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Decathlon

Competing in the decathlon competition is the ultimate challenge for the senior male and female athlete. The competition is against oneself and the scoring tables and the aim is to score more points than anyone else does. It is the supreme test of mind and body; challenging the person's character, attitude and determination and their physical abilities. It is impossible to 'tame' the event because nobody has ever achieved the perfect score (although some have got close) - there is always room for improvement and progress.

The Events

The Decathlon (10 events) for Men is held on two consecutive days in the following order:

Day 1 Day 2
100 metres
Long Jump
Shot
High Jump
400 metres
110 metres Hurdles
Discus
Pole Vault
Javelin
1500 metres

The Decathlon (10 events) for Women is held on two consecutive days in the following order:

Day 1 Day 2
100 metres
Discus
Pole Vault
Javelin
400 metres
110 metres Hurdles
Long Jump
Shot
High Jump
1500 metres

Training

When training for decathlon, athletes will work on techniques and conditioning, during which each event sets its own major physical demands.

The elements in each of the combined events and the key physical demands of those elements are detailed in the following table:

Event Aerobic Endurance Gross Strength Skill Relative Strength Running Speed Mobility Explosive Strength Speed Endurance Strength Endurance
100m Low Med Med High High High High Med -
Long Jump - Low High High High High High - -
Shot Putt - High High Med Low Med High - -
High Jump - Low High High High High High - -
400m Med Low Low High High Med Low Med High
110m Hurdles - Med High High High High High Med -
Discus - High High Med Low High High - -
Pole Vault - Med High High High Med Med - -
Javelin - Med High High Low High High - -
1500m High - - Low Low - - - Med

Speed and strength (power) are of vital importance, and so it seems reasonable to conclude that successful combined event athletes must be fast and strong. The predominant requirements of the decathlete are mobility, skill, speed and explosive strength.

The long term planning of combined events includes the planning of technique and strength conditioning. This concept is true for athletes of all ages - whereby technique is dove-tailed with conditioning, but to varying degrees depending on ages.

For younger athletes (13 to 15) during the years of early training, athletes should work on the simple disciplines, ones that are more 'natural' to learn, such as sprinting, hurdling, long jump and high jump.

Later training (15 to 18 years) should include more complex events such as shot, javelin and pole vault events that are more demanding.

Conditioning

Conditioning should take the form of, primarily, body weight circuits and running, bearing in mind young athletes will be developing a fair amount of strength, agility and endurance simply by practicing the events themselves.

For senior and top level athletes, conditioning should be worked on more extensively than technique.

Denise Lewis

In 1997, Denise Lewis trained six days a week and the key element for Denise was conditioning, which underpinned the whole training program throughout the year. A weekly schedule would include:

  • two aerobic runs
  • two body weight circuits
  • one medicine ball session
  • two weight sessions
  • two track sessions
  • two technical sessions. This involves a hurdles session (outdoors) during the week but the main sessions are done on a Sunday morning where usually two events were tackled each time. (11 training units)

Mobility underpins the conditioning program and includes a mixture of general and specific exercises.

The Early Years

Tony is a Senior British Athletics coach with many years experience in coaching young and senior athletes in the combined events. The following is some advice from Tony in introducing young novice athletes to the Combined Events.

A training regime for a novice multi eventer might be two technical sessions and a running session on every training night/day e.g.

  • Tuesday long jump, shot & running
  • Thursday high jump, hurdles & running
  • Sunday would be to concentrate on the weakest event and/or develop the new skills the athlete would need to compete in the next age group, plus a running session

Running sessions are based on 400 metres training but much less volume and athlete specific.

The fun begins as a coach and athlete have to start fitting in basic weights, strength, mobility, conditioning, GCSE exams, A levels, girlfriends! etc.

The basic premise that I would work on would be to improve the weakest events first but continue to develop the other events at the same time.

Coordination training (skill work) should be done predominantly during the early years (13-18 years)

Speed, particularly running speed, can be ideally developed during the early years (13-18 years) but maximum strength training should be undertaken almost exclusively by top level athletes.

Hard anaerobic endurance training is not appropriate for younger athletes and should be reserved for top level athletes only.

Coaches who work with young athletes must work primarily on skills, technique and speed training. Training athletes to become stronger can take place at a later stage.

If coaches try to develop a strong young athlete and ignore developing skills and technique, then there will be an accelerated improvement initially followed by a 'stunted' improvement later.

If the skills and abilities are laid down at these young ages, then continued long term improvement will ensue.

It is vital that combined event athletes develop high levels of coordination before engaging in strength conditioning work.

Senior Athletes

For senior athletes, very high emphasis is placed on strength conditioning and technical work takes a subsidiary role during the winter.

Points Calculator - Combined Events (Male)

Electronic Timing

Event
Result

Points Calculator - Combined Events (Female)

Electronic Timing

Event
Result

Free Calculator

  • Senior Combined Events points Calculator - a free Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that you can download and use on your computer. This spreadsheet addresses all the senior male/female combined indoor/outdoor events.

The scoring tables for specific boys and girls combined events (80 metres & 110 metres Hurdles boys, 800 metres boys and 75 metres & 80 metres Hurdles girls) are not based on a polynomial equation so a simple algorithm cannot be used to determine the points. Copy of these tables can be obtained from Neuff Athletic Equipment.

Rules of Competition

The competition rules for this event can be obtained from:


Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Decathlon [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/decath/index.htm [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • LEASE, D. (1999) Combined Events. 4th ed. UK: British Athletics