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TRAINING AND DRILLS FOR THE
RUNNING LONG JUMP
Jim Kiefer, Fullerton College
The running long jump is an event that demands perhaps the greatest amounts of raw athletic ability found in any of the contests that make up the sport of track and field. An elite performer in this event has to be able to exhibit world or near world class speed. He or she must be able to perform specific motor skills in such a rapid fashion that the individual would likely be an outstanding candidate for almost any of the other field events. Strength and flexibility are the protectors of the athlete competing in the long jump. Strength allows the individual to control and change the direction of the athlete's center of mass. Flexibility allows the athlete to perform without destroying the muscle, connective tissue and joint networks that are tasked with such great ballistic loads by this event.
The primary elements of the long jump are the run-up or approach, the final three steps of the run-up, the take-off, the flight, and the landing phase.
It is valuable for both athlete and coach to consider some key factors that make
up each of these primary areas. By understanding some basic information, the
ability of the coach and athlete to communicate effectively in the formulation
and execution of the training plan is enhanced.
The run-up in the long jump is the most important phase of this event. Speed is the most valuable asset in the run up. Accuracy is the next most valuable asset of the run up (a very, very close second.)
Developing the run:
The use of two markers is recommended. Using this technique gives a jumper a secondary mark with which to check his progress and accuracy as he/she progresses toward the take-off. The second check mark should not be closer than six strides from the take-off. An additional Coach's checkmark may be placed at 30' from the take-off board. This provides a simple method to calculate the athlete's velocity at take-off and the consistency of the run-up during competition.
The length of the run-up should be long enough for the athlete to develop maximum controllable speed. For the young jumper, this may mean that the run up may only be 10 or 12 strides. For the more experienced, stronger jumper with the need to develop great velocity, it is not uncommon to see run ups of 150 feet or more. As the young jumper progresses in skill and strength, it will be common to see the length of the approach run to become longer.
The characteristics of relaxation, consistency and rhythm are important in developing an effective long jump run up. In practice, the athlete should strive to develop an approach that is rhythmic, relaxed and uniformly quickening as the athlete approaches the take-off board. Tension developed in the face, neck or shoulders during the run up will inhibit the ability of the athlete to create the maximum velocity necessary for great efforts. As well, that same tension will work against the effort as the athlete tries to convert from horizontal to vertical at take-off.
Great jumps are realized when the athlete has a run- up that exhibits excellent sprint technique, very little inhibition at take-off (loss of velocity) , and a consistent non-altered striking of the take-off board. Another way of phrasing this is to say "be fast and be in the right place at the right time."
The final three steps:
This is the phase of the long jump where the athlete prepares for the vertical potential of the effort. Vertical lift is the product of the horizontal and vertical forces that the jumper is able to realize during the final three steps of the approach run up
Beginning three (3) strides away from the take-off board, the jumper should begin the transition part of the run up. This means that three steps away from the board, a slight change in the stride pattern must occur. The third stride out is the sensory point. The second stride lengthens slightly in order to lower the athlete's center of mass. The final stride of the take-off run typically shortens so that the athlete can create greater muscle tension in the take-off leg and create an increased vertical moment for take-off. The difference in length of the final two strides is minimal. Great differences in the lengths of these two strides will result in excessive negative acceleration (slowing down) at the moment of take-off.
One effective teaching cue used to describe this is to tell the jumper to think: "quick, quicker, quickest" when doing these last three strides.
Remember: Sprint right up to the takeoff board.
Body position is
important. The take-off foot should be slightly in advance
of the jumper's hips...the
hips should be slightly ahead of the jumper's shoulders. This is described as a slight backward lean.
The movements performed by the free leg and the opposing arm on the take-off foot side will create the vertical moment in the take-off phase. These movements should be characterized by short radius, fast explosive actions.
The head should be carried in a normal position and the eye focus should be forward and open.
The final two foot supports in this phase of the long jump should be flat, almost slapping contacts.
The flight phase of the long jump is the component of the event where there is the greatest measure of variability. Flight technique assumes three primary forms. These are the stride, the hang and the hitch kick techniques. Regardless of the technique used, there are certain principles that should be remembered. Good balance while traveling through the flight phase is essential. The ability to counter the forward rotation which is initiated at take-off is the best indicator of the effectiveness of the flight form. If the athlete is young or struggling, experimentation with these forms may be indicated.
Without good balance in the flight phase, it is impossible to be in position to realize an excellent landing .
As the jumper senses the descent of the effort, the landing phase must be initiated. Simply, the athlete must extend the legs as far ahead of the center of mass as is possible...without falling backward into the landing pit.
The best extension comes when the athlete moves the legs forward and upward in a segmented pattern. This means the upper leg should come up first and should be followed by the lower leg. This is possible in all three of the flight technique variables.
The greatest extension potential lies in the use of the slide landing technique. This is accomplished by lifting the hips when the feet make contact with the landing pit. As the feet make contact, the athlete must press the heels downward and contract the hamstrings causing the hips to rise. As this is completed, the jumper must twist and allow the momentum of the effort to carry his/her body past the line in the sand formed by the jumper's feet.
Never forget that the long jumper is a speed event. The training goals should be to develop speed and to develop skills of jumping that can be executed at high speed. The training for the horizontal events is explosive and very taxing. Be sure to give the athlete's reasonable recovery between jumping days so that they can perform with reasonably fresh legs.
LONG JUMP DRILLS
1. Approach work, approach work, approach work.....
2. Short run jumps- 6 to 10
3. Short run jumps to a raised take-off. 6 to 10 strides to a box will elevate the jumper and allow for flight technique work. Landing in the vault or high jump pit is excellent for this drill.
4. Pop-ups- short run emphasizing the take-off action and the vertical impulse. This is also a great drill to work on the slide landing technique.
5. Low hurdles with a one step (two support) recovery-Jumper goes over the hurdle with the emphasis on the vertical component. When he/she lands, think: "one... TWO". Concentrate on the short radius movements and the vertical impulse.
6. Plyometrics. Speed plyos, depth plyos, rhythm plyos.
7. Full run jumps- These are important to put the whole package together. They are especially important to the newcomer to the event. Athletes can only be expected to do a very few repetitions of this kind of drilling.
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