Help Kids Learn a Safe Scissors High Jump Take-Off Point
Hitting a good take-off point is an important part of high jumping safely and effectively.
Unfortunately, many people can recount a “high jump horror story” that involves witnessing a young person partially or completely missing the landing mats. Such an incident is often caused by the athlete using an incorrect point of take-off.
In simplest terms, the take-off point should be no further than one-third along the crossbar from the nearest upright. (More specifically, some people measure it to a point that is 3 foot-lengths away from the nearest upright and then 2 foot lengths out away from the bar).
Taking off from a point measured in this way will help to ensure a safe landing in the middle of the mats. It also means that the athlete will more likely pass over the crossbar at its lowest point – the middle. (A high jump crossbar may dip by up to 2cm at its centre).
A number of young athletes are under the impression that they should take-off from in front of the middle of the crossbar. This creates two main problems:
- The athlete is risking landing or rolling off the far edge of the landing area.
- The athlete will not be passing over the crossbar at its lowest point.
A visual guide can be used to help ensure athletes will use a safe and effective take-off point.
My favourite way off doing this on a grass surface is to mark a circle on the ground with a substance like baby powder. I have found this effective in guiding the athlete to a safe take-off point. It also helps to alert kids to abort their jump if they judge that they will not reach this area.
Using such a visual guide can can also assist with two other common errors that young athletes make when scissors high jumping:
Jumping from too close to the bar
Jumping from too close to the bar means that the athlete does not give themselves enough room to execute their jump. The common result is the athlete hitting the bar on the way up.
Jumping from too far away from the bar
Taking off from too far away from the bar means that the athlete will reach the peak height of their jump prior to reaching the bar. They will most likely be coming down when they are above the bar. The common result is that the athlete hits the bar on their downwards flight.
Where possible, I use a powder in preference to cones or any other object that may present a slip or trip hazard. Another advantage of powder is that it leaves no lasting impression on the surface like some other substances such as spray paint may.
What is your favourite high jump run-up coaching cue?
I would love to hear from you. Add to the above article by sharing your favourite cue for teaching a high jump run-up. You may do so by leaving a reply/comment. You can also contact me via the details below.
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.