MY JOURNEY BACK TO SQUATS

MY JOURNEY BACK TO SQUATS

“We have met the enemy, and he is us!”                   [Walt Kelly – cartoonist]*

In my athletic/sporting history I’ve not been very fond of Squats as an exercise…with or without a bar on my shoulders. I did find a certain fondness for overloaded partial Squats that enabled me to avoid Full or Power Squats. My tactics for avoidance came about because I couldn’t do them. Others around me were racking up weights and getting into positions that made me quiver. For me, as soon as I approached 90deg I hit a balance point, my legs locked and any further attempt resulted in painful knee and ankle contortions. With Partial Squats (and what we termed ‘High Jump Squats’) I felt I could shoulder as much weight as was available in our gym.

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My Coaching Eye

My Coaching Eye

At a workshop one of the pre-scripted aims was to enhance the ‘coaching eye’ of the participants…a statement made without clarifying what the coaching eye was or did. There was a brief time where I had a chance to speak to a good sized group and I presented them with a challenge: using your coaching eye how might you help this athlete (demonstrator they had all watched) achieve the raw speed required for higher performance levels…what things might you focus on?

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THE SHAPE of THINGS, and GOODBYE to GERARD

THE SHAPE of THINGS, and GOODBYE to GERARD

Recently, the word ‘shape’ has crept into the everyday language of coach-coach and coach-athlete interactions. It has done so in such a way that people outside of sport might be confused as to the meaning.  Yet, on public television, a commentator was using the term ‘shape’ repeatedly in reference to athlete movements during a world championship event. Clearly, this was not ‘shape’ as it used to be used. Previously ‘shape’ was used in reference to fitness, as in ‘she appears to be in good shape’.

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I…AM…NOT…AN…INJURY!

I…AM…NOT…AN…INJURY!

As a young athlete, I started well enough and then began to suffer injuries. It seemed that I staggered from one lower leg mishap to the other over many years. Along the way I became known as the kid with the ‘bad ankles’. In hindsight I accept a good portion of that situation as my own doing, although I would not ever have admitted it at the time.

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The Joys of Distraction

The Joys of Distraction

Every year I am approached by parents (and team manager on a membership drive) shuttling a young teenager towards the jumps areas. Their mission is to give their son or daughter a few tips prior to the school competitive season. The usual banter recounts how they seemed to do well at the school event and are now heading for a regional meet; can I help? I ask when the big event is… ‘This Friday’ is a typical response.

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Scrambled Advantages

Scrambled Advantages

Within all sports that contain stop-start, quick direction changes and zero-to-max demands is the skill of being able to scramble. While the origins of the word scramble relate to jumbles and stumbles, the use of the word has also come to mean being able move with immediate action and avoiding trouble (as with jets and quarterbacks).

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Takeoff's 'Hopping Mad!' EXCLUSIVELY in Athletics Weekly

Takeoff's 'Hopping Mad!' EXCLUSIVELY in Athletics Weekly

Check out Takeoff's latest article published in last week Athletics Weekly - 'Hopping Mad!'

The hop is a critically important movement skill for any sport that requires ground speed. The word ‘hop’ is a tad mixed up because kangaroos, bunnies and even grasshoppers purportedly hop when in fact they actually leap.

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…OF WHIPS AND CHAINS (AND FEET)

…OF WHIPS AND CHAINS (AND FEET)

Observations from my youth… in our neighbourhood there was a public pool that was elbow to elbow on hot summer days. I don’t know where the skill originated but many of us learned to expertly fold long beach towels into tapered whips that could be used to snap at others’ exposed parts. Anyone caught making such a weapon was expelled from the pool as these were obviously dangerous and could be injurious (something our young minds didn’t consider)...

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Walk Before You Run

Walk Before You Run

Most of us take walking for granted and do not see it as much of an exercise compared to say a plyometric session with 150 intense landings. Almost all of us have forgotten that as toddlers we had to go through an impressive sequence of developmental learning to get from bumming around to crawling to walking (to bolting out the door)...

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Stairs Sprints/Stadium Sprints and Other Animals

Stairs Sprints/Stadium Sprints and Other Animals

Some time ago I was coaching jumpers in a shared facility that was also being used by a group of adult rugby players. At the time they were doing some kind of speed-agility circuit work that went from exercise to exercise with little rest. Two of the elements caught my attention: stair sprints and running quickly on the spot...

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The Incline Sprint Drill

The Incline Sprint Drill

If you take a look at the illustration you can see a common exercise used as part of sprint development, particularly in relation to the drive phase after the start. It belongs in a family of related incline exercises such as hill sprints, stairs, sled pulling and pushing, scrambles and short blast exercises using blocking dummies etc...

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Dynamic Posture and Mini Hurdles

Dynamic Posture and Mini Hurdles

There was a time when I thought I might explore hurdling as an event. I was young and there was no coaching so I dragged hurdles up into school hallways after students had vanished and tried to figure out what to do. I eventually managed to get a copy of the ‘Hurdlers Bible’ by Wilbur Ross and that gave me the one-step and half-hurdle drills.

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The Probability Of Success

The Probability Of Success

The workshop was over, the goodbyes and handshakes finished, and participants were beginning to scatter to the winds. There had been many other groups sharing the facility and I always find it interesting that I don’t really see them when I’m concentrating on a presentation. As I shouldered my equipment and walked away from the jumps area I noticed a small group of teenage athletes, sprinters perhaps, lining up to do what appeared to be hurdle drills...

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Bench Steps or Step Ups

Bench Steps or Step Ups

f you give the illustration a quick glance you will see a common training exercise used for fitness and sport. Bench Steps, with or without a load or offset is not a core TAKEOFF exercise but does have high value for mobility and motor patterning. The illustration is taken from an actual situation where the athlete (a runner) was instructed to do 3 sets of 8 reps with each leg....

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The Feet Never Leave the Programme

The Feet Never Leave the Programme

As we move around on our feet our base of support is a small malleable pad of soft and hard tissues. If we stand on two feet the base of support is wider than on one; being distributed between the two. There are ongoing messages of sensation and adjustment between the feet and brain that are trained and mapped over time....

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When You Run Up a Hill

When You Run Up a Hill

Within the group of young middle distance/XC runners I trained with long ago there was a maxim we applied to hill training: ‘When you run up the hill the wind is in your face. And when you run down the hill the wind is in your face.’ It was a bit of group humour injected to assuage the shared discomfort, some say pain, even torture, of doing hill intervals....

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A Running Attitude

A Running Attitude

A long time ago I had the great fortune to listen to Gerard Mach during his years in Canada. He was a sprint guru and sprint coach who had systematised leg dynamic drills into A’s, B’s and C’s that were done regularly as preparation drills. His main purpose in using such drills was to develop what he termed ‘sprint posture’. I must confess right now that I completely missed that point......

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