Long jump technique – the start:
Long jump tips – the overall approach:
"I used a 20-stride approach – or a 10-cycle approach (a cycle being, just counting one foot). Most of the time I try to (teach jumpers) to start off with their jump foot, but some people have got to start off with their right (foot). That’s why cycles are good, because a 19-step approach is the same thing as a 20-step approach. It’s still 10 cycles.
“I would recommend for most of your high school athletes that you start them out with an eight-cycle, or 16-step, approach. ... Obviously you might have some great athletes, women or men (who can handle a longer approach). So if you take them to a 20-step approach, it would be three cycles in the drive phase, three cycles in the transition phase, two cycles in the attack phase and two cycles in the takeoff phase.
“For the eight-cycle approach it would be two cycles in the drive phase, two cycles in the transition phase, two cycles in the attack phase and then the takeoff is always the same, there’s four steps.”
Long jump technique – the drive phase:
Long jump technique – the transition phase:
“In the transition phase, wherever your head goes, that’s where your hips are going to go. ... So when an athlete leaves the ground, if they’re looking down, they’re going down. If the head’s going up, they’re going to go up. What we want to do for that transition phase is take them from that down position, to an upward position where they can sprint. The best way to get them to do that is just to think about taking their head up slowly. As coaches, we just throw out a million things until something sticks and they get it.
What I try to do with my athletes is, I try to tell them, 'Think of your run, the transition phase, as if you were looking at the numbers on a clock.’ So for me, my transition phase was three cycles, so I knew that I would count three lefts. So if (at the start of) my drive phase my head was down, I was at six o’clock. Then in the first cycle on my transition phase I went to five o’clock. Then to four o’clock – head coming up. And then to three o’clock ... come up nice and smooth. Also I would tell my athletes, Look down the runway, look at the board, then look at the pit. And then come up looking at the horizon.’”
Long jump technique – the attack phase:
Long jump technique – the takeoff:
“At the higher levels, especially a really, really talented kid who’s also smart, that can handle it, you can break it down further. One of the main reasons why I was able to jump as far as I did was because I was able to take my speed into the takeoff. And what I did, what I call the push- pull-plant, going into the penultimate step – you go to a flat foot, you’re going to lose speed, because you spend more time on the ground – but what you want to try and do is limit how much speed you lose. So you push into that penultimate step.
“The pull comes from the pulling action from over the top of that flat foot. It’s like a fixed lever. Just before the foot hits the ground it’s pulling back. It’s rolling from the heel to the toe. Pulling that way.
“The next part will be the plant. The plant is not a high heel recovery, it’s a low heel recovery to a flat foot, and then a punch. That’s what gets you off the ground. Punch the elbow back (using the opposite arm), punching the knee, shrugging the shoulders, lifting up the chin. Everything going up. So when they hit the board at ground contact the shoulders are behind the foot. But when they take off, they’re over the top foot. Hips high. Good speed. Takeoff angle. Force into the ground. That’s what makes for (long) jumps.”
Long jump tips – flight and landing:
“Once it leaves the ground the natural tendency for the body (is) to flip. ... So what you want to do is block and fight that forward rotation. Lengthen the body out, block the arms, keep the body elongated as long as possible before landing. ... So you want to make sure that you’re hitting (the board) behind the foot and then taking off over the top of the foot, and everything going up.
“Keep your body upright, get yourself into a position when you come into the landing, where you’re not bending over, but assume a position where you can lift up the knees, extend the heels, hit the sand with the heels and pull to the side to make sure that the butt is clearing the heels, or the European way, where they hit and pull and scoop through.”
Read more long jump advice and drills from Mike Powell, plus a step-by-step illustrated guide to long jump technique.