Use This Simple Method to Help Young Athletes Transition Between Triple Jump Take-Off Boards
A young athlete regularly jumps well over 7 metres in the triple jump. They are using the take-off board that is only 5 metres back from the landing pit.
What could be suggested to help them progress?
Encourage them to learn use the 7 metre take-off board.
It is most likely that continuing to jump from the 5 metre board will hamper their progression. They are probably already shortening their step phase so as not to land it in the sand pit. A short step phase is a common error in young triple jumpers and something we should take measures to overcome.
However . . .
Moving to the 7 metre take-off board appears the obvious and simple answer but the implementation can be far from easy.
There can be quite a psychological barrier to a young athlete taking off from 2 metres further away from the pit than they are used to. We need to remember that not only will their take-off into the hop phase be further back from the pit but so will their take-off into the step phase, and – importantly – their launch into the jump. Many young athletes will fear landing their jump phase short of the pit and therefore on the hard runway. We need to deal with the fact that, up until now, the athlete has probably been landing their step phase close to the edge of the sand pit and then easily jumping into the sand. When using the 7 metre board, the landing of the step phase could be a lot further back from the edge of the sand pit. This will leave much more runway beneath them during their jump, which can be very unnerving for a young athlete.
Apart from having to overcome the athlete’s anxiety, we also need to ensure that the athlete makes the transition to the new board safely. The possibility of them injuring themselves by landing their jump short of the sand and on the runway needs to be minimised.
Firstly, you need to be convinced that athlete is capable of triple jumping well over the distance that the new take-off board is from the pit. E.g. To use the 7 metre board, the athlete must be regularly jumping well over 7 metres.
I then believe that the safest way to make the transition to the new take-off board is to do so in increments.
Most athletics competition standards only allow take-off boards at 2 metre increments beginning 5 metres back from the landing pit. (i.e. 5 metres, 7 metres, 9 metres , etc).
This does not mean, however that you are limited to these specifications in practice.
When transitioning to a new take-off board further away from the pit, I suggest lengthening the take-off point by 50 centimetres at a time.
Therefore, if transitioning from the 5 metre to the 7 metre board, firstly mark or tape a “board” at 5.50 metres. Can the athlete safely land in the pit from 5.50 metres? Move to a 6 metre board. Still ok? Go to a 6.50 metre board. Still landing safely? Try the 7 metre board. Translation accomplished.
This same procedure can be used when moving from the 7 metre to 9 metre board and the 9 metre to the 11 metre board.
Gradually increasing the distance away from the pit of the initial take-off ensures a safe progression and gradually builds the athlete’s confidence to achieve the intended outcome.
Let me know your experiences with triple jump take-off boards!
Do you agree with using the process described above? Do you have an alternative method? What experience do you have with transitioning take-off boards in the triple jump? I would love to hear if you have success using what I have described above. Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using using the below contact details.
Triple Jump Resource
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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, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.