Long Jump

Multi-eventer Jessica Ennis during a long jump, preparing to land.
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Multi-eventer Jessica Ennis during a long jump, preparing to land - by Adam Kerfoot-Roberts.

The long jump is a track and field event combining speed, strength, and agility.


Competitors run down a runway (usually an all-weather track) and jump as far as they can from a wooden board 8 inches (20 cm) wide that is flush with the ground, landing in a pit filled with finely ground gravel or sand. If any part of the foot touches the ground past the foul line, it is a foul. In important tournaments, a layer of plasticine placed immediately after the board will show if this has happened, and an official will also be watching to make a determination. The jump may be started from any point behind the foul line, but the closer to the foul line the better.

Competitors will each have a set number of attempts, normally three trials to qualify for the final, with the top qualifying 8 or 9 jumpers getting another three efforts in the final.

For records to be set, the maximum accepted wind assistance is 2 m/s (4.5 mph).


The long jump can be said to have five phases: the approach run, the final two strides, takeoff, action in the air, and landing. Speed of approach and a high leap off the board are essential. Many long jumpers also compete successfully in sprints. A classic example of this is Carl Lewis.

The approach

The aim is to hit maximum controlled speed just at the takeoff. The most important factors for the distance travelled are velocity at takeoff and trajectory angle. The top jumpers usually go up at an angle of only twenty degrees or less, so the athlete's speed is of greatest importance.

Athletes will strive for a consistent approach, both in length and number of strides. For athletes at up to intermediate level, approaches will usually be between 12 and 19 strides, while for top jumpers they are closer to 20 or 22 strides.

The last two strides

The athlete will use the last two strides to prepare for takeoff while conserving as much speed as possible.

The second last stride is longer than the last stride. The athlete begins to lower their centre of gravity to prepare for the vertical impulse. The last stride is shorter because the centre of gravity is being raised in preparation for takeoff.


At takeoff the athlete must create a vertical impulse through the centre of gravity while maintaining balance and control.

This is one of the most technical phases of the long jump. The athlete must be sure to place the foot flat on the ground. Jumping off either the heel or the toes will shorten the jump. From the heel only loses too much speed and puts extra strain on joints. From toes only lowers stability, and raises the risk of the leg buckling or collapsing beneath the jumper. The athlete must also maintain proper body position, keep the torso upright and move the hips forward and up to achieve the maximum distance.

There are several styles of takeoff, including:


The double-arm style of takeoff works by moving both arms in a vertical direction as the competitor takes off. This gets the hips  high and imparts a large vertical impulse.


This is the most common style taught by coaches. It is a classic single-arm action that resembles a jumper in full stride. It is an excellent for maintaining speed through takeoff.

Power sprint or bounding

The bounding takeoff, is one of the most effective styles. Similar to the sprint, it resembles a sprinter in full stride, with one major difference. The arm on the side of the takeoff leg fully extends backward instead of staying bent.

There is no "correct" style of takeoff and the one chosen depend upon the athletes preference.

Action in the air and landing

There are several flight techniques, including the hang, the sail, and the hitch-kick. These (and others) negate forward rotation caused by take-off. Once in flight the athlete cannot change direction. The aim of in-flight techniques is to stop forward rotation and allow the athlete to be in control when they land so that they do not fall backwards.


The long jump generally requires training in several areas, including:


Long Jumpers tend to practice jumping 1 to 2 times a week. Approaches runs may be repeated up to 8 times per session.

Over-distance running

Over-distance running workouts are performed 1 to 2 times a week. This builds sprint endurance, which is required in competitions where the athlete is sprinting down the runway up to 6 times.

Weight training

Weight training should play a major role in pre-season training and early in the competition season. A long jumper may weight train up to 4 times weekly, focusing on quick movements involving the legs and trunk, using low repetition and emphasizing speed, aiming to maximize strength while minimizing weight gain.


Jump training, including running up and down stairs and hurdle bounding, should occur about twice a week. This  enhances agility and explosiveness.


Bounding is any sort of continuous jumping or leaping. Drills usually require single leg bounds, double-leg bounds, and some variation of the two. These drills aim to have the athlete spend the minimum time on the ground, and work on technical accuracy, fluidity, and jump endurance and strength.


Flexibility is an often overlooked tool for long jumpers. Being flexible reduces chances of injury.

Video taping is a popular tool in many long jump workouts. The athlete can watch their own progress as well as compare their own performance to that of some of the world class jumpers.

Training styles, duration, and intensity will vary greatly from athlete to athlete and the experience and strength of the athlete as well as on their coaching style will govern these areas.

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This page derived from the wikipedia page Long jump.

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