SimpliFaster virtually convened a roundtable of esteemed and experienced jumps coaches to cover a bevy of topics related to jumps. We have been presenting these questions, and their answers, in a series of articles. This is the sixth and last in the series, and covers the topics of training setup and programming style influences on each coach.
SimpliFaster: Can you describe the training setup that you use and who/what would you say influenced your programming style the most?
Travis Geopfert: We set up training blocks that start from our biggest championship meet at the end of the year and work backwards. Ultimately, we spend 70% of our macro-cycle in a general preparation or special preparation phase. Although this is often difficult for athletes to understand, I do believe it’s a big reason for our success late in the year. Our athletes have the discipline and focus required to trust in the process and know that they will be ready during championship season.
Throughout this training calendar we have specific training blocks that are anywhere from 7-21 days long, with intermittent “recovery” weeks periodically built in. The time of year and the phase of training we are in affect what we do in these individual micro-cycles. In very general terms, however, I would say our training in a micro-cycle mostly pairs high-intensity speed and jumping with our lifting days. Then our active recovery and general strength work opposite to that.
There have been numerous strong influences on my personal programming. Doug Case and I work closely together with our jumpers and sprinters in programming almost the entire year. Other strong influences on me in my early coaching days were Kip Janvrin and Cliff Rovelto. They both helped to give me a very good understanding of training cycles and the importance of laying out a “master plan.”
There are numerous other coaches that I’ve gained valuable information from over the years. I’ve benefitted from personal conversations about jumps with Rana Reider, Cliff Rovelto, Boo Schexnayder, Jeremy Fischer, Dan Pfaff, Randy Huntington, Doug Case, Kip Janvrin, Mark Napier, and Steve Lynn, to name a few. These, along with reading literature and watching videos from Tom Tellez and many others, have helped me formulate our Arkansas Training Philosophy.
I believe there is a scientific and an artistic side of coaching. It’s important to know your stuff, but also to read your individual athletes and communicate the plan effectively. ~Travis Geopfert
I believe it’s our responsibility as coaches to educate ourselves and decipher quality information that can continue to help our athletes progress in the sport. I have learned that having a plan is a necessity, from both the above-mentioned jumps coaches, and numerous other coaches including Chris Bucknam here at Arkansas. However, being able to adapt on the fly and make adjustments based on numerous variables is equally important.
I believe there is a scientific and an artistic side of coaching. It’s important to know your stuff, but also to read your individual athletes and communicate the plan effectively. It’s our job as coaches to “think” and communicate in such a way that enables our athletes to trust the process and just go “do.”
Dan Pfaff: I was hugely influenced by my first major mentor, Tom Tellez, so a lot of my fundamental programming concepts came from the way he trained sprinter/jumper combo athletes. During the first 10-15 years of my career, I collected and reverse-engineered training systems from around the world delivered by guys in my evolving network. The bulk of this research was in the late ’70s and all of the ’80s, so pharmacy factors were huge at the time and they heavily influenced the designs, volumes, intensities, and density patterns used in those systems. To surf that issue, a concerted effort was made to study junior and youth-level programming from those countries to establish fundamental curves of load and progression.
I have always worked with multiple event disciplines, large numbers, small support staffs, etc., so I had to evolve systems that addressed these variables. Access to facilities, liability issues, and the cooperation of support staff also influenced the evolution. Time, wisdom, experiences, great athletes, injuries, failed hypotheses, network information, research, and divine intervention have all led me to our current formats. We still tweak and experiment, but not as much as when I was a younger, clueless coach.
In general, we do no GPP-type phases and start out with what folks would most likely call SPP. We use two-week load cycles with the third week an unload on density pattern. We shift to one week on, one week off during the indoor season and then move to a three-day rollover cycle for the outdoor competitive season. We identify KPIs during the preseason induction meetings, rank them in a hierarchy, develop strategies for monitoring and adjustment of these generational factors, and then go to work. It is fluid and athlete-driven. It is deeply tied to sports medicine findings at all times.
The weekly format is fairly common throughout the year. We do acceleration work, power conversion exercises, and a moderate weight room scheme on Mondays. Tuesdays find us doing jump-specific work, various plyometric exercises, and then a shift to parasympathetic work with circuits and special strength exercises. Wednesday is a speed or running technique day, followed by power conversion exercises or plyometrics, and finished off with our most demanding weight room session of the week. Thursday is often an active rest, therapy-driven day, although early in the year many athletes will do designed recovery training. Friday is a jump technique day, followed by throwing power exercises, and then a monitor-driven weight room session. Saturday is an alactic/run technique day for us, with extensive work capacity exercises done post running. We take Sundays off.
Nic Petersen: Typically, Monday is an acceleration day consisting of anywhere from 10m to 40m, but we may go out further depending on the athlete and time of year. This is followed by either a med ball throw series or a simple plyometric exercise.
Tuesday is a mix of technique and speed. We typically do some type of approach development on Tuesdays, followed by a short run technique session. This may be short run long jump, etc. Then we finish with a few absolute speed runs; maybe fly 30m or something similar.
Wednesday is a recovery day. We do an easy jog and strides, most the time in approach rhythm. And we do some restorative work here: yoga, balance, and trigger point therapy.
On Thursday, we come back and do another combination day, with approach work and a technique session followed by some speed. This tends to be a bit longer, but it depends on what we did Monday and Tuesday.
Friday is typically our tempo day. We do this on grass. A lot of times we do circuits as rest.
Jeremy Fischer: My setup for training is very athlete-specific. One athlete may have more or a European setup, and another may have a more typical American setup. USATF coaching education was an early influence on my coaching. They were the first ones to show me that there were different training styles than my college system. They gave me the science and answers to why and how we did things. These names include Boo Schexnayder, Dan Pfaff, Vince Anderson, Dennis Shaver, Vern Gambetta, Gary Winkler, and Cliff Rovelto. Book influences were Bompa, Gambetta, Freeman, and McFarlane.The art of coaching shows in the variability of training used athlete to athlete, year to year. Click To Tweet
As I grew as a coach, I wanted to know more and learn different thought processes. I started talking to foreign coaches and visiting their training facilities and watching their practices. I watched the Cubans train in Puerto Rico for three days, spent a few days with Wolfgang Ritzdorf at the Cologne Sports Institute, had dinner with Franz Bosch, and talked with and spent time with Nelio Mauro. This gave me a different perspective and I saw how training can vary with the art of coaching—the variability of training we use from athlete to athlete and year to year.
David Kerin: I am a continuing ed student at the Tellez/Pfaff/Schexnayder School of Jumps. From that base, I then apply my experience. My views on training are most traditional in the fall. As the year progresses, I shift away from strict adherence to more commonly accepted work and phasing during indoor and early outdoors. I like to see athletes do just enough traditional work in the weight room to maintain strength levels gained to that point. Testing is important here to determine whether a given strength level has dropped off. Like Dan P’s “Three Day Rollovers,” I believe you can maintain levels with minimal lifting as long as it’s specific.
Between indoor and outdoor, with timing dependent on the length and goals of the outdoor season, I like to remediate to bring strength back up when decline is observed. Back to indoors—I am not a fan of the collegiate, almost-every-weekend competition cycle, and its effect on training and health. I believe in as late a start to indoor competition as possible, and as little indoor competition as possible. The nature and quality of training and adaptation is far better. I will leave more specific periodization and session descriptions to my more distinguished fellow Roundtable participants. My observation is that, once the competition schedule begins, technical components in the athletes’ jumping become harder to adjust.
I believe in as late a start to indoor competition as possible, and as little indoor competition as possible. ~David Kerin
Full approach jumping is impactful, and competition jumping is even more so. Once competition begins, training setup should take this into account, particularly in spring and summer. More specifically, think about recovery time. In the U.S., we have been very good at making people tired; we have only recently started to get better at building them back up.
As for the comparison of U.S. vs. European training models, I believe both have their merits. Rather than thinking that you must reside in only one camp, consider that either could be a sound option for individual athletes at any given time. This could also be viewed as a response to either method by gender, and further, that the deciding factors are health, recovery to maintain it, and travel/competition demands. Between the two models, I generally favor keeping high intensity work bundled by day as opposed to distributed across a week. However, there is merit to the idea of playing with its distribution, particularly when tempering a jumper for an Olympic trial or international competition’s Q round and finals on separate days.
Nick Newman: Dan Pfaff and Boo Schnexnayder have influenced my training philosophy the most. I have spent time with and/or conversed with many other coaching greats over the past 10 or so years as well. The likes of Randy Huntington, Tudor Bompa, John Crotty, Jeremy Fischer, Pete Stanley, Gary Bourne, and Nelio Moura must be mentioned, as they have all personally shared their knowledge with me.
Early in my athletic career, I spent a great deal of time dissecting and experimenting with the training programs of many coaches. Although this likely hurt my career as a jumper, it helped my coaching career tremendously. This, along with endless reading and observing of great coaches and athletes, has served as the basis of my philosophy on all aspects of programming and coaching. Over the years, my beliefs evolved into the training system that I use today.
In a nutshell, my training philosophy can be described as holistic, adaptive, and specific.
Generally, I use a high dose of specific training all year, with each component of the program carefully progressed from specific to ultra-specific. I use three-step loading patterns throughout the preparation period. The first phase of training is four weeks in length, using forward step loading with a drop-in load during the fourth week. As specificity increases, we remain with forward step loading but switch to three-week phases with a drop-in load occurring every third week. During ultra-specific or specialized training phases, we use a four-week phase with a reverse step-loading pattern and decreasing loads from weeks two through four.
Throughout the preparation mesocycle, the weekly setup stays fairly consistent. Mondays are inertia days with accelerations, bounding, and moderate to heavy weights. Tuesday is a technical jumps, drills, and circuit day. Wednesday is speed and power development. Thursday is technical or pool recovery work. Friday is resisted or assisted speed, assisted jumps, and special weight training. Saturday is extensive and intensive tempo, or speed endurance, endurance bounding, and circuits. Sunday is rest.
Competition phases see extremely flexible and individual-based programming. Generally speaking, competition weeks will see a neuromuscular heavy hitter day, a couple of general recovery days, and a technical focus day.
M Acc – MaxS
T Speed – UbS
W Speed endurance (ASSE or GSSE) or temp – Rest
Th As Monday, with small variations – Rest
F Jumps day – Power
Sa Long speed endurance (SE)
Brian Brillon: I use alternating neuro days followed by a general themed day of training. I would say that I have been more influenced in the training pedagogy by Boo Schexnayder, Dan Pfaff, Mike Young, and Vern Gambetta. I have found that this type of training works best with the goals that need to be met in the collegiate setting. There are occasions that we have had to bend the rules due to schedules, but if you can foresee these conflicts, it is important to budget your week correctly in training.
For instance, in a typical week, Monday will be neuro followed by a general day. We would typically see acceleration modalities done on Monday, with technique and general themes set for Tuesday. If I do runways on a Tuesday, I will budget my Monday practice with volume to complement the runways on Tuesday. I try to think of the “train today so that you can train tomorrow” mantra when writing sessions.
The first week in the four-week cycle would see a technical-themed week, followed by a speed week, then an endurance/work capacity week, and ending with a rest/test week. I have found that this rotational system worked well at all the levels I have coached. It keeps the athlete able to express the power outputs important for the event, without many overtraining symptoms. I want the athlete to always feel that the base of their training is speed and power.
I follow a short-to-long philosophy with the training of speed. Before I coached them, some of my athletes had coaches who used the long-to-short philosophy in their training of speed, and they never felt like they gained speed. Some athletes felt it was just a grind to see how many reps and sets they could do. When they became aware of their speed capabilities earlier in the year, these athletes felt that they achieved more beneficial training and saw greater successes.