INSIGHT: Changing Environment with Ella Nelson & Jake Hammond

For those who do not know Ella Nelson, she is a young Australian sprinter. Having represented Australia at the World Juniors Championships in Moncton, Canada, Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and World Championships in Beijing, China, Ella stands ready to make her first Olympic Team in Rio this year. Training under the tutelage of Michael Dooley, together they have decided to grow together and made the decision to engage ALTIS.

Ella Nelson-200m PB 23.04

Ella Nelson-200m PB 23.04

Similarly Jake Hammond, another of Michael Dooley’s proteges, has joined Ella and relocated to ALTIS in Phoenix, Arizona. Jake has also represented Australia at World Juniors in Moncton, Canada and at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. After what Jake describes as a, “year that didn’t go to plan” and missing out on World Championships in Beijing, Jake decided he needed to make a change. To be more professional with his approach and thus prompted the move to ALTIS which will more than likely see him in his first Australian Olympic Team in Rio this year.

Jake Hammond- 100m PB 10.56

Jake Hammond- 100m PB 10.38

Coach Michael Dooley paid his own way over to the USA in order to improve his knowledge and work along side coach Charlie Francis and later Dan Pfaff (head coach of Altis). Having already familiarised himself with the theories and methods employed by the coaches in Jake and Ella’s new environment gives Michael great confidence. It allows a  collaborative approach to the journey of helping athletes progress and improve with the continual acquirement of knowledge and experience. This can therefore be shared in order to make sure athletics grows in Australia and we can achieve both depth and growth throughout the sport.

Harradine Performance contacted Jake and Ella asking if they could share some insight into their training thus far. We asked if they could also share 5 takeaway lessons with our readers.

Jake and Ella off track.

Jake and Ella off track.


Training at home with Michael we followed a very similar model as the coaches here at ALTIS, with Dooley very much influenced by Dan Pfaff’s philosophy. At the beginning of 2015 Michael and I had talked about taking a trip out to Phoenix to spend 2-3 weeks learning at the end of that season. 

My 2015 season didnt go to plan. Coming back from the Commonwealth Games and changing roles at work led to me getting hurt which had me questioning what I really wanted. I could no longer keep doing what I was doing and truly believe I was giving it my all. So I sent off an email to Andreas Behm (recruitment director-lead sprints/hurdles coach)  while at work waiting to go into a meeting. A few weeks later I was fortunate enough to receive a call offering me a spot in the short sprint group. I leapt at the chance to join such an amazing environment and train like a true professional. 



“I could no longer keep doing what I was doing and truly believe I was giving it my all.”

In Australian athletics I feel we are missing a link. We have awesome juniors and then once we grow up, life takes over and athletics is seen as a “hobby” You either start Uni and juggle the long hours studying, probably a part time job and attempting to train as a “pro”. Or you go into the workforce and attempt to do your best with what’s left of the day. Being an Olympic year I wasn’t going to leave any stone unturned. So I packed up moved here to Phoenix and haven’t taken a backward step. Time will tell if the gamble pays off. But Im positive I will not regret giving it a true shot .

“We have awesome juniors and then once we grow up, life takes over and athletics is seen as a “hobby”


Coming over to ALTIS was a no brainer for me. I was keen to work on some things that needed addressing (technical/mental/the works) and I was super excited to learn and give anything a shot going into an Olympic year. The idea was put into my head by Steffen Keil, my agent, and after being introduced to Andreas Behm and Stuart McMillan (Lead Sprints Coach) during the European circuit, I got the go ahead to head over to Phoenix, Arizona in November. What originally was going to be a one month trip quickly turned into a 3 month trip and couldn’t be happier with my decision to stay for an extra few training cycles. I’ve changed my technique in ways I didn’t think was possible for me and even gained 4kg. The decision to stay was made a lot easier having Jake here being a full time athlete. Also having my coach visit for a few weeks in December as apart of his coaching course completed my support system world wide.



“having my coach visit for a few weeks in December as apart of his coaching course completed my support system world wide.”

Our 5 takeaway lessons from our first few months at ALTIS would be:

1. E: Be fluid! Fluidity is a massive part of ALTIS in more ways than one, whether it be programming, on the track, or in day to day life. Flexibility and having a plan B for every situation helps the coach and athlete move past issues whilst still working hard. J: Speed bumps aren’t a big deal here, and every day is a new opportunity to get a little bit better. 

2. There is always a fix. Whenever any of the athletes are presented with a problem (technical or mechanical) a simple cue from the coaches or 10 minutes on the therapy table can eliminate issues, improve performance and most importantly reduce the chance of injury. 

3.High Performance Eating. Since coming to ALTIS our diets have completely changed. We weren’t eating poorly at home, although we weren’t eating in a way that could enhance our recovery. Solely high fat and high protein breakfast’s before our morning sessions have been fun getting used to and we both can see (and feel) results 

4. Document everything. No athlete is the same and distinguishing the differences between each and every day and how they effect the following training sessions can be a vital tool for both the coaches/therapists and yourself. Can never be a bad thing to be one step ahead 

5. Trust the plan, enjoy the journey 

It was a big move, a big risk and a big commitment to pack up and move to Arizona but we both couldn’t be happier with our decision and hope the results show this year. 

Special Thank you to Jake and Ella for taking the time to sharing their lessons with our readers.

Altis is also the home of Australian Long Jumpers, Mitch Watt and Fabrice Lapierre.

You can follow their journey on instagram. Click below.