The long jump is one of the oldest and longest standing sports in the athletics circuit. It was, for example, included in the first ever track and field competitions at Oxford University in 1850, and has been a part of every modern Olympic Games to date! It is also an event for both men and women that is run through all levels, from school sports day to massive International championships! However, it did start off as a men only sport – until women burst in on the scene at the 1948 Olympics! Since then, a number of men and women have become well known for the huge distances they can jump!
With the long jump, there is a lot of technique and knowledge needed to be successful. But guess what? I can help you out with that! So, basically, there are five key points to create your perfect long jump. Number one is the run up. For the run up you have to be incredibly speedy. Indeed, some top sprinters are known for their long jumping abilities which stem purely from their speedy get-away from the start line! The faster the better because you build up more momentum which will be what takes you further when you jump!
Number two is the last two steps before you get to the take-off board, which is a white strip marking the start of the distance in the pit. What is important here is that you know where you’re placing your foot! If you step over the white line your jump won’t be counted. Although this sounds like an easy step, you must remember that you’re running toward the board at a high speed, so it becomes difficult to know exactly where your feet are landing. This bit is an underestimated part of the jump despite its incredible importance.
Step three is the actual take off. The take-off needs to be immensely explosive, kicking all your speed and power into the air, but also travelling forwards at force. If you take off badly, you’re likely to only travel a tiny distance.
Number four is the movement through the air. This is where it gets tricky. There are three different techniques used by long jumpers at this point: the hang, the sail, and the hitch-kick. In the hang, the jumper extends both arms and legs upwards to reach their furthest distance from the hips, and only at the last minute does the jumper push their legs forwards to land. In the sail, the most basic technique, the jumper circles their arms forwards in an attempt to propel themselves forward, a little like a butterfly stroke. Again, at the end of the jump, one must push the legs and body forward to land. Lastly, and most difficult, is the hitch-kick. This technique relies on a cycling-in-the-air motion to push the jumper forward, and the jumper must push their torso forward to land.
The last step is the landing. The landing, in the landing pit, needs to be well-balanced, and avoid falling backwards as it reduces the distance covered. But that’s it! Now you know the five stages to a perfect long jump! Have fun trying them all out!