Look Out for These Common Long Jumping Errors When Coaching Young Athletes
What are the most common mistakes young athletes make in the long jump?
Below are 10 of the most common skill errors that I see kids make when long jumping. They’re listed roughly in the order that they will occur during the performance of the skill. I’d love for you to continue the list in the comments section of this blog:
1. Their Run-Up is Too Long
Youngsters will take the longest run-up that they are allowed. A run-up of about 10-15 strides is ample for a young athlete, depending on their age.
2. A One-Paced Run-Up
A good long jump run-up should increase in speed as the board is approached. In practice, try placing markers next to the runway as visual cues to remind the athletes to accelerate during the run up.
3. Slowing Down On Approaching the Take-Off Board
This is often caused by an athlete tiring due to a run-up that is too long. This is also seen if an athlete is overly conscious of the take-off board and is fearful of over-stepping the foul line. Develop a shorter run-up and try relaxing the focus on hitting the board while teaching a building up of speed along the runway.
4. Looking Down On Take-Off
Again, this is often caused by the athlete being too conscious of hitting the take-off board or being prematurely focused on trying to land safely. Try getting the athletes to focus on an object beyond the end of the pit.
5. Poor Use of Arms
Some youngsters throw their arms back behind them and some use a very timid, low -range-of-motion double arm flick as they jump. Get the athletes to really stretch like they are reaching for, grabbing and swinging on a trapeze.
6. A Lack of Height On Take-off
Many novice jumpers virtually skim across top of pit. There are many causes of this including:
- A lack of knee and/or arm drive on take-off
- Poor take-off leg extension
- Head and/or eyes down on take-off
- A lack of confidence in landing
- A lack of power in the take off
Try holding an elastic high jump bar (or similar) across the pit, as an obstacle for the athletes to clear after take-off and before landing.
7. Landing On One Foot in the Pit
A number of novices simply step or run into pit after take-off. This is a very common problem that is usually caused by athletes who simply lack the ability to run, take-off from one foot and land on two feet. Remedial work is needed here. Take the athlete back to basic drills and games. E.g.:
- Landing on two feet from a one leg balance.
- Line up two hoops in front of the athlete. The athlete steps into the first hoop with one foot, jumps, then lands in the second hoop with two feet. This can also be done repeatedly along a row of hoops.
- Walk, take-off from one foot and land on two feet from hoop to hoop, or into a pit.
An effective cue is to tell the athletes to only make one sound – not two – on landing.
8. Dropping Feet Into the Pit
Most beginners land with their feet under them, without the desired leg extension. This is often because it is the safest way for them to land. Teach the athletes to lead with their knees, then stretch out their lower legs so that they are able to “see their feet” in front of them. Try building a wall of sand a few centimetres high across the pit near to where the athletes are landing. The athletes have to try to avoid knocking the wall over.
9. Landing With Straight Legs
Many young athletes land standing in the pit with straight legs, but bent forward at the hips. This is awkward and may cause the athlete to lose balance and fall backwards on landing. The athletes must be taught to “give” at the joints on impact and land in squat position “like a frog”. Standing long jumps into the pit is usually my first point of call to remedy this.
10. Landing With Feet Apart
it is very common for beginners to land with their feet too far apart, either linearly or laterally. Encourage young athletes to land in a small area. In an effort to emphasize this and provide feedback, you can even try drawing a circle in the sand around where the athlete’s feet have landed.
What mistakes do you see young athletes making?
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Anchor or via email.