Todd Lane has been honored multiple times as Assistant Coach of the Year in the South Central Region by the USTFCCCA. Under his direction, in 2019 Juvaughn Harrison became the first individual in NCAA history to win the long jump and high jump at the same NCAA Championships. Lane also had the distinction of coaching two NCAA Champions in the same event when Rayvon Grey won the NCAA indoor long jump and Harrison captured the outdoor championship. Coach Lane has been a devoted instructor for coach’s education, presenting at clinics throughout the U.S.
Freelap USA: Most coaches who are inexperienced rush the progression of plyometrics. What do you do outside of the obvious rudimentary hops with athletes? Have you made modifications over the years to your training inventory? How have you coached or instructed your jumping routines?
Todd Lane: There is definitely a progression. Single leg activities such as bounding are a progression. The complexity increases, but within a progression. As strength levels increase, we get into some more vertical, depth-oriented work.
I probably haven’t modified the inventory on paper, but there is a growing demand for how the exercises are performed. The biggest errors I see in plyo coaching are the lack of coaching and/or proper progression. We spend a lot of time with our rudimentary hops/jumps setting foot contacts, amortization in joints, and force application direction.The biggest errors I see in plyo coaching are the lack of coaching and/or proper progression, says @LSUtoddlane. Click To Tweet
Bounding… We teach bounding by cueing vertical. Increasing the flight times allows the body to keep alignment and be better able to prepare for the next contact. Over time, much like sprinting, the vertical is what creates bigger bounds, not the over-horizontal pushing, which creates poor postural positions that limit elastic qualities.
Freelap USA: All of the jumps require horizontal speed, including the high jump. When training your jumpers, how do you individualize speed development while keeping the group dynamics healthy? Training as a group fosters camaraderie but also limits personalizing or tailoring the training a bit. How do you balance both?
Todd Lane: First, I think group dynamics can have incredible benefits for raising the performance level of everyone in the group. A healthy amount of competitive desire among peers or seeing what others are capable of doing can help raise everyone’s game.
I am a HUGE fan of sprint-float-sprint workout setups for our pure speed development work. For example, 90-meter runs, with 50 meters of true sprinting, 20 meters of a relaxed run, and then 20 more meters of true sprinting. It slightly violates some energy system rules, but the coordinative qualities gained have huge implications for maximal velocity sprinting.
So, I may alter the zones slightly based on ability. Using the 90-meter example from above, a high jumper with different speed abilities than a long jumper may run 40-20-20. Each run is done individually, one at a time, but is of very high quality.
We are doing the same workout, just with modifications on the distance. I pull kids individually, too, if the power output looks like it’s not there, there’s tightness, etc.
Editor’s Note: For more information on this and other methods to develop maximal speed, please visit our educational resource page in our store.
Freelap USA: Throws are important to training in many circles (no pun intended), so how do you use the details of throw distances or performance besides the basic number? What are you seeing mechanically during the throw that serves as a diagnostic for athlete limitations to general performance?
Todd Lane: Joint firing coordination patterns are the name of the game. Misfiring in the multi-throws is the same as in the weight room and on the track. The knee and hip are probably the most commonly mistimed or “mis”-coordinated. In the Olympic lifts, a common error is the knee angle changing faster than the hip angle. Ideally, we see a sequential and equal change in the joints. If you see it in multi-throws, you see it in acceleration, you see it in the weight room.Ideally, we see a sequential and equal change in the joints. If you see it in the multi-throws, you see it in acceleration, you see it in the weight room, says @LSUtoddlane. Click To Tweet
Freelap USA: The weight room at LSU is obviously a different beast, having Boo Schexnayder involved. How do you see strength and conditioning evolve now as more and more track coaches work with team and Olympic sports?
Todd Lane: We’ve been fortunate here in that we have our own weight room right at the track, and as coaches we’ve been able to do our own programming for our event groups. Boo brings light years of experience and knowledge. To be able to bounce programming ideas off of him from a strength standpoint, based on his success or what he thought didn’t work as well for him, has been fabulous.
I tell other sport coaches and strength coaches that, as a track coach, what I do all day long is strength and conditioning. That’s a full-time, six-hours-a-day for 25 years, practical experience job. Other sports have a tactical coach and then an S&C coach. How it evolves, I don’t know, as the S&C world from an outside perspective seems very territorial. My biased opinion is that track and field coaches have done more with the whole picture than many other coaches and that includes many rehabilitation programs. There are a lot of tools to be utilized there.
Freelap USA: You wrote a great article on light sleds, a topic that was expanded on recently. With such a strong program in the weight room, do you see heavy sleds as redundant since your athletes are so powerful? How do you employ resisted sprints over the season?
Todd Lane: I’m sure they have a place, but my training is done in conjunction with a strength program, where I already employ heavy resistance. If we work the continuum on strength and velocity, I get what I need strength-wise from the weight room and my multi-jump work.
I like lighter sled work (10% velocity decrement in performance), because I’m able to maintain the mechanical features I work to coach every day and work the continuum with my resistance and non-resistance running.
I saw one proponent of heavy sled work ask, if kids get faster because of it, does it matter that their sprint technique is mechanically not good. I have yet to meet a strength coach who says, “Ahhh, screw it. As long as the kids are getting stronger, it doesn’t matter what their lift technique is like.” It’s the same thing. As a track coach (aka full-time strength and conditioning coach), I want mechanical efficiency to avoid injury, but also to create greater power outputs because of optimal mechanics.Sled work allows the athletes to continue to feel the pushing qualities and not get away with over running—over gunning the start of any run, says @LSUtoddlane. Click To Tweet
We try to stay in touch with some resisted training almost weekly, for several reasons. One, I can do a lot of work in the resistance area; lighter resistance (10% change in performance) without concern of injury and a high degree of concentric work. Two, it serves as a nice potentiation on Monday, when we do a lot of acceleration work. Typically, on Monday the body is not fully electrically awakened after a Sunday of lying around.
Third, when athletes start getting really fresh and fast, they start to lose a little of the feeling of “pushing.” This is typically in the latter half of the season. I’ve watched when kids are fresh and excited at big meets, and they are out of control on the runway because they’ve lost the feeling of pushing. The sled work allows them to continue to feel the pushing qualities and not get away with over running—over gunning the start of any run.
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