Coaching 101: Warm Up & Cool Down for the Jumps
by Roy Stevenson
Because of the highly ballistic nature of the jumps, they require a solid warm up before training and competition. Warming up readies the jumper's muscles by increasing the force of their muscle contractions and speeding up muscle contraction rate, providing that much needed power and speed on the runway. Warming up also helps nervous athletes stabilize their adrenalin rush before competition.
Phase One: Start the warm up with 10-15 minutes jogging to increase body temperature--slow and easy.
Phase Two: Immediately after jogging, jumpers should perform a series of dynamic stretching exercises to reduce muscle stiffness. Although they can start with static stretches, ballistic stretches through a wide range of motion work best because they are closer to the jumper's actual movements in competition; and research shows that static stretching exercises do not simulate rapid running movement and may actually cause a reduction in leg power.
Phase Three: The jumper progresses to 15-20 minutes of general and jump-specific drills. These drills put the finishing touches on the warm up and prepare the athlete for jump training or competition. Given the requirements for successful jumping (speed, strength, agility), the drills should include a few leg speed exercises that can easily be done with the sprinters.
Typical leg speed warm up drills include series of 5-10 x 50 meter or 5-10 x 100 meter "acceleration stride throughs" where the jumper focuses on correct running technique and staying relaxed while maintaining a fast leg turnover. These should be done with rolling starts, where the jumper gradually picks up his pace after slow jogging for the first 10 meters. Each stride through should be a little faster than the previous one, with the final one being at about 95% of top speed. If your jumpers complain that these accelerations are fatiguing them for the main work out, adjust the number of reps downward, so they will have plenty of energy left for their main workout.
These drills could also include stationary pop-ups, where the jumper drives off his take-off leg, emphasizing knee lift and a tall body position. These can be over 30-50 meters, but no longer than this. Emphasize proper sprint mechanics and if the jumper is not mastering the drills at fast speeds, try them at a slower speed.
Once the jumpers can handle these fast drills, you might consider giving them a series of general practice drills. Here are a few examples: sideways walking or running (aka carioca), quick foot turnover in ladders, cone running for agility, short high knee lift drills (walking or running), heel kick drills, forward lunge walking, calf walking, plyometrics, calisthenics like squat thrusts, and short uphill sprints, downhill sprints, etc--you get the idea!
It is not necessary to do all of these drills in every warm up--in fact it would be impossible! So just select a few different drills for each warm up to keep it varied, interesting, and fun. The number of repetitions of each of these drills will vary according to how long each drill takes and its complexity. Generally you would expect your jumpers to do 5-10 repetitions of each drill before moving on to the next one.
Phase Four: Jump Specific drills
Follow these drills with several practice run-throughs and jumps. Start with standing long jumps and proceed to short approach drills using a 5,7, or 9-step approach. Skipping, hopping and bounding drills are also excellent for jumpers. Single-leg hops also work well, but make sure you hop on both legs. Bounding drills too, are great. Triple jumpers should do alternate leg bounding. After these drills, the jumper is now ready for the main workout.
Before competition, the jumper should do an abbreviated version of this warm up. Then all he needs to do is walk/jog to keep warm. The pre-competition warm-up needs to be controlled and dampened down so that it does not deplete the jumper's high-energy phosphates ATP and PC.
Final notes on the warm up
If the temperature is very cold, a passive warm up, where external heating agents like hot tubs, hot water bottles, and hot showers are applied, can be highly effective, preceding the outdoor warm up.
The cool down
The cool down is an often-neglected part of the workout and every bit as important as the warm up. It consists of an abbreviated warm up. i.e. An easy 5-10 minute jog followed by easy, slow static stretching.