Tuesday, 19 April 2011


The long jump is an explosive event in which speed, rhythm, coordination and consistency are essential.

There are five general objectives to keep in mind while training for and performing the long jump:

  1. Your speed at take-off
  2. Your angle of take-off
  3. The height of the centre of your mass at take-off
  4. Controlling tour balance and rotations
  5. An efficient landing
Keep in mind that although these objectives are individual, they must be grouped into a whole and they are generally dependent upon each other. It is often noticeable that when one of these components changes, something else either has changed or will change too. If there is a problem with one component of the jump, it is usually the result of the preceding component.

The long jump consists of four phases:
  1. Approach/run up phase
  2. The take-off phase
  3. The flight phase
  4. The landing phase

The approach/run up phase

The aim of the approach/run up is to achieve a good, controllable velocity. Here, you must find your ideal speed, this will be the maximum velocity you can control without sacrificing distance or technique, too quick and you won't be able to control your take-off and too slow and you won't be able to convert your speed into distance. Once you have your ideal speed you will need to work on your rhythm. A good running rhythm will ensure accuracy on your approach to the board. Next you must establish your run up length. Your run up should be long enough to allow you to obtain your ideal speed but short enough so you don't fatigue before you reach the take-off board. Your run up length is dependent on your age, speed and conditioning level. Keep in mind this is a guideline and not set in stone.

               Age    =    Strides

Under 11     =    11
Under 13     =    13
Under 15     =    15
Under 17     =    17
Over 17     =    21

The start of your run up should be marked and it is advisable to always start your run up from a stationary position. A stationary start will ensure that your initial 3 steps, which are crucial to your run up accuracy, are consistent and exact on every run up. You should begin your run up leaning forward to achieve greater velocity from your standing start; however, just before you hit the take-off board you should be upright. You should be sprinting on the balls of your feet with your head in a natural position, your eyes focussed beyond the pit and not on the take-off board.

Determining the take-off foot:

Stand with your back to the jumping pit and the heel of your non take-off foot on the take-off board scratch line

Run up the runway the required number of strides, say 19, and have a friend or coach spot your 19th stride and place a marker there.

Place the non-take-off foot on the marker and run back towards the board and take-off. The coach should note where the 17th stride lands in relationship to the take-off board.

If the foot is behind the take-off board, say 15cm, then move the start marker 15cm forward. If the foot is beyond the take-off board then move the marker back.

Repeat the run up and marker adjustment 4 or 5 times to establish a consistent approach run onto the take-off board.

Once achieved measure the distance accurately and record it for future use.

It is important to bear in mind that a head or tail wind will affect the run up. A head wind may mean moving the marker slightly forward.

Take-off phase

The preparation for the take-off begins late in the run up phase. This is done by sinking your hips and then raising your hips into the take-off phase. Your second last stride is usually longer than normal and your last stride, at which you make contact with the board, is always shorter than normal. The hip sink and stride length adjustment are crucial responses by the athlete in preparation for the take-off. Ensure that the hips are slightly forward of the shoulders at take-off. The take-off foot should be slightly ahead of the hips and should strike the board on the mid line.

The final two steps in the run up should be flat, slapping contacts.

The vertical impulse is achieved by the upward acceleration of the "free" limbs, the arms and the non-take-off leg, against the braced take off leg. These movements should be characterised by fast explosive actions.

The head should be carried in a normal position, in line with the spine, and the eyes should be focused forward and slightly up and not on the take-off board.


Flight phase

It is important here to control your body. You must control the rotational forces of your body to ensure your flight phase is as long as possible and that you do not over or under rotate as this will result in a loss of distance. Over rotate will cause you to lean forward hitting the ground with your feet to early and under rotating will cause you to lean back making you fall flat on you bum resulting in a loss of distance.

You can make use of 3 techniques to optimize your flight phase:

The Stride Jump

In the stride jump style the you maintain the take-off position for as long as possible and only as you come into land does the take-off leg join the free leg for a good landing position.

The Hang Style

On take-off you drop the free leg to the vertical, which is then joined by the take-off leg. The arms go overhead to slow down the rotation about the athlete's centre of gravity. The legs are then lifted upwards and forwards whilst lower the trunk. The arms swing past the legs during the landing phase to ensure a good leg shoot.

The Hitch-Kick

Following take off your free leg is straightened and swung back and down as the take-off leg folds up beneath the hips and comes forward bent. The take-off leg then continues forward, straightening for landing. Your free leg completes its backward swing behind the hip and then folds up and moves forwards bent, to join the take-off leg ready for landing

The landing phase

Following the flight phase is the landing phase. Here, your heels will need to land just before the projected flight path to ensure that you do not fall back into the sand resulting in a loss of distance. As your feet make contact with the sand, press the heels downwards and contract the hamstrings causing the hips to rise. As your hips rise twist them to one side and allow the forward momentum to carry the body past the landing position.

Armant Goldswain

Sunday, 10 April 2011



FULL NAME: Shelley Kim RussellHOMETOWN: Not too sure if it is Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Ghent!CLUB TEAM: Gantoise in Ghent, or Western Province Cricket Club in Cape Town. SHIRT NUMBER: 10

What position do you usually play and what is your preferred position?

Since moving from striker into the midfield (left link) at Gantoise, I have enjoyed the change. I have also started playing at link for South Africa, so they must be happy with my play in that position. I miss running into the circle from striker or right wing, but I am able to do more work in defence from midfield.
How many caps for SA?

98 (and hopefully counting!)

Favourite other sport?

At school I played tennis, squash, swimming and even athletics. I prefer ball sports. We come from a very sporting family, so I enjoy watching the sports my brothers played as well, being rugby and cricket
How many hours a week do you train?

The South African squad is on a structured, monitored programme, so I have to do various gym, running and sprint work over and above my club training. I usually train approximately 3-6 hours per day.

If you were to describe your style of play, what would it be?

I am generally an attacking type of player, and like to run at defences. My role in the past has been to carry the ball into the circle, and create as much panic as possible in defences. I have won a fair share of penalty corners for sides that I have played for.

What are the strengths of your game?

I believe that my strongest asset is speed over short distances, and acceleration. I also tend to get myself fit fairly quickly, so am able to maintain a fair work-rate throughout the match.
Weaknesses (If any....)?

I would say that I haven’t scored as many goals in my career as I should have, preferring to set up others to shoot at goal, so you could say that one of my weaknesses is “finishing off.”
What do you spend most time working on at training, if there is anything particular?

My ball-control has improved over the past few years, which is a result of hours and hours of repetitive stick-work training. Having said that, there are also many hours spent on pure fitness.

What is your favourite hockey memory and when was this?

Nerves prevented me from remembering much of my international debut (against India in 2006 – my first year out of school.) I would say the big tournaments stand out, such as my two Hockey World Cups ( Madrid in 2006, and Rosario last year) and of course it doesn’t come much bigger than being at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Generally I love touring and tournaments, and seeing different countries all over the world through hockey, has been very special.
And your worst memory?

I went through a really hard time with a lower-back injury, which kept me out of hockey for six months just prior to the Olympics in 2008. Getting back into contention for selection was really tough, and then on the eve of departing for the Olympics, I thought that I was coming down with acute appendicitis. I was in deep despair, but had hundreds of very special family and friends praying for me. Many say it was a miracle that I made it to Beijing!  I was bitterly disappointed not to be selected for the Commonwealth Games in India last year – one of my career goals, but sport is just part of life, with many ups and downs.
How do you rate SA's chances of gaining good results at the 2012 Olympics?

At this point in time, SA is still only ranked 12th in the world, so based on that, we shouldn’t be considered contenders. However, in December we took a game off Argentina, the world champs, and this year won a series against China, ranked 4 in the world, so we are getting more competitive against top teams. We go to our Champs Challenge tournament in Ireland in June, and have to do well there in order to be considered to be sent to the London Olympics as part of Team SA. It is not merely a matter of qualifying for the Olympics as African champs – our Olympic Committee only wants to send genuinely competitive athletes and teams to the Olympics. As a team, we know our work is cut out for us.

Over the past few months SA hockey has had tremendously good results, what do you think is the main reason for this and why?

Many people back home attribute this entirely to the appointment of a new coach, Giles Bonnet. Certainly he has brought new ideas and thinking to the setup, but I feel there is a combination of factors. There is a good blend of exuberant youth, with broad experience mixed into the squad. The return from retirement of our main striker, Pietie Coetzee, who is closing in on the world record of 220 international goals, has made a huge difference to the belief within the squad. Generally, everyone seems to be lifting their individual games and contributing to the group dynamic. A huge factor in our resurgence has been with Investec coming on board as our team sponsor. Suddenly we are able to do so much more in terms of training camps, hosting tournaments, bringing in training consultants etc.

Do you think that T.V. coverage and the profile of the game is improving?

I can only really comment on the South African situation, where hockey has always been a bit of a Cinderella sport, taking a back seat to the more popular sports of football (soccer), rugby and cricket. Certainly over the past six months or so, the profile of hockey has improved, with match results being reported in the media, and highlights package programmes being aired.

Do you think good results correlates to this?

Definitely a winning culture generates support amongst the public. We have seen this just from crowd support at matches, with more and more spectators attending as our recent tournaments progressed.

What do you do outside hockey?

I finished my BA Sports Science degree at Stellenbosch University in 2009, and have been dividing my time between South African and Belgium since then. I am enrolling at University in Ghent, in order to improve my qualifications. I am using the opportunity while based in Ghent to experience new cultures, and to travel as much as possible. I have a brother playing professional rugby in France, and I try to visit his family whenever possible. I have always been an outdoors person, and am learning to swop my water-sport interests (water-skiing, wakeboarding, etc.) for snow skiing. I absolutely love any opportunity to get in some skiing.

How long do you plan to play hockey for?

This is difficult to say, but as it is an amateur sport, I am going to have to settle down to a career at some stage. It would be so much easier if hockey was a professional sport in SA, and one could make a living from it, and plan ahead on that basis. The level of hockey we are aspiring to takes such time commitments. I suppose I will stop playing as soon as I am no longer enjoying what I am doing.
Any advice for aspiring young hockey players?

I can clearly recall as a schoolgirl, setting goals as far as hockey was concerned. I have been most fortunate to have achieved most of those goals. My advice to youngsters, in whatever field they want to achieve, is to dream, and to dream big! Vividly imagine yourself attaining your dreams and goals. We have a family saying : “Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet.” When opportunities arise, you need to be prepared to grab that opportunity. Whenever you train, remind yourself that you are preparing yourself for future opportunities. In that way, you can create your own “luck.” Skill is one thing, but hard work seldom goes unrewarded.
Thank you Shelly for your time,  all the best...
BLOG BY:  Elzanne Jacobs

Monday, 4 April 2011

Water Polo and Your Shoulders

During the game of water polo the shoulder undergoes tremendous forces when throwing as well as fatigue from the amount of swimming throughout the game. In order to help prevent possible injuries as well as overuse injuries the rotator cuff muscles need to be both strong enough to handle the forces involved with throwing, as well as possess the endurance capacity to maintain optimum shoulder stability and movement throughout the match.

The rotator cuff muscles (subscapularis. Supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) serve the important purpose of stabilizing the shoulder as well as performing elevation and rotation of the arm. These muscles often go unnoticed especially when considering ones gym program. The larger muscles are generally focused on primarily with little or no attention paid to the smaller muscles groups such as the rotator cuff muscles. Even though strength of the large muscle groups may be improved it is important to remember that these muscles require proper stability to exert large forces. Without stability of the shoulder the occurrence of an injury is only a matter of time. Thus the inclusion of rotator cuff exercises in your exercise routine is very important.

In order to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles we need to understand the movements they produce. The main movements performed by these muscles are external rotation, internal rotation and horizontal rotation. To visualize these movements think of standing facing forward holding a bottle of water with your elbow by your side at 90 degrees. If you move the bottle of water out to the side of your body you will be performing external rotation, if the bottle is then rotated into your body to touch your torso you would be performing internal rotation. Now imagine holding your arm out to the side with elbows at shoulder level parallel to the ground flexed at 90 degrees (fingers pointing to the ground). If you rotate your arm till your fingers point forwards and your whole arm is parallel to the ground you would be performing horizontal rotation.

In water polo you combine all of these movements many times throughout the game. So how do we ensure stability and strength? Well here is a sample program that may be incorporated into your current program:

  •          Start off with light weights (1-2kg) and progress
  •          Complete 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  •          Exercises may be performed standing as well.

External Rotation:
  •          Using the floor or a bench lie on the opposite side of the arm you will be working.
  •          Start with your elbow flexed at 90degrees while grasping the dumbbell,
  •          Ensure elbow position is maintained by your side and rotate your arm outward maintaining 90 degree flexion.
  •          Lower back to starting position.

Internal Rotation:
  • Using a bench lie on the same side of the arm you will be working.
  • Start with your elbow flexed at 90 degrees and your forearm parallel to the floor.
  • Ensure elbow position is maintained by your side and rotate your arm upward towards your torso maintaining 90 degree flexion.
  • Lower back to starting position.

Horizontal Rotation:
  • Assume standing position with your elbows raised to shoulder level and flexed at 90 degrees.
  • Grasping a dumbbell in each hand rotate your hands up towards the ceiling.
  • Lower to starting position.

Implement these exercises into your routine and look forward to better performance in the pool and ease of mind knowing you are reducing your chance of injury!

Good luck and enjoy your training.

Nicholas Hitchins

Cricket: Reaction speaks louder than words

Anyone else remember that wonder catch from the 2007 Cricket World Cup? But how did he do it?
Reaction time, with a combination of agility and motor response, is key to success in cricket and improving this component during practice sessions can be beneficial. Reaction time accounts for fielding, wicket-keeping and batting with less of an emphasis on bowling except during ‘caught and bowled’ attempts. (Sometimes even umpires need fast reaction times when targeted by irate batsmen) =)))
The first part of reaction is identifying that the ball is actually coming their way.
The second part is to the make the right decision on what to do.
The third part is to initiate the action. The reaction time can be seen as the start of the movement.
Highly skilled professional cricketers show reaction times of around 200 ms (0.200sec)

Reaction is automatic - it's not a conscious process, but it can be improved through practising specific drills:
Reaction ball. They are cheap to buy, easy to slip in your bag and great fun to practice with. You can bat or field with it and it actually works at improving your reaction time.

Double up. During skills practice you can use 2 balls to improve reactions. Get a partner to hold a red and white ball out at shoulder height. He drops them both and calls out a colour. You have to catch the colour he calls.
Get fit. General fitness has been shown to improve reaction times significantly. So if you are not already training (and if you read this blog and don't train you should be ashamed) get into the gym.
Concentrate. The more focused you are on the task, the quicker your reactions. That said, it's impossible to concentrate for long periods without rest, so make the most of breaks in play between overs.

So how do you compare to professional cricketers reaction times? Perform a simple test by clicking the link below to find out.

The physical aspect (agility and motor response) is actually getting to the ball in the field or hitting it to the boundary if you’re batting. If you're not quick enough, you're not going to catch the ball or hit the ball respectively, no matter how fast your mental reaction is.

This is the area that separates the elite professional from the average person. The player has to have his eyes on the ball, which requires a high level of visual accuracy to actually concentrate their vision on a small object moving very, very quickly. The player has to know where their body, in particular where their hands (or extension of hands in the form of the bat), are in space and time and to coincide their hands or bat with the actual flight of the ball.

The ability to coincide his hands (or bat) in the right place at the right time to meet the ball in its flight path is called "coincidence timing".
Specific training can help improve actions and reactions, meaning the fielder and batsmen can pick up the ball quicker and respond adequately.

We will discuss specific training techniques in future posts. To end off have a look at this clip showing reaction time in baseball – a sport that closely mimics the reactions required in cricket when a batsmen faces a fast bowler.
McLeod P, 1987, "Visual reaction time and high-speed ball games" Perception 16(1) 49 -59
BBC Sport

Cricket: Long race to the final

The Cricket World Cup 2011 has just ended after 6 weeks (yes 6 weeks) of cricket on the sub-continent with the trophy finally ending up in the hands of the Indian cricket team. At least one South African can say they've held the World Cup Trophy aloft. ;-)
Research has shown that the physiological demands of cricket are relatively mild, with the most demands on fast bowlers.  The demands of cricket are intermittent in nature with ‘spells’ of high intensity activity interspersed with prolonged periods of active rest.
Time-motion analysis of batsmen, fast bowlers, fielders, spin bowlers and wicketkeepers were quantified during four Twenty20 (T20) cricket matches. A total of 18 different players were monitored over 30 innings. The study showed that cricketers covered up to 8.5 km, with just less than 1 km of this distance spent sprinting during an 80 min fielding innings.
Fast Bowlers covered 8.5 km; sprinted ± 42 times, mean sprint distance was ±17m and total sprinting distance was ± 1 km.
Wicketkeepers covered ± 6.5 km; sprinted ± 5 times, mean sprint distance was ± 10m and total sprinting distance was ± 100m.
Batsmen covered ± 2.5 km; sprinted ± 15 times, mean sprint distance was ± 14m and total sprinting distance was ± 250m during a 30 minute innings.
The result of the research shows that fast bowlers and fielders have substantially greater physical demands than spin bowlers and wicketkeepers in T20 cricket. The same could be said of the sport in the longer format of One Day International (ODI) cricket.

For batsmen, bowlers, and fielders, the primary energy system utilized during competition is the anaerobic processes (ATP-PCr and Glycolytic systems). In the acts of bowling, batting, and fielding, the intervals of activity requiring energy generation to power the athletes' muscles will almost certainly be fewer than 40 seconds. As all players in cricket are at some stage of a match called on to bat and field, much basic fitness training will be common to all players. Cricket training is not exclusively an anaerobic focus. Players are often either positioned in the field or batting for an extended period of time. Enhanced aerobic fitness and a strong cardiovascular system assist the players in dealing with the fatigue and impact on their attentiveness in the course of a long match. 

Petersen, C.; Portus, D.B.; Dawson, M.R. 2009“Quantifying positional movement patterns in Twenty20 cricket” International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport  9 (2)165-170