Nigel Lewis – Emails and response

Nigel Lewis: Senior UK Athletics Jumps Coach
Friday April 2nd 2010
Hi Simon
I tutored for UK Athletics last weekend in Birmingham and Aberystwyth. Travelled over 400 miles and met  some great coaches. Over 170 coaches now subscribe to my newsletter and last weekend in Birmingham one of the aspiring coaches I was assessing was one of the coaches who subscribe to this newsletter. Her name was Lisa from Peterborough, and she passed as a Level 2 coach so can now ‘fly solo’ and gather around her a group of talented jumpers to coach and hopefully make a difference to their lives.
At Birmingham by sheer coincidence was discussing drills for triple jump, we looked out of the window and Phillips Idowu was ‘drilling’ on the infield. He was working on combination hopping and bounding and looked very quick and strong. I told the group of 14 coaches that I had planned it for them ……some of them even believed me!!!
Been busy this week on my DVD Power Point Presentation with audio commentary. Should be ready by early summer.
I had an interesting email from Anthony Bateman [see below]
Hi Nigel, Your letter was forwarded to me by a colleague long jump coach and one I found very interesting.
One point I tend to explain differently from yours when coaching the hang movement is, instead of saying drop the lead leg, rather, allow the body to catch up and pass it into the long peak-height position. This seems to avoid possible forced movements that could spoil the upper body positioning.
I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this. Its not a great deal different but to me it is a more natural explanation.
Great contrbution you are making and a number of LJ coaches I have spoken to have nothing but praise for what you are doing. You may not get much directly but the appreciation is there.
Regards, Tony Bateman, Winchester & District AC.
Hi Tony, Thanks for your email a short while ago. I agree that there are many ways of explaining movement patterns and technical points. I love coaching the hang but would consider it to be the most difficult of styles to coach effectively. The hitch-kick being the easiest. 

When I introduce the hang to a jumper who is ‘ready’ and has mastered the stride jump initially, I ask them them to straighten and then extend the free leg so that it become a strong long lever and can then be driven downwards and backwards to ‘meet up’ with the take-off leg. I find that by doing this creates a firmess and added tension to the core as well as positioning the hips and it then helps to stabilise and create that long shape we are looking for and ultimately creates a moment of inertia to slow down forward rot


Younger jumpers who employ the hang find it difficult to get into and hold this long, pin like shape in the air. They also find it difficult to get into the L shape at the apex of the jump – with the legs bend at 90 degrees at the knee to allow for the legs to come through as short, fast dynamic levers to give a good leg chute.Thanks for your comments Tony – much appreciated and will mention your views in my next newsletter [if you don’t mind]

How does the jumper accomplish an accurate approach? This is a problem that all coaches and their jumpers have. It appears to never go away and I get many emails asking how can coaches ensure that their jumpers do not continually foul out or jump from well behind the board.
So here are some tips from Randy Huntington:
Practice! Practice! Practice!Practice!Practice!Practice!

Energy Distribution down the runway!
Accuracy and Visual Control

Consistency of Stride Pattern – loads of statistics out there that show that it is nigh on impossible to guarantee that all the strides in the approach run remain the same for every approach run over a jumpers career. So this is a component that must be consatntly practiced and rehearsed. All the phases of the approach run must be worked on. The start over the first 5/6 strides should be looked at with great detail. If a jumper is ‘lazy’ over these first few strides then the mid phase and attack to the board will be comprimised. I work hard with my jumpers on the start. The big question is do you have a walk/jog on or adopt a static start? I have favoured a static start for the younger jumpers until they have more experience.

Accumulation of Errors – for every error the jumper makes over the first 6 strides will have that knock on effect and the jumper will have to make several adjustments as he/she nears the board. Youngsters are unable to do this on a consistent basis and is possibly one of the major reasons that they fail to find the board and foul out. I have often stated the fact that the approach run is a complex serial skill amd must be treated as such.
I liked this analogy from Randy: The long jump approach run is a dance – You are on a stage so you MUST choreograph your approach
Adjusting the position of their measured start mark.  We need to spend a great deal of time practicing this under a variety of conditions. I have my jumpers ‘move’ their check mark backwards and forwards during a session. They still MUST attempt to hit the board. They must develop spatial awareness
and be able to make minor adjustments to body positioning and running action earlier in the approach run rather than 3 to 4 strides from the board.

Accuracy (Visual Control/Steering)

As they approach the board they modify their stride pattern to hit the board accurately.

Use of oversize board (different colors) for a time to help the athlete adapt to visual control and overcome the fear of fouling.
This is a subconscious event!
In the absence of an oversize board I enscribe a 1 metre chalk circle from which they take off from [actually I’ve never seen an oversize board!]
The moment they begin their approach run they are attempting to run in a STRAIGHT LINE to the boad. You’ve only got to have a few of the strides containing unwanted lateral movements and the chances of missing the board are hightened. I sometimes place a white chalked line right up the centre of the approach run. Jumpers have to be able to ‘steer’ up the runway.
Spent a few hours on Thursday morning working with a 19 year old triple jumper who I expect to jump beyond 15mts this summer. He told me that he had never been shown how to land from the jump phase. Up until that morning he always landed virtually upright and was possibly losing 50cms.

So we spent over an hour on developing:
‘the long low hop – the ‘bound’ – ending with a split and pull
A lot of empahsis was placed on ensuring that he was running into the hop phase as opposed to preparing to hop. I consider the hop phase to be an extension of the approach run. The take-off angle into the hop phase being crucial.
It was slow patient work but at the end of this specific drills session I had him taking the speed in to the hop and then utilising that speed throughout the remaining phases AND he was able to take off effectively from the step landing into an efficient landing position.

I shall elaborate on the details of the this skilled practice next week………….
All for this week
Have a Happy Easter,
My response,
Hey Nigel,Love your letters they are great, and I´m glad to hear people are listening to you in B´ham….. Margrethe Renstrøm finally set a new Norwegian record of 6.64m last summer and went to the World finals. She had 60% plus of her competition jumps as fouls due to her aggressive approach in previous years. Also her final stride used to be too long causing problems. A bag full of drills daily helped…. Its been years since I´ve seen or heard any coach actually touch upon the real reasons for approach variation. Keep pushing and maybe it will dawn on them… In 99-2000 I was working daily under Dr F-X Li at B´ham uni on standard deviation (SD) of foot strikes with data from all over the world from Carl Lewis to non athletes. Strangely about 1 in 200 people will run like robots with no SD in toe to board distance when long jumping…. This does not mean they are good at hitting the board. It just means they have no SD.

Understanding this gait regulation system in humans is crucial in developing learning paradigms for coaches. Stride length is regulated by air time between foot contacts. I.e. tempo and rhythm, you need too ´feel´the rhythm to ´enjoy´ the ride. Stride air time is regulated by vertical impulse of the foot strike. Time to contact to an object (take-off board) is calculated by the rate of radial expansion of two points on the object within the visual field. I use two bright cones on the edges of the board.

SO a strong connection needs to be made, in the athletes mind, between the rate of expansion of the cones and the vertical pressure of each stride.

The ´zeroing in´on the board only happens during the last 7 strides, so consistently the start mark position has little baring on the take-off point. I use a 4 stride from the board mark in competition warm up. Take an average from a load of run through´s. Some times the officals won´t notice, and leave it there during competition. The athlete is trying to hit the board and not the 4th marker as that is strictly for me only. I instruct the athlete to move the start mark forward or back relative to their foot placement on the 4th mark, NOT THE BOARD. I have had a lot of success with this technique. I will be fascinated to find out what you think of this approach and my thinking.

I tell the athletes that your mind is like a parachute, if its not open it will not work!

Keep up the good work Nigel, I´m following.

Kind regards

Simon Hunt


About Simon Hunt

As a professional for over 15 years with a strong academic background, Simon has developed dynamic style of personal training. Effective, functional training routines, tailored towards your personal health and fitness goals are what he loves to work towards. This style of training is based around a wealth of experience that includes, working with numerous World and Olympic athletes, developing Norwegian sport champions, preventing heart problems and other diseases through exercise as a medicine, as well as countless private clients. www.sihunt.wordpress,com As professional athlete and personal trainer, i have over 24 years experience in athletics where my expertise lie in the jump events and sprints. I also have knowledge of basketball and gymnastics. I have 15 years experience working as personal trainer 6 of which as an exercise physiologist training heart patients, ranging from angina to transplant, as well as many other specialised conditions i.e. diabetics etc.
This entry was posted in Athletics, Exercise, Fitness, High jump, Links, Long jump, Margrethe Renstrøm, Movement Drills, My training sessions, Research, Strenght and Conditioning, Triple jump, vertical, Vertical power and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Nigel Lewis – Emails and response

  1. jump program says:

    Nice letter. Like you I also dream of becoming a basketball superstar. I’m currently working with my jump this time.


  2. Nice post here. Some of your letters are hard to read. Maybe because of the font setting that you have.


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