Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From the Archives - High Jump Practice

Here is a note from Joan to Theresa from Jun 9, 2003, describing the first group high jump practice:

Tried tagging with high jump yesterday. It was good. We used it during individual jumps when they raised their non-jumping knee to waist level during the take-off. They all did it correctly on the first turn - the coach was very impressed. Then we raised the bar 2 inches (still at a low height that they can all clear) and they fell apart. More than half of them forgot about the knee drive and then they improved after a couple of turns. Major mental component with high jump - the bar is very intimidating. All the kids have got the basic idea of throwing themselves backward over the bar - which is very impressive because it is not easy and they had only had one practice before this. 

Next practice we will work on having them straighten out the knee that they bent. Now that they are into the idea of bending the knee they keep it bent all the way through the jump and this causes their backs to roll rather than arch. We will tag them for straightening the non-jumping leg after the inital knee drive and hopefully this will cause them to be in laid out position as they go over the bar. Then we can work on the arch. 

There are about 16 kids and only 2 half hour practices left before the meet. Even with tagging there is is not nearly enough time to develop all the aspects of the skill. According to what I have read on the internet, 90% of high jump technique is in the curved run and take-off. The athlete is supposed to run a curve for the last 5 strides that is part of a perfect circle (radius to be determined for each individual on the basis of stride length), while leaning into the circle so that at the takeoff the athlete is leaning away from the bar. The translation of power from the curved approach to the vertical jump is supposed to result in the spin in the axis perpendicular to the bar that results in the body going over the bar backwards without specific effort put into the spin. Try explaining this to an 8 year old! I think we will have to use cones to delineate the approach, since most of them (except Jennifer and a couple of the older boys) want to run straight rather than a curve. The coach put up one cone (there were no others available) for them to run around and many of them ignored it and went on the wrong side. The coach was very nice and patient with them. 

As always there are quite a few gymnasts on the team and they were very happy to see me with a clicker! I definitely notice that, like dogs, kids become "clicker wise" and learn faster than naive kids. Some of the kids have now been tagged for gymnastics, volleyball, long jump and high jump and these kids catch on much faster than the others. Of course the gymnasts have super body awareness and coachability, so this is probably also a major factor.

Here is a video showing the final tagging protocol we used for high jump: