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Drills and Warm Ups

Drills and Warm Ups

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Published by Jared Deacon
Article by Jared Deacon for coaches on the developemnt of athletes through warm ups and running drills.
Article by Jared Deacon for coaches on the developemnt of athletes through warm ups and running drills.

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Published by: Jared Deacon on Dec 26, 2010
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Drills and Warm Ups
By Jared Deacon
Although the traditional warm up includes running related drills and skills, the coach doesn’talways take the opportunity to make the most of this time with their athletes. This is in terms of both coaching input and developing the athlete, not just technically, but physically as well. Thisphysical development comes in the form of increasing their working capacity through utilisingthis portion of the training session where “it is training, disguised as a warm up”. This quotationcomes from Loren Seagrave who is a well known visitor to the UK having delivered severalworkshops, keynotes speeches and conference sessions over the last couple of years. Loren’sability as a coach and coach educator is fantastic and many of the drills and session formatswhich are now being utilised across the country are influenced by the work that Loren has beendoing with coaches in the UK.Before we get to running drills and their application to training and technical development, let’slook at the warm up as a whole and what emphasis could and should be placed on it. Manycoaches based in clubs will site a lack of time for the non-inclusion of seemingly new exercises,techniques and ideas, this is a valid point and one which allows an answer where no excuses canthen be forthcoming - planning. Planning allows many different elements to be fitted into onetraining session by using one unit of training to prepare for the next. Careful planning allows theathletes to get through many different forms and types of training in the one session with thewarm up acting as a vital catalyst to this process and setting up the rest of the session. The warm up should include exercises which will not only physically ‘warm up’ or
thetemperature of the working muscles and body as a whole, but allow suitable levels of neuromuscular
around key joints,
of key muscles and ranges of motionand
or priming the muscles. This can be referred to as a ‘
warm up – Raise,Activate, Mobilise, Potentiate. In an article published by Ian Jeffreys in the UKSCA Journal in June2007 he argues the case that this new classification of warm up can provide a framework aroundwhich to design warm ups for training and competition. It has been described as ‘movementpreparation’ which would make sense in what the warm up is designed to achieve – prepare thebody to optimally perform the movements of the upcoming activities. This means that exercise selection and routine of the warm up needs to tick each RAMP box aswell as go from lower to higher intensity and go from general to more specific exercise selection.A key paragraph from the Jeffreys article states, “ To this end, planning of the warm up is asimportant as planning the main session itself. By carefully selecting activities, the warm-up cancontribute greatly to the overall training programme, and should be in balance with the aim of the session, and the aim of the programme. To facilitate this, activities can be chosen whichcontribute to the aims of the overall session, and contribute to the aims of the given trainingcycle. In this way, a well planned warm-up is an extremely time effective method of including anumber of key elements within a training programme, elements which may not be able to beincluded if they have to entail their own specific time frame. Most warm-ups will last from 10-30minutes. Over a training cycle, that contributes a massive amount of training time, which, witheffective planning, can be used to work productively on a range of areas, without increasing theoverall training load.” Time and energy usage is therefore an important aspect of this type of warm up. As coaches weall follow this pattern in some way, shape or form, but the questions are: could it be better?Could it be more efficient? Could I achieve more from it?Going back to Loren Seagrave then, how does this relate to his philosophy? As mentioned earlier‘disguising training as a warm up’ allows more productive work to be done. The exercises whichcan be chosen within the warm up sequence can be rotated to develop an increasingly largetechnical and physical skill base. The warm up can made longer or shorter depending on thetime of year and particular needs of the athlete. The clever bit is using the warm up and beingable to gradually increase the amount of work done in the warm up which adds to the athletes‘working capacity’. This term is something which coaches are familiar with, and whether or notthey use it in their coaching vocabulary, it is something that they are all trying to assist theirathletes in achieving – the ability to adapt and handle more training – this may be in volume of training, intensity of training or in general ability to perform exercise. The warm up can therefore
provide some basis for this to occur by inclusion of a wide variety of physical and technicalchallenges before the athlete performs the main part or subsequent parts of the session. Oftencoaches look at developing capacity through pushing their athletes further and harder in thetrack work alone. This can be damaging at a young age and doesn’t assist in developing the allround abilities required at a young age as part of the developmental process of the athlete. Take this thought a stage further. If the working capacity is assisted in being developed as partof the warm up routine, and not solely as part of the running session, then this means therunning session doesn’t need to be as long, large or difficult. It means it can be more qualityorientated - quality in terms of the speed the athletes can run and the technique they canperform the session with. Let’s bring in someone from outside of the coaching world to back upand promote this way of thinking. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying “Give me six hours tochop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” By allowing the athletes todo the right physical and technical work and skill based exercises in the warm up routine we aresharpening the axe in readiness to perform at the optimum level. It might take a bit more timeand effort on both the athletes and coaches’ part, but look at the potential benefits in both theshort and long term development of your athletes.Some practical examples:Female U17 80m Hurdles athlete. Trains 2/3 times per week.Example session – Duration 90mins
2 laps Jog and Skip
Activation and Mobilisation exercises from warm up sheet (see below)
Hurdle Walkover exercises 4/5 exercises over 6/8 hurdles increasing speed and specificityof movements
Weightlifting Skills – bar drills learning basic of squats and Olympic lifts
Running & Coordination Drills – 4/5 drills over 15-30m mixing in running strides betweendrills or drill directly into stride
Accelerations over 15-25m from various starting positions
Hurdling – some skills work with isolation and 5 strides followed by 3 stride runs over 3-6hurdles with adjusted spacings
Speed Endurance – using short distances with short recoveries eg 3x60m with 60secrecovery repeated 2 times with 8-12mins recovery Then either:
Med Ball Throws Circuit – power development
Core Circuit – general strength exercises for trunk
Barbell weights – slightly slower and heavier exercises not done pre-running eg squats,lunges with light barbell
Would you believe we can get through this in 90 minutes?
Where does the warm up end and thesession begin? By being planned it is a pretty straightforward process and the athlete will alwaysget through 7-9 different units of work within the session. A lot of time spent sharpening the axe– but when she runs, she runs fast and has the recoveries required to allow this to happen. This is week 1 of the training year in October 2010 which my group of athletes completed. Theyare aged 18+ and have some training history – normally 2-4 years. Many of the athletes in week1 I had not yet met or coached.
Each day they did some jogging and skipping at the start of the session includingmultidirectional jogs, crossovers, backwards etc.
 This was followed by a small number of set mobilisation and activation exercises whichthey were coached in as they learned the techniques.
 Then they performed various running and coordination drills which they were taught andcoached in.
On one day I introduced some skipping drills with a skipping rope, on another the verybasic low level pre-cursor drills to plyometrics. On another day I did some basic physicalcompetency testing. On another i introduced some technique for acceleration startpositions.
 This was followed by some basic tempo runs of 100m to 200m on the track or grass with atotal volume of about 1500m – 1800m.
Finally they finished with flexibility and foam roller.
What did this do for the athletes?
Allowed them to touch on several different aspects they will beusing in the coming weeks of training and learn many of the techniques they will be using.
What did this do for me as the coach?
Allowed me to assess each athlete. This was eitherformally with testing, or informally with observation of their movements on the variousactivation and mobilisation exercises, as well as the running drills. I got to learn what I had towork with!At the end of the week I handed the athletes the sheet below and talked through it as their warmup routine. By this point they knew all the exercises and were ready to start using them. Iwouldn’t say its definitive and it’s certainly a work in progress and will change with newexercises as I see where changes are needed and learn new exercises to put into the routines tokeep it moving forward and fresh and challenging.Seehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5qQI5LIvtcfor a video of some of the possible exercisesthat can be used. The sequencing of the RAMP warm up allows the athletes to mix and match exercises whichactivate, potentiate or mobilise while at the same time increasing temperature of the muscles. Towards the end of a warm up section the more specific exercises can be done. For tracksessions these will be the running drills. They will more specifically activate, potentiate andmobilise to finish off the process of working towards the optimum speed, intensity and range of motion required for the running activities.All of the drills should have a purpose and the athletes should learn where they fit with regardsto the movement patterns they are looking to develop, progress and refine. Drills in themselveswill not make the athletes a more efficient running machine. The application of the drills and adeliberate transfer into running performance is what is required in order to be successful. Toooften drills are left as a separate entity, worked on in isolation. This is not a successful method if improved execution of running performance is to be gained from a skill transfer from drills. There is some debate about the relative value of doing drills and their transfer and thereforeimpact on running performance. My opinion is that a well thought out choice of drills, performedregularly with coaching input and a speedy transfer into running will get the best results.Athletes will learn what to do, how to do it and where it applies to running performance a lotbetter with coaching input and athlete education.Some key positions to consider when performing drills:
Foot dorsiflexion – early dorsiflexion after toe off and maintenance of dorsiflexion throughthe recovery phase.
 Triple flexion versus triple extension synchronised triple flexion of the ankle(dorsiflexion), knee and hip will bring the knee forward quickly while at the same timegetting the heel under the hips to maximise the amount of flexion without too much‘backside’ mechanics. Triple extension is the opposite where force is imparted to theground through a powerful extension of the ankle, knee and hip. This is where the‘stiffness’ of the joints is required and this can be rehearsed in drills.
Optimal knee height and shin angle – the knee coming through to a position in front of thehips and the lower leg following through and opening out to the point where the shin isperpendicular to the floor.For further information on running mechanics see resources available on ucoach www.uka.org.uk/coaching Therefore drills which prepare the foot for ground contact, those which promote triple flexionand extended joint stiffness and rehearse the optimum angles of the hip and shin should be the

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