3 Phrases That Will Help You Teach The Horizontal Jumps To Young Athletes
Have you ever heard terminology that you didn’t understand but were too embarrassed to own up and ask about?
I think that it is more common than people care to admit.
It’s hard – particularly if you are new to something and others around you treat it as assumed knowledge.
If you are new to athletics – and even if you aren’t – hopefully this article can help save you from that awkward moment next time you are down at the track.
Below is a discussion of three terms commonly associated with the horizontal jumps in track and field – otherwise known as the long jump and triple jump.
1. Check Mark
A check mark is a marker that an athlete places next to the runway to identify the starting point of their run-up. A second check mark can be placed further down the runway to help guide the athlete’s run-up accuracy, but this is not necessary for novice athletes.
In informal settings, anything can be used as a check mark – a shoe, a bag or a hat.
In more formal competitive settings a runway check mark is supplied or approved by the the organisers. If not supplied the athlete can use tape, but not chalk or anything that will leave a lasting impression.
For more information about how to measure a run-up and determine the placing of a starting check mark, see the article: How to Teach a Long Jump Run-Up in 7 Easy Steps.
Do really young children need an individualised check mark and run-up? No. If you are working with a group of young kids I recommend simply placing a marker next to the runway 5-10 metres from the pit and instructing all the kids to start their run up from that point.
2. Take-Off Foot
The take-off foot is the foot that is the last to leave the ground on take-off. It is therefore the foot with which the athlete is attempting to jump from in the long jump, or hop from in the triple jump.
In the triple jump it may also refer to the foot that is the last to leave the ground in the step and jump take-offs.
Which foot should a young athlete should use for the long jump take-off or the initial triple jump take-off (i.e. the hop)? I leave it up to the athlete to determine which foot they feel most comfortable with. In fact, it is probably good practice to help kids develop the ability to take off from either foot. It is no doubt great for their athleticism and a useful strategy to deal with the prevalence of young athletes with inconsistent run ups.
For more information about determining the triple jump take-off foot, go to: The Triple Jump Take Off: Which Foot Is Best?
Two common horizontal jump rules associated with the take-off foot are:
- The foot must not touch beyond the take-off foul line.
- An athlete must not take off from two feet.
The make-up of the take-off area will vary between organisations and age groups, so refer to your local rules for more information about this.
3. Penultimate Stride
The penultimate stride is the second-to-last step of the run-up prior to take off.
I mention this seemingly technical term as lots of coaching books and articles promote the idea of using the penultimate stride to lower the centre of gravity prior to take off in the long jump (less so in the triple jump). This lowering allows the athlete to prepare to transfer some of their forward momentum upwards (which is less important in the triple jump).
Don’t try to explicitly coach this penultimate stride lowering to kids, especially to beginners. In fact, don’t even mention the word “penultimate stride” to them.
It will confuse them and really isn’t important at their level. Drawing their thinking to something that should be automatic may interrupt their natural movement patterns and cause more harm than good.
A lowering of the centre of gravity on the penultimate stride can be encouraged implicitly by challenging the kids to long jump over an object held at an appropriate height by the coach – such as a pool noodle.
- A check mark is a marker that an athlete places next to the runway to identify the starting point of their run-up.
- The take-off foot is the foot that is the last to leave the ground on take-off.
- The penultimate stride is the second-to-last step of the run-up prior to take off.
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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.