By West Bromwich Albion FC, in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University
The second speaker of the evening was the internationally renowned sprint coach Jonas Dodoo (@). Jonas is the Head Coach of Speed Works, a training programme run out of the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London. He has an MSc in Coaching Science and has studied in depth, and worked alongside, elite coach Dan Pfaff. Jonas is best known for his involvement with Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford and the third fastest Briton of all time, Chijindu Ujah. He has also consulted for team sports such as Arsenal FC and Bath Rugby Club.
Speed for Team Sports
Jonas opened his presentation with a video of an elite level 100m race, with many of the sprinters running sub 10 seconds. He noted how each has their own strengths and weaknesses; different heights, different ages, from both hot and cold countries, yet they all find a way to run fast. There are lots of coaches developing elite sprinters using a variety of methods. He notes that his way is only how he sees it, others may have different views and theories.
Projection – Switching – Reactivity
Jonas likes to break a sprint down into three key areas; Projection – Switching – Reactivity. The first part, Projection, concerns the Forces an athlete produces, mainly from the hips, and the direction in which they are applied. This ties in well with JB Morin’s Ratio of Force concept (read more on JB’s presentation here). It isn’t merely the maximum amount of Force a person can produce, but how well they can orientate this in the correct direction. During acceleration, horizontal force is key, but as the athlete reaches maximum velocity, vertical forces become of greater importance.
Switching is an area Jonas claims many forget about. This is the reason Frans Bosch’s work has been so popular, as it is a relatively untapped part of sprinting. He specifically notes the importance of Cross Extension and the Cross Reflex.
The final part of Jonas’ model is Reactivity, and concerns itself with the contact with the ground. Areas to focus on here are the recycling of energy through improving stiffness. He mentions the significance of drills to develop strength and capacity at the ankle and knee specifically. These are easily implemented regularly into warm ups.
A great maximum velocity is built from a great acceleration. Sprint tactics is how we blend everything together to produce a successful sprint; every 10m split an athlete should be getting quicker. A 30m sprint is ‘made good’ from the beginning of the sprint, it is all connected; acceleration is just another component of training, not a separate entity.
A key take home message from the presentation was that sprinting is the true measure of a successful Strength and Conditioning program. Broad jumps, IMTPs, F – V profiles are ultimately not important, they are only indicators of the desired outcome, which is to improve an athlete’s speed. Jonas said that all we should be concerned with is, do our athletes keep getting faster from 0 – 30m and stay healthy in the process; that is what we should judge our success on.
Another interesting point Jonas made was that male team sport athletes should be aspiring to match elite level female sprinters, he believes they exhibit similar profiles. However, he noted that nobody has made available good information regarding what an elite level footballer sprints like; with boots on, on the grass. If people have this data, it is usually kept in house.
Following this, Jonas broke down sprinting into its constituent parts; stride frequency and length. He accredited a lot of his information to biomechanists Ralph Mann and Dr. Paul Brice. Dr. Brice will be presenting his work at the second masterclass. Frequency is effective from the beginning and very close to maximal, however stride length needs to keep getting longer throughout the sprint. Successful sprinters project themselves further each stride by applying large amounts of force, as ground contact times gradually decrease. He claims that many novice sprinters find this a contradiction, as they want to move their legs quicker, when it is actually about applying force more effectively.
Golden Position 2.0
The next area Jonas spoke on was more on the kinematics of acceleration, and the importance of a low recovery, which is called the Golden Position. This has recently also been referred to as the ‘Jamaican Toe Drag’, a title which Jonas isn’t particular a big fan of. He has a slightly different take on the Golden Position, and therefore calls his version 2.0.
The Golden Position 2.0 is all about preparing the free leg, especially the ankle, with enough pre tension to hit the ground hard and project the body forward. This pre tension, he believes, is even more important than the low recovery aspect of Golden Position 1.0. A low recovery is all about a fast thigh speed, which is an effect. Therefore, we must look to the cause, Projection, to improve this. Achieving these is how we can produce the force required to run at increasing velocities with ever shortening ground contact times.
To finish his presentation, Jonas went into detail on the drills and exercises he uses with his sprinters and team sport athletes. He bases these on Bondarchuk’s model of Exercise Classification, and periodises them accordingly. I highly recommend people get along to one of Jonas’ workshops to see these in more detail. He did make an interesting point in that he sees traditional General Preparatory Exercises as more for athlete health than specific transfer, whereas his Specific Development/Preparatory Exercises are what will improve his athletes’ sprint times.
Jonas gave a great insight into speed development from a different point of view to JB, which was interesting to see. His coaching perspective was highly applicable for those practitioners who attended the evening. The drills he presented at the end of his presentation are the type exercises that can be immediately added into any team sport program that is looking to improve an athlete’s speed. Again, I would highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to further research Jonas’ methods; through Speed Works he regularly puts on workshops and seminars, which are invaluable to coaches.
Speed Development for Team Sports – Masterclass 2 (Repeated Sprint Ability and Lessons from the Olympic Track), with Prof. David Bishop and Dr. Paul Brice will take place on the 30th of November (6:30 – 8:30pm) at the Hawthorns Stadium, Birmingham. Tickets are on sale through Eventbrite (here). David Bishop is the inaugural research leader in sport science at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. He has 20 years of experience as both a researcher and an applied sport scientist working with elite athletes. He has over 200 peer reviewed articles and 6 book chapters in the area of human movement and sport science. Paul Brice is the Former Head Biomechanist at the London 2012 Olympic Games for Track and Field. He specifically working directly within the British Athletics Olympic program as Lead Biomechanist from 2006 to 2012. He has a wealth of elite level experience and is driven to provide ‘meaningful’ and ‘objective’ biomechanical information that informs key coaching decisions across all sports.