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Long Jump Coaching Information - Synopsis by Sandy Robertson

Long jumping was an event at the Ancient Olympics. Greek amphorae, that’s big jars to you, show heavily muscled athletes jumping and landing at the Olympics. Closer inspection shows that they’re carrying dumbbells in each hand, which is quite odd, considering that successive UKA coaches always claim ‘the faster you run, the further you jump’. Perhaps these ‘halteres’ served another purpose, rather than just keeping you back whilst sprinting? Then the penny drops – it must have been a standing long jump, with the dumbbells used to increase the momentum of the arm swing! [ Keep this in mind as you read on, please]*. As Colin Sinclair suggests in his TJ synopsis, the running jump must have been a multi-phased, or combination jump, probably a step-step-jump. Both LJ and TJ are retained in our Modern Olympics, and GB boasts such luminaries as Lynn Davies and Mary Bignall-Rand in Long Jump, and Jonathan Edwards in Triple. The general idea in LJ is to run as fast as possible down the runway and leap as high off the ground as possible for distance, a compromise between your horizontal and vertical components.

To do this you need to:-

Develop your sprinting speed over a short distance, with a start, a build up, and a fast finish

Practise an accurate run up which gets you onto the take off board, but not over it.

Find a way of changing your horizontal velocity into vertical speed

Find a way of transferring momentum from body parts to the whole body

Adopt a tall position in the air to prevent forward rotation

[Or use an action in the air which inspires a backward rotation to counter the forward rotation of take off]**

Use the stretch reflex engendered by this airborne position to shoot the legs forward

Find a way of landing that stops you falling backwards and spoiling the distance jumped.

[We’ll leave the One and a Half Hitch Kick for another day and focus on the Hang technique]**.

Common errors include:-

Having a run up that’s too short or long: consider your age plus 2 strides as the foundation

Inaccuracy – failing to reach the board, or going over it for a foul

Not keeping your speed going in the last 10 metres of the approach

Not driving the knee up, and at least one fist, to transfer momentum at take off*

Going into the landing position as soon as you take off, so missing the tall position that hinders rotation

Not achieving the bow-shape position that initiates the stretch reflex in abs and hip flexors that help leg shoot

Falling back on landing and losing distance.

Common practices include:-

Tempo runs to ensure the accuracy of your run up e.g. 27.40m x 6, walk back, hitting your checkmark

Take offs, driving your lead knee up till your thigh is parallel with the ground before you take off

Take-offs from a beating board, punching your lead fist up past your shoulder before you leave the ground

Take offs, driving opposite fist and knee up [ or both fists if you prefer a ‘double –shift’]

Pop-ups of a beating board, holding the tall high position to counter rotation

Standing, practising ‘up, back, over’ with the fists [up to shoulder, back behind hip, over head]

Standing, adding in the asymmetric Hang leg action to the symmetrical Hang arm action

Short approaches, say 5-7 strides to a beating board to pop up, hold the tall position until half-way through

5-7 stride approaches, Hang action for the second half of the jump.

Land on your heels with a leg shoot, and rotate to land beside or ahead of your feet.

Practise assisted leg shoots in the pit, legs out straight, partner bumps you upright by lifting your elbows.


A long jump effort is 50% run up/ 40% take off/ 10% efficient leg shoot e.g. for 5.00m it’s 2.50/ 2.00/ 0.50m

Therefore sprint speed is a huge feature, and running technique can be developed with the sprinters

An explosive take off changes your horizontal velocity to vertical, so elastic strength or power is needed

Plyometrics [bounding], weights, and certain circuit exercises done at maximum effort contribute to this

Biomechanics plays its part in that you’d do well to transfer momentum from a part to a whole at take off

A tall position counters the forward rotation engendered by ‘the couple’ at take off [an eccentric thrust]

Any action in the air is there to encourage a leg shoot i.e. heels well forward in landing.

The bow shape in the air engenders a stretch reflex in abs and hip flexors, so they contract quicker.

Sandy Robertson, Mastercoach.

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