The importance of a good approach run:
“I believe that the approach is 90 percent of the jump. It sets up the rhythm, it sets up the takeoff, and that’s really the majority of the work. Once you leave the ground this whole distance that you can go is already pre-determined (by) the amount of speed you have at takeoff, your hip height, takeoff angle and the amount of force you put into the ground. All you can do when you get into the air is take away from that.”
Coaching points for the approach:
How to help young long jumpers with the start of their approach:
A good drill for the drive phase:
The importance of speed:
“You want to distribute your energy throughout the run. The main thing is, how fast are you going at takeoff, and how did you get there? You want to get there using the least amount of energy as possible so you can save it for the takeoff.
“I have an athlete who made the world championship team (in 2007). His (previous) coach told him to get out and stand up and cruise to the board and I’m like, ‛No, no, no.’ You want to accelerate into the board. If you think about it in a physics way, speed times height equals distance. You’ve got to go as fast as you can but at a speed that you can control. When Carl Lewis was jumping, he ran on the track in a certain way, but on a runway he ran differently. Because he couldn’t handle it. (The approach is) basically a small series of bounds down the runway, getting faster and faster, to a big bound at the end.
It’s not a sprint, because it’s hard to take off and go vertical when you’re sprinting ... From the beginning, get your athletes to think about being fast at the board. Now obviously you’re not going to start off slow. There’s different types of running. ... So it’s about that optimal speed that you can handle at takeoff, get up in the air and land without killing yourself.”
Whether young jumpers should count their steps during the approach:
The importance of learning proper technique:
“The main thing that you want to tell your athletes is, when they’re sprinting or jumping, the more time you spend on the ground, the slower they’re going to go. The more time they spend on the ground in the jump, the lower they’re going to go. The more force they put into the ground, to get off the ground, the faster and higher and longer they’re going to go. ... When you hit the ground you create energy, whenever your muscle contracts you create energy. So when you hit the ground that energy can either be a short burst that can help you lift off the ground, or you can hit it and then all the energy just disperses.”
On not looking at the takeoff board:
“If they look at the board they’re going to foul. If they start looking at the board from four- to-six steps out they’re going to find a way to change their steps to get to the board and they’re going to look at it and they’re going to probably be over it. They’re going to lose their speed, they’re going to lose their hip height. Tell them just to put their foot down. Even at a competition, I say, ‛Don’t adjust. If your first jump is a foul, OK, that’s a warning. Now we know. (The next jump) we’ll move back and you should be in the middle of the board if you do everything else correctly.’ But in practice always tell them never to adjust to the board. If you’re six feet over, or six feet behind, put that foot down (and let the coach make any necessary adjustments).”
Landing drills for young long jumpers:
“Start off from a standing position, standing long jumps. Have them throw the arms out forward, drive the knees to the chest, and while they drive the knees to the chest the hips are going to rotate underneath, have them keep the torso upright, extend the heels, hit the sand, and either pull to the side or pull through that way. Start doing that with a standing start, and when they get used to that, get them to take one step back, to make it more like a long jump. Then go two steps back.”
Read Mike Powell’s step-by-step long jump tips, plus an illustrated guide to long jump technique.