England Athletics supports Coaches to attend European Hurdles and Jumps Convention

England Athletics supports Coaches to attend European Hurdles and Jumps Convention

Thanks to England Athletics and European Athletics, and specifically the on-site management and hosting of Swedish Athletics, Falun, Sweden was the venue for the European Hurdles and Jumps Convention last week.  Femi Akinsanya, Jade Surman, Guy Spencer, Piotr Spas, Zac Kerin, James Hillier, John Shepherd and Graham Pilkington made up the coach delegate team. 

John reports, "It was a an early start for Heathrow but once on board, the two-hour flight passed quickly. Sitting with Femi and Zac, conversation inevitably focussed on jumps (and social media, with one of the trio not having an Instagram account, shock-horror!)."

After clearing customs it was then a train journey to the small city of Falun which is the capital of Dalmara County and also home to Dalarna University - where the team were based - and a ski-slope. Inevitably some comparisons were made between ski jumping and long jumping - thankfully no one decided to have a go.

The ‘proper’ events of long and triple jumping and hurdle jumping (!) soon received the delegates' attention when just an hour or so after landing the lecture and practical programme began. Up first after the introductions was a lecture: From Talent to Elite Athlete and then another From World Class Athlete to Coach for Talented Athletes.  It was to be a bit of an “endurance jumps session”, and at least one of the party did succumb to bleary-eye syndrome in some of the lectures, admits John, -  not because the information presented was not of interest but due to the full-on nature of the weekend and the very early flight.

John told us, "The difficulty with these type of conferences is appealing to all the coaches that attend. Some inevitably will know more than others about a particular topic and therefore either be more (or potentially less) interested in what the speaker has to say. That can’t be helped. But talking to other country’s coaches informally and listening to their lecturers formally does open your eyes."

John mentions below some of the snippets that 'kept my eyes open'…

  • Early Specialisation
    The German Federation’s move away from U18 and U20 national champs for a number of years only to return to them a good few years later, coupled with a drive for their young athletes to also achieve a ‘B’ standard in another related event before they could enter their national champs. All designed to allow for controlled avoidance of heavy early specialisation…
  • The slightly contradictory messages about early specialisation…
    Very briefly, 90% of a studied cohort (266 finalists) from the World Youths improved; 49% went onto the World Juniors; and 21% participated in the senior world champs and Olympic Games (over time of course). Then Jeremy Fischer (coach to e.g. Will Claye and Brittany Reese) said that none of those he has coached that have made Olympic and World teams had success as juniors; "… there is very little correlation to senior level… you have to bridge that gap." Confused.com… well, perhaps not really as athletic development rests on so-many factors and even periods in time and research paradigms and practical and specific experience.
  • Reactive strength and the role of the Achilles tendon and its length and how this could affect jumping events and performance
    Shorter tendons allow for greater leg stiffness and longer ones require greater amortization which results in longer ground contact times… debate about how and whether this can and should be changed through specific training.
  • The triple jump can be seen as the hop-jump-land – not jump due to often poor execution of the jump phase.  Some ideas were forwarded to work on this i.e. blocking the arms at jump phase take-off to make it more propulsive.
  • The traditional model of skill acquisition and windows in young athletes is incorrect, well, at least for athletes - they can develop and respond outside of the specified years i.e. for speed, strength and aerobic development (probably common-sense when you think about it).

John finished off by reporting, "Back at the hotel after each session, discussion turned to the lecture content; many of you reading this who will have attended similar conferences whatever the field -  where attendeed voice opinion good, bad, stupid and comedic on what they sat through.  Of course there’s going to be respectful constructive criticism but there’s also going to be discussion on what was learned, gleaned or provoked and food for thought, and this was perhaps the real value of the three-day programme. None of the team suddenly came away revolutionised, but all came away with a snippet or two, an idea, a reinforcement of their learning and development, some more theory and some new drills. Evolutionised might be the best way to put it."

John took some videos at the event, like the one below - Click here to access his Youtube channel

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