Article – The New Breed

image: http://sportmag.bigbenweb.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_main_img/public/x462dodoo.jpg,qitok=cZ8DR8Nc.pagespeed.ic.-Q6weVeyzN.jpg

Jonas Dodoo

THE NEW BREED

British sprinting is stronger than ever. Jonas Dodoo is one of the reasons why

It was July 13 2013 when something clicked. In the semi finals of the men’s 100m at the British Championships, the 25-year-old James Dasaolu crossed the line in 9.91s. He was only the fourth Briton ever to break the 10-second barrier.

“That opened people’s eyes – it opened athletes’ eyes,” says sprint coach Jonas Dodoo. “It’s like when the first four-minute mile was run. People think: ‘He can do it, but he’s normal. So it’s possible’.”

The summer after Dasaolu’s run, one of Dodoo’s athletes, Chijindu Ujah, then 20, became number five to dip under 10 seconds. Since then, three more have joined the ‘sub club’. Adam Gemili in 2015 and, this year, James Ellington – who ran 9.96s (wind-assisted) in the British Championships 100m final – and bobsledder Joel Fearon, who ran a legal 9.96s at last month’s English Championships.

And it’s not just the men. Led by Dina Asher-Smith, Britain has a group of female sprinters who ran a world lead in the 4x100m relay at the Anniversary Games. So, how has Britain gone from developing one or two rapid outliers over decades to producing a group of sprint stars in one generation?

Mind the gap

Dodoo provides some idea. The 30-year-old is based at Lee Valley Athletics Centre where, together with a growing team of young coaches, therapists and sports scientists, he is developing some of the country’s most talented young sprinters. Along with Ujah, who will be running the 100m and sprint relay in Rio, three others from Dodoo’s group are making their Olympics debuts. Daryll Neita qualified for the women’s individual 100m and will run in the sprint relay, while Bianca Williams and Ojie Edoburun both go as members of the relay squads.

“We’ve got the best group of young sprinters in Europe – all under the age of 22,” he says proudly. “It used to be that we’d have great juniors in this country who would never become great seniors. Year after year, we would see these top juniors either dropping out of the sport or getting hurt.

image: http://cdn.talksport.com/sport-mag/462/462Dodoo2.jpg

Daryll Neita and Bianca Williams

“British Athletics have their funding system – they wait for people to run fast and show their worth, then fund them. At the bottom, we have a very good club system. But there isn’t anywhere for kids who realise they’re gifted and want to train harder but aren’t fast enough to get on to the system. That’s what Speedworks [Dodoo’s coaching set-up] has been. We find talent and give them a place to grow.”

Ujah’s development is a prime example: “He ran 10.26s in 2012 but he was still a fragile little boy. If he’d gone into a full-time programme then, he would have broken and people would have said: ‘He’s weak.’ He just needed time. And, two years ago, Daryll was injured. Last year she just about made the European under-20 final, and now she’s at the Olympics. Sometimes there are subjective qualities that a governing body that only looks at statistics just can’t see.”

Odd one out

Dodoo’s coaching career started early. “I was a really bossy, observant kid,” he tells us. “Whenever I played sport, I was always the guy who could take a step back from the excitement and analyse.”

A rugby player at school, by his second year at Hartpury College Dodoo was coaching the women’s team as well as working with a talented group of young male players.

The switch to athletics came when Dodoo focused on coach education as part of his Master’s: “My biggest interest is expertise. My wife says I’m an elitist. I studied great people – architects, chess players, coaches – and decided to find the best athletics coach in the world. That was Dan Pfaff.”

Perhaps best known for coaching 1996 Olympic 100m champion Donovan Bailey, Pfaff has also guided a host of world and Olympic medallists, including Britain’s long jump champion Greg Rutherford.

“I bugged Dan,” says Dodoo. “Emailed him again and again, then saved up my student loan and went out to California. I ran out of money after two months and was sleeping on athletes’ floors. But it was the best experience of my life, just observing.”

image: http://cdn.talksport.com/sport-mag/462/462Dodoo3.jpg

Ojie Edoburun and Chijindu Ujah

He returned to the UK inspired and started volunteering at his local athletics club in Battersea Park: “People would tell me I did things weirdly because I wasn’t from track and field – I was from rugby. I combined what I thought was right with what I had learnt and came up with a system. It was really Dan’s system, but dumbed down for the kids. Over time, I had broken kids come to me who got healthy and underperforming people come to me who ran well.”

Some eight years later, Dodoo sees the methods that earned him quizzical looks being used as common practice. The key, he explains, was British Athletics’ recruitment of Pfaff in the lead-up to London 2012.

“Dan always said his legacy was never going to be the achievement at the Games,” he explains. “It was going to be the amount of coaches he touched with information and mentoring.

“I’m not saying anything new, I’m sharing what Dan shared with me. It might be a different perspective – one that works for British athletes – but it’s about collecting what works and focusing on the priorities for the athlete. That move away from being coach-centred and selfish to being athletecentred and selfless is the difference between good coaches and great ones.”

Educated guessing

Central to this philosophy is encouraging athletes to invest in their own training and, by extension, their own careers.

“We’re here to educate and empower them to take control of their knowledge and maximise their ability to run fast,” Dodoo says. “It’s easier to turn up and be told what to do, because then if it doesn’t work it’s not your fault. And if it requires decision-making, what if you make the wrong decision?

“Some find it easier than others, but they need to be empowered and educated. Every session has different effects on an athlete’s hormones, soft tissue, blood, mind. So training is an experiment, and my most accurate barometer is athletes’ feedback. We take jump scores, measure their nervous system to see how recovered they are, watch demeanour and movement, and collect numbers for speed and power. But there is nothing like quality feedback.”

It’s this mindset that Dodoo believes will help Ujah and co succeed in a sport that presents moral as well as physical challenges: “We’ve made exponential progress with young athletes in a sport where in some places there is a different culture – where it’s about doing immoral things to get gains. I teach that if you want to beat the dopers, you have to understand your body.

“Why do dopers take drugs? Often it’s because they want to train harder, sooner – do more. We do less. We focus on the minimum effective dose. Sometimes we go past the red line, sometimes we undercook them, but then it’s a lesson. Each is an opportunity to go through that experiment, take in the information and adapt it for the next cycle.”

Dodoo’s four-week cycles fit into an annual plan. This forms part of a longer-term strategy taking him all the way up to Tokyo 2020, where his present crop will be in their mid-20s and primed for success. By then, their young successors will be watching. It’s a cycle that Dodoo believes can put Britain back on the sprinting map, and prove that barriers really are made to be broken.

Read more at http://sportmag.bigbenweb.com/features/new-breed#1WPigczzqxkv1s6t.99

Testing, monitoring, profiling – What is the point?

Read our lead S&C Coach, Ruth Waghorn views on testing Speed Works athletes:

Ultimately the sole goal is to run fast– no other outcome can show us how successful the athlete is to the task better than the times they achieve on the track. So why bother?

As far as we are concerned, profiling helps to create a more detailed picture. If we know the underlying physical capabilities of our athletes, we have a much better understanding of where their strength and weaknesses are and how we can direct the training intervention.

Fundamentally training is complex blend of multiple training stimuli –  including but not limited to, weight room, plyometric and track training. There’s a reason that you have included that stimulus in the training program. It is important to monitor whether it is working.

At Speed Works we do believe it is important to test and profile our athletes on a regular basis. In order to undertake our profiling, we apply a stimulus to the athletes training and see how they adapt to this. We monitor if that stimulus is doing what we need it to do, and if it’s appropriate to that individual.

The tests we use are based around key performance indicators within track and field.  We pick a few key areas that we need to ensure the athlete is improving in. For example, maximum force and power output, left to right differences and trunk capability. The tests we use are not considered just tests for the sake of tests, but are part of training. The test that we chose to implement are chosen to analyse a variety of underpinning qualities that reflect the key performance indicators of the sport. We strategically implement our chosen tests like standing long jump, med ball throws, capacity testing, trunk and hamstring tests into training when we deem it appropriate. This occurs during a transition week. The transition week is a week to reflect upon the training stimulus of the last block and to make plans for the next.

To profile accurately, we have several key tests that remain consistent throughout the year. Other tests may not be appropriate for certain times of the year due to placing too much stress on the system which isn’t yet developed within that training phase. For example, drop jump capability (the ability to react off the floor from a large drop) would not be appropriate if the athlete hasn’t built up the qualities needed to perform this movement without risk of injury. This test would be better placed at a later stage of training when the athlete is running fast, lifting heavier in the gym and is generally fitter. We will also tailor certain tests to an individual. If an athlete is showing left to right asymmetries we want to look at strength power profiles for left to right differences.

Some tests help potentiate others tests. Power tests that don’t have huge strains on the system could take place before running tests. For example, we may get the athlete to do some med ball and standing long jump tests as an activation to prepare the nervous system for running. It’s a fine line between activation and fatigue so it’s important to get this balance right to produce the most accurate results. Our general run up of tests would be a counter-movement jump on force plates, standing long jump, running, followed by any other med ball throws or power activities.

Our aim from profiling is to try to look at how we can use our testing to change our interventions for the individual. Look at the run itself and find out how they produce force and power- what is it that makes them fast?

However, profiling is not the be all and end all. Improvement in a physical quality doesn’t always mean that there is transference. We profile all our athletes to paint an overall picture of each athlete, showing their general athleticism over a broad spectrum of disciplines so we can work out their individual needs to become faster.

Trackside therapy at Speed Works

I caught up with one of Speed Works lead therapists, Mark Hokan, to quiz him about working trackside in an elite environment. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What is the importance of trackside therapy?

Trackside therapy gives the therapist an idea of where an athletes body is at. This works on a number of levels. The previous session they have had, what training block they are in, what session they have that day or the following day etc. The main idea of track-side support is to access and give feedback to the coach.

Athletes can feel but they can’t explain. Therapists can explain but can’t see. Therefore, communication between all parties so everyone is on the same page is key. The main aim is to ensure the athlete has a smooth session no matter what it takes. This could mean receiving treatment before, during or after and always checking in with the coach. Behind the scenes there remains a constant line of communication. Something we here, at Speed Works call the ‘Support Triad’.

How often should a fit, healthy athlete receive treatment.

It’s Important not to over treat if the body is in a good place. Treat at the end of a session to calm the body down and get an idea of where they are at so you have an idea of where they will be for the next day. Report into the coach and S&C team so everyone is clear on the athlete’s fitness, which in turn can determine what session they are set too. We prefer the term, continual assessment rather than treatment.

How important is your role into making an athlete faster?

My role is as important as all the other support members at Speed Works. It’s very much a team environment. Therapy alone would make an athlete fit and healthy but not necessarily fast. It’s a group effort from all team members. No, one single area is more important than another. Everything is interlinked in what we call a Support Triad. Once this is in place, an athlete will become faster.

New Partnerships

We are delighted to announce that we have formed a partnership with WASPs Academy. Speed Works are now the official supplier of speed coaching, profiling and coach education for the academy. We look forward to working closely with all members of the team and will be keeping everyone informed with regular updates on how the Academy is getting on.

Want to know how to make fast people faster?

Here at Speed Works we pride ourselves on being very open about our philosophy and sharing our knowledge. We have been busy throughout the year presenting open workshops at Lee valley Athletics Centre as well as in-house workshops with visitors from the RFU and WASPS academy. After a successful workshop at West Bromwich Albion F.C. on speed for team sports with JB Morin we look forward to Jonas and JB joining forces on 5th & 6th November for a more in-depth look at the following:

Video analysis – technical attractors for acceleration, change of direction and maximum velocity
Teaching progressions and coaching cues
Applying Bonderchucks exercise classification to the periodisation of speed – progressive principles for team sports
S&C of the talented athlete – force Vs velocity
Practical session focusing on; progression of speed and acceleration drills, max V development, speed and power based plyometrics and plyometrics for change in direction

We believe the best form of learning is by feeling and doing. Come to our workshop and experience being an athlete under the Speed Works regime. Then put to practice some of the coaching cues and methods learnt on the day. Witness how our simple philosophy and system can solve complex multifaceted issues.
Get hands on help in JB’s session involving sprint analysis using coaching aids such as mysprint app, speed gun and optojump.

But don’t just take our word for it:

“Making fast people faster is one of the hardest things a high performance coach can do. Jonas has the unique ability to transfer highly technical knowledge into an easy to understand system which athletes, coaches and scientists can all deliver.
He is able to identify technical faults, training opportunities, coaching cues and training solutions to athletes of all levels in order to make them faster. He has been an important mentor of mine and his support to the GB women’s hockey team in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympics was invaluable.
The opportunity to learn from Jonas and one of the world leading sprint biomechanics researchers must not be missed.”

Ben Rosenblatt, High performance S&C coach – FA
This will be the last of these workshops for this year so don’t delay in booking your space.

Restructure

At the end of an athletics season there is always a natural movement between athletes, coaches and medical staff as people reassess their situations. With this in mind we bid a fond farewell to some of the Speed Works crew and thank them for their hard work. It is with great pleasure we also welcome with open arms new members of the team to revitalise, challenge and succeed.

With a new Olympic cycle to focus on, Speed Works have been busy behind the scenes developing our training system and restructuring the team to produce a robust support system to produce robust elite athletes.

Look out for our team members blogs so you can get to know the gang.

Speedworks: A learning experience

Our Speed Works Speedwise workshops have been a huge success. These continual learning CPD sessions are for coaches, therapists, scientists and anyone with an interest in progressing their coaching eye. These 1 or 2 day worshops will be a regular feature in the Speed Works diary. So far we have welcomed attendees from a variety of sports including; football, rugby, athletics, cricket as well as personal trainers. It’s a great opportunity to not only learn from us but to hear what other attendees have to say, exchange views and ideas and network. We invited guest speaker JB Morin earlier this year who was such a hit we have another workshop with him on 5th November – it’s not too late to book your spot! We will also be introducing other guest speakers in the future so watch this space.

Time to reflect

The athletics season is over, as is another Olympic cycle. The Speed Works squads have had their break and are now at the beginning of their winter cycle and the long slog of hard work for the next 4 years.

Now is a good time to look back at our accomplishments throughout the season.

A number of our track and field athletes had a hugely successful season. It would be hard to name them all but here are a few highlights:

Ojie Edoburun – Ran 10.19 making him the 5th fastest U23 as well as a windy 10.04 which in turn got him selected for the 4 x 100m relay at the Rio Olympics.

Reece Prescod – Won bronze at the British Championships in the 200m. Finishing his season well clocking a time of 20.38 at the Lausanne Diamond League in Switzerland. He also ran a personal best of 10.04 in the 100m.

Sean Safo-Antwi – was selected to represent Ghana at the Rio Olympics in the 100m. He also ran a 200 PB of 20.76.

Chijindu Ujah – Clocked 9.97 at the British Championships and was a semi-finalist at the Rio Olympics. He was only one place off making the final.

Daryll Neita – Ran a PB at the British Championships of 11.23 which gave her automatic selection for the Olympic Games. She then went on to win an Olympic bronze medal whilst breaking the women’s British record in the 4 x 100m relay. With a time of 41.77.

Zanson Plummer – Ran PB’s in both the 100m and 200m (10.48 & 21.82) respectively as an U20. He was then selected for World Junior’s as part of the relay squad.`14

James Weaver – Smashed his personal best by almost a second in the 100m hurdlers, running 13.33 and making the final of the Junior World Championships. This puts him 5th on the Junior all-time list.

Imani Lansiquot – Ran a personal best of 11.17 in the 100m making her the fastest U23 with the 2nd fastest time ever ran at that age. Finishing 4th at the World Junior Champs.

Congratulations to all our track & field athletes who all achieved their pre-season goals and most finished their season with a personal best.

Speed Works – Speed Squads Coming Soon!

Speed Works are proud to launch Speed Works Speed Squads.

The Speed Squads offer monthly training days for coaches and athletes who wish to know more about what it takes to become a world class sprinter. The Squad Days will merge classroom discussion with video analysis and practical training sessions focusing on technical development and strength and conditioning. These days are focused on athlete development, however we encourage coaches to also attend.
Key goals for the Squad days:
Give coaches and athletes the opportunity to access Speed Works Performance Environment.
Give coaches and athletes access to Jonas Dodoo to learn about his philosophy on speed development, planning and injury prevention.
Provide testing and analysis of speed and power which can be compared across a large cohort of athletes at different stages of development.
Provide progressive modules over the year covering phase appropriate topics and analysis.
Provide phase appropriate insights, reflections into Speed Works Program.
Give injured athletes access to world class therapy teams. This is a separate service that will be catered for if there is a demand.
Squad Weekly Topics
Accumulation. Intro to SW system, SW philosophy and training menu. Acceleration + Force Profiling
General Prep. Specific and General Goal setting. Acceleration + Force Profiling.
Special Prep. Analysis and reflection on general/specific goals. Speed and Jump Profiling
Comp phase. Planning and peaking. Speed and Jump Profiling
General prep 2. Reflection and Refocus. Critical goal setting.
Special prep 2. Analysis and reflection on general/specific goals. Speed + Jump Profiling
Critical goal analysis
General Format of the Day:
0930-4.30pm
Classroom Session – Introduction to SpeedWorks.
Classroom Session – Acceleration development.
Practical – Drills for posture, balance and reactivity.
Practical – Special strength and technical development for acceleration + Speed
Break
Practical – Specific Strength training for power athletes.
Practical – General Strength training for injury prevention.
Classroom Session – Summary of day and goal setting.
Dates & Venues:
Sat 22nd October 2016 – Lee Valley Athletics Centre (LVAC)
Sat 19th November 2016 – LVAC
Sat 3rd December 2016 – LVAC
Sat 11th February 2017 – LVAC
Sat 11th March 2017 – Venue tbc
Say 6th May 2017 – LVAC
Booking Information
Costs:
Athlete/coach pair – £60
individual coaches wishing to attend without an athlete – £30
Please contact info@speedworks.training for booking and payment details.

Are you an aspiring track athlete with a need for a high performance set up?

Speed Works are now offering athletes the chance to be part of their team.

Jonas Tawiah Dodoo acts as Performance Director for Speed Works and is one of the leading sports coaches in the UK. Jonas has spent the past 10 years refining his coaching philosophy, learning from the best coaches and sports development systems in the world. Subsequently, he has successfully begun to bridge the gap between the talented novice athlete and the world class performer.

Speed Works is now offering athletes of all abilities the opportunity to train within a high performance training group. The group is based at Lee Valley Athletics Centre where athletes are given the chance to train in the same environment as elite athletes such as Chijindu Ujah, Darryl Nieta and Paralympian Olivia Breen.

Speed Works goal is to bridge the gap between development and elite athletes by providing all athletes with   access to specialist coaching, bespoke strength and conditioning programmes including prehab and rehab routines and consistent weekly sports therapy.   Speed Works firmly believes that in addressing all of the components in a complimentary and compatible way, significant improvements will take place in athlete health, efficiency and performance. Our research into elite training has resulted in the development of multiple international athletes in a variety of sports.

In exchange for a monthly membership fee the successful applicants will be given access to services such as:

  • Technical coaching
  • Individualised strength and conditioning
  • Progressive running programs
  • Sports Massage
  • Trackside therapy
  • Video reviews with Lead Coach
  • Lifestyle advice
  • Recovery and regeneration advice
  • Nutritional advice
  • Sport Psychology advice

 

We are interested in individuals who have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, desire to succeed, with a hunger to learn and grow in a competitive training environment.

In addition to the above we offer packages for overseas athletes.

 

If you would like to apply to be part of the Speed Works team or would like to know more information, then please get in touch by contacting info@speedworks.training stating your event, personal bests, short term and long term goals.