Let’s Stress Less About Hitting The Take-Off Board
Too many young athletes unnecessarily stress about their long or triple jump run-up.
They become too concerned about “hitting the board”, fearful that they won’t and dejected if they don’t.
Some get so wound up and preoccupied with their run-up that they ruin their ability to jump. I’ve seen kids virtually tip-toe down the runway and slow almost to a jog as they attempt to achieve the perfect foot placement on the board. I have seen kids become so anxious about achieving run-up perfection that they forget which foot to start forward. I have watched kids get close to a meltdown as they continuously move their run-up marker, frantically searching for the the ideal starting point to achieve pinpoint accuracy on the take-off board.
With kids, hitting the board is great if it happens but it is not a prerequisite for a good jump. Run-up accuracy is a success factor but is not THE main determining factor of a good jump. Far more important is the athlete’s speed at take-off, and too much focus on the take-off board can detract from achieving this.
A jump’s success is not judged upon the accuracy of the run-up but some young athletes are taught and coached as if it is. There is no rule governing that an athlete must hit the board.
I encourage coaches and parents to take the pressure off young athletes by decreasing the focus on achieving pinpoint accuracy with foot placement on the take-off board. Getting close is OK. Almost hitting the board is OK.
Alternatively, I recommend that the focus is initially placed upon achieving a fast, accelerating run-up, with an aggressive take-off, which ultimately will have more value for the athlete.
If this can be achieved, I think that close enough is good enough when it comes to run-up accuracy.
Do you agree?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree? Do you have an alternative viewpoint? Am I being too dismissive of the importance of run-up accuracy? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the below contact details.
Coaching Young Athletes E-Book:
How To Teach Young Athletes To Long Jump (plus bonus cheat sheet)
How to Teach a Long Jump Run-Up in 7 Easy Steps
Where to Stand on the Long Jump Board to Measure a Run-Up
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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.