High Jump

High Jump Fundamentals

The Approach

The approach might be the single most important part of the high jump because it affects every other aspect of the jump. It is important to measure and practice an athletes approach to build consistency and confidence in the approach. The number of steps varies on age and ability from 8 in youth steps to 12 steps in elite high jump athletes. The majority of approaches are 10 steps.

Take off point

Boys- 1’ inside of standard approximately 3’ to 5’ away from bar

Girls- 1’ inside of standard approximately 2’-4’ away from bar

Width from standard

The width of the approach from the standard depends on the speed of approach and strength of jumper boys are usually 9’ to 12’ and girls are usually 8’ to 11’. Narrower approaches create greater centripetal force and faster rotation about the bar.

Athletes will jump off of their dominate foot. If the athlete is unsure of their dominate foot, roll a ball at them and watch what foot they kick it with. Right footed jumpers will start on the left side of the pit and their initial step is with their left foot, while left footed jumpers will start on the right side of the pit and their initial step is with their right foot.

The Curve

The curve is initiated after the initial approach steps. This varies with the number of steps in the approach. There will be 5 steps on the curve and the remaining steps are for the initial approach. The 1st step on the curve should be a slight cross-over to midline of body. The jumper should feel pressure and run around the curve. Running the curve should lower center of mass The jumper wants a body lean at approximately 22 degrees towards the inside of the curve. It’s important for the jumper to have good sprint mechanics and body position for a successful jump.

Over The Bar

Drive the knee all the way through take-off. Rotate right knee out instead of straightening leg. Left leg will match right leg and line up with pelvic girdle, Legs apart and knees bent. Accelerate head and shoulders to the pit as quickly as possible on the back side of the bar. Once hips clear the bar, the athlete should squeeze their core and bring their knees closer to their chest while bringing their chin back to chest. Some coaches have sthletes kick their legs out straight and I personally don’t believe in that. I have seen many athletes hit the bar with their hamstrings as they straighten out their legs. Squeezing the core and bringing the chin to the chest will rotate the legs and feet over the bar.

High Jump Introduction

High Jump Technique

High Jump Drills

Curve Drill

The proper lean into curves is important for balance and control in the high jump event.

Setup – All you need for this drill is enough area for the jumper to run about 30 yards long and about 10 yards wide. You can set up cones

Procedure – The jumper will start out at a jog for the first few strides, and then once they reach the first cone, they will lean around the corner and then straighten up to prepare to reach the next corner.

Around each corner, the jumper should be controlled and they should have an even and controlled body lean. There should be acceleration for the first part of the turn, and then a deceleration for the second half of the turn, in order to regain upright control.

The body leans for the high jump corner must be controlled, or the runner will not begin their jump in control. Being out of control is energy wasted – and not able to be included in the jump.

J Approach

A proper and consistent ‘J’ is the most effective way for a jumper to reach the optimum point for takeoff.

Setup – The coach should tape a ‘J’ in the approach area for the jumper to follow. Watch the jumper for a few jumps without the tape to see where their approach seems to be working the best – before you tape.

Procedure – Building consistent rhythm and approach is the best way to have consistently good jumps. The more repetition in this regard, the better off the jumper will be.

Find a good starting point for the approach, and then tape the ‘J’ approach that best suits the jumper. Most approaches will be very similar, unless a jumper has a particular angle they like to stride in from.

The jumper should attempt to follow the outside edge of the ‘J’, and lean at the ankles instead of the waist when they follow the curve.

Repeated work results in a more consistent jump – simply because their approach is the same.

Arm Jumps

Using the arms to pump forward and then jump is important to build maximum height in the jump.

Setup – The jumper needs very little area in order to execute this drill, because it is done from a stationary position.

Procedure – In developing arm swing and its relation to the jump, the jumper starts off in a stationary position. The arms are swung as though the jumper is running towards the bar. The arm swing should be rhythmic with the lifting of the feet while running in place.

As the jumper counts the strides they are going to use for their approach, when they get to the planting point, they stop on the heels and then swing both arms hard upward – creating a lift. The momentum from the arm swing can help gain valuable inches in the high jump.

Developing arm swing as an integral part of the jump is going to squeeze the most out of the jumper’s height.

Standing Back-Overs

Good layout position for the high jump is important to get the entire body over cleanly.

Setup – A stable box, able to withstand the pressure of a jump. The box is about 2 feet away from the bar, and the bar is at a height that allows the jumper to clear it with relative ease.

Procedure – From a standing position, the jumper will stand with his or her back to the bar. With a two foot takeoff, the jumper leaps back (with arm swing) and extends the body over the bar. The upper body leads over the bar with the knees bent slightly and spread apart to near shoulder width.

The head should be turned to the side to watch the body clear the bar, and it should finish with the thighs lifting the rest of the legs, knees, and then feet over the bar.

3 or 6 stride Jumps

This drill allows the jumper to get more jump repetition, working on the jump technique, rather than the approach.

Setup – Enough area for the jumpers to have a 3 or 6 stride approach, and then jump into a pit. You may need to lower the height of the bar to accommodate for a lack of speed and momentum.

Procedure – Increased jump repetition is going to help the jumpers with their jump technique. This is breaking it down to an element of the jump, rather that working on the jump from the approach right through to the landing.

The 3 stride jump gives the jumper the chance to work on the final lean into the plant, and then making the jump. It focuses the jumper on the last few steps and the technique for the jump.

The increased repetition with the shorter approach is good for jumpers during the season.

Repetition and muscle memory drills are essential to help the jumper perfect technique at this juncture of the jump.