holder Mike Powell 8.95m

Static or Walk/Jog On Approach Run?

Me Again 2 002 (2)I personally prefer a static start as do approximately 75% of all jumpers. Mistakes at the start are exaggerated at the end. Probably most importantly is to start the same way every time and a static start would assist this accuracy. Walk on may be more relaxing but not accurate. Ivan Pedrosa [Cuba] had a high foul rate even though he was a multiple medal and podium finisher. He had what looked like a very complex series of movement patterns before hitting his first check mark. Not to be copied.

To hit a 20cm take-of board from distances up to 45mts requires high levels of skill and spatial awareness. It is also essential to arrive at the board at your maximum usable take-off speed – optimal speed and at the correct postural position to execute a correct take-off. The obvious outdoor ‘fly in the ointment’ that can spoil a jumpers day is the curse of variable wind direction and speed.

To replicate this accuracy during competition requires run-up work to have been a key priority in the overall training programme.

There has to be a consistent stride accuracy from stride 1 to the board. As we know, the first few strides are often where many problems are born.

As this is the first thing that can go wrong it should be the first potential problem to nail down. So my favoured start would be a static start with one foot forward, arms in a  position ready to sprint.

When you use a static start you have to overcome inertia so the first stride is of vital importance. The heavier the jumper the more force has to be initiated. I emphasise a drive or bound from this static fixed position to the first landing. jumpers have to DRIVE over those first few strides.

We do spend time on the static start into the first six strides…

speak with you soon,

Nigel

Drills and Skills: Finding the Balance

I take no credit for this article. I saw it on the Elite Track Website and posted by Vern Gambetta: It could have been me talking….

“Simple choice with complex implications: You can do drills or you can train skills. If you want to get better at your sport train skills. Don’t forget drills do not equal skills.”

This needs a bit of elaboration; it is not an either or proposition, there is a place for drills if they are used properly.

To often I see practices and training sessions that are essentially a drill-a-rama, an endless collection of drills with no progression and no connection to the actual sport skill.

It is incumbent on each coach to develop a system that works in his or her sport. Meaningful drills that transfer to the sport are part of a good system of training. Care must be taken that the drill does not become an end unto itself.

The drills must have a clear context and connection the desired sport skill. The same is true for technical and tactical drills; they must connect to a bigger whole.

Criteria for effective drills:

  • The drill should have a clear purpose and goal.
  • The drill should be precise and exact.
  • Drills should be individually prescribed to address a specific technical problem for that individual or a tactical issue for a team.
  • In selecting a drill the focus on the absolute need to do not on the nice to do.

 

Speak with you all soon,

Nigel

Training Tips and Comments…