GAINcast Episode 86: Forget Technique (with Jerry Clayton)

Few track and field coaches have put together as diverse a resume as Jerry Clayton. The University of Michigan head coach has coached 16 NCAA champions across nearly every field event, including a world champion in the high jump and multiple Olympians in the throws. The key to Clayton’s success is to focus less on the minutia of technique and more on getting athletes to feel the movement. On this episode of the podcast Clayton walks us through his approach to develop technique and strength.

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Notes and Quotes

Clayton’s resume is even deeper than mentioned above. In addition to multiple NCAA champions he has coached 2 world champions, 2 Olympic medalists, 88 NCAA All-Americans, 39 international team competitors, and 33 participants in Olympic Games and World Championship competition. Our conversation discussed his influences, motor learning, and translating ideas across multiple events.

Clayton’s influences
Motor learning
  • 19:00 – Motor learning and getting athletes to find the right positions. “I use obstacles that require the body to make adjustments without the athlete needing to think about where to put their foot.
  • 20:30 – Using light and heavy implements to improve technique and translating this idea to other events.
  • 24:00 – Learning from Europeans on how to look at the big picture rather than minutia.
  • 27:30 – More on light and heavy implements.
  • 31:00 – The interplay of specific strength and technique.
  • 32:15 – Priorities, specificity, and where the weight room fits into training.
  • 35:45 – Do you get enough overload from functional strength training?
Coaching multiple events

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further Reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: