What Will Help Young Athletes Overcome Their Triple Jump Anxiety?
What is the biggest fear of young athletes who triple jump?
It’s not “making” the pit and landing on the runway.
This fear will often manifest itself when an athlete is transitioning to a new triple jump board – one that is 2 metres further away from the pit.
Let’s use the example of a young athlete who is transitioning from the 7 metre board to the 9 metre board.
Why The Fear?
The fear of landing on the runway is a result of two main factors that emerge when moving to a new take-off board.
1. The Athlete Won’t Land As Far Into The Sand
The new take-off board will be 2 metres further away from the pit. Therefore the athlete will not land as far into the pit as what they would usually do.
For example, an athlete who triple jumps 10 metres from the 7 metre board will land a comfortable 3 metres into the pit.An athlete who jumps 10 metres from the 9 metre board will land just 1 metre into the sand. This can cause some anxiety for the athlete.Many become scared that they will clip the edge of the pit or fully land on the runway.
2. The Athlete’s Jump Phase Will Begin Much Further Back From The Pit
A triple jump is made up of three take-offs: a “hop” take-off, a “step” take-off and a “jump” take-off. When the hop take-off is 2 metres further back from the pit, the jump take-off will also be much further away from the pit than what they have become comfortable with. Much more runway will appear before them as they prepare to launch into the jump.
This can be psychologically very confronting. Up to this point they have been most likely jumping from quite close to the pit and easily making the distance. For example, an athlete recording a 10 metre triple jump from the 7 metre board will most likely launch into the jump phase only 50cm to 1 metre away from the pit.When jumping from the 9 metre board, they may begin the jump phase 2.5 to 3 metres from the sand.To compound the problem, due to many athletes beginning their hop phase on their preferred leg, they will take off for the jump phase on their non-preferred and probably weaker leg.
Many young athletes will perform the jump take-off from their non-preferred leg.
Their other experience with horizontal jumping in athletics would most likely have been long jump – where they take off with their preferred leg from a board only one metre from the pit.
Now they are being asked to “long jump” from their non-preferred leg 2.5 to 3 metres back from the pit.
The challenge is obvious and the accompanying fear is understandable.
One solution is to incrementally move a young athlete’s hop take-off further back from the pit. For example, instead of going straight from a 7 metre to a 9 metre board, the athlete might first practice from a 7.5 metre board, then a 8 metre board, then an 8.5 metre board, before attempting the 9 metre board. This allows the athlete to gradually get used to landing in less sand and having to jump over more runway. To learn more about this approach, click HERE.
Long Jump From The “Jump” Phase Take-Off Point
Another piece of the solution is to practice long jumping into the landing pit – using both preferred and non-preferred legs – from the new point at which their jump phase will begin. This will help a young athlete become familiar with the feeling of launching from further back on the runway.
NOTE: When first learning to long jump from the non-preferred leg, it is worthwhile incrementally increasing the take-off distance from the pit.
Perform long jumps off the non-preferred foot.
To perform this “triple jump long jump” drill, work out approximately from where on the runway an athlete’s jump take-off will occur. Using the formula that an “ideal” triple jump is 35% hop, 30% step and 35% jump, it is easy to calculate from approximately where the jump phase will take place. For a 10 metre triple jump from the 9 metre board, the hop will begin at the board, the step will begin at 3.5 metres and the jump will begin at 6.5 metres, which is 2.5 metres from the sand pit.
Place some type of take-off marker at this point and allow the athlete to long jump from the marker using a short running approach.
Long jumping off the non-preferred foot from 2.5 metres away from the pit will become a handy confidence-building drill.
Now You Try It
If you coach or parent an athlete who is struggling to transition to a new triple jump board, include some long jumping off their non-preferred foot as part of their program. I would love to hear how it works for you and the athlete. Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the below contact details.
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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.