HOW TO LONG JUMP

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The long jump is the most saturated field event in track and field.  Everyone wants to run at top speed and jump into a soft pit of sand.  It's fun!  Many times though, athletes and coaches think this event is solely made up of an athlete running and jumping.  Although this is true to an extent, there is so much more to it that must be discussed/practiced to realize one's true potential!  

The Approach

The long jump approach is all about pure speed and aggression.  With how quickly the jump is completed the athlete needs as much speed/power as possible to maximize their jump.  Some athletes need a short number of steps to get to their max speed, while others require a larger number of steps.  The approach should be tailored to the athletes and their needs.

The approach itself is extremely difficult and takes a great deal of practice to "master".  Many times an athlete will not experience success in the approach until they've done it for one to two seasons.  If you are a younger athlete, I suggest focusing most of your attention on the approach before you decide to move on to other aspects of the long jump due to its great importance.  The rhythm and mindfulness in the approach are paramount to the athlete's success and should never be minimized in their importance.  To learn more about the approach click the button below!  

The Takeoff

Many times athletes put too much emphasis on the takeoff and the "board" that accompanies it.  Let me begin by saying that if an athlete fixates on the board they will at some point slow down.  There is no way around it.  An athlete must first understand and be able to perform the approach before they should worry about doing a proper takeoff.  Only then will an athlete maximize his/her potential in this jump due to the great importance of speed.

The takeoff itself is one part simplicity and two parts complexity.  Anyone can run and jump, so to that extent, the takeoff is quite easy.  The reason it can be hard is due to the technical aspects that many athletes don't know prior to being coached.  The term "penultimate step" is used to describe the proper takeoff.

I generally don't teach my kids the technical term "penultimate step", instead I simply tell them that the last two steps in their approaches must be flat.  To properly perform the penultimate step you need to drop your hips so that you can jump upward and get as much distance between yourself and the ground as possible.  Without that drop in an athlete's hips he/she won't be able to create distance between themselves and the ground and will ultimately land much quicker.  Think of a basketball player or volleyball (spiker/hitter) attempting to jump upwards without first lowering their hips - it would be extremely ineffective.

For this aspect of the jump I have use a drill called "Toe, Toe, Toe, Flat, Flat".  As my understanding of the jump has evolved so too has my use of specific drills to help with this extremely important focus.  To see my most updated practie inventory please consider purschasing my book when it's finally published.

For now, click the button below to be redirected to a visual of the "Toe, Toe, Toe, Flat, Flat" drill.

The Flight

The flight in the long jump is somewhat difficult due to the need of the athlete jumping to properly perform multiple parts of the takeoff correctly (I recommend watching the video link above before moving on).  
 
In the takeoff an athlete must keep their eyes and chest up when jumping from the board (which often does not happen).  If the athlete fails to do this and their eyes, chest, and overall posture are trending downward they will have an exceedingly difficult time controlling their flight.  When this happens athletes generally put their legs/feet down quicker than desired and thus cut off possible added distance.

Many coaches say that once an athlete has jumped there is no way to add any distance to a jump - everything has already been determined due to the approach and takeoff.  This is true, but many times athletes can do improper technical aspects (in flight) that greatly reduce the chances of them maximizing their best jump and losing a great deal of distance.

The Landing

If athletes ever hope to get the most out of their jumps the landing is an incredibly important aspect.  I have had multiple athletes in my years of coaching that could have been state-qualifying jumpers but were often foiled by the landing.  There is no other sport/event out there that asks an athlete to run at full speed and jump forward (let alone into a pit of sand).

I personally chose to implement what I call a "traditional" landing, and use something called the "Chair Drill" to help my athletes find consistency.  There are a massive number of different types of landings and drills that assist with those techniques, but I highly recommend you take a look at the drill I've included below as I believe it to be the best out there!