Author Archives: Darren Wensor

High Jump Tactics for Young Athletes

Two Key Strategies To Unlock High Jump Success

High jump is an event that requires a combination of physical and mental skills. For young athletes aiming to excel in this discipline, it’s essential for them to develop smart strategies that optimise their performance. In this article, we will explore two high jump tactics that can significantly enhance a young athlete’s chances of success: practicing close to their personal best (PB) and starting competition heights closer to their PB.

Tactic 1: Practicing Within 10-15cm of Your PB

By consistently practicing jumps within a range of 10-15cm from your PB, you create a training environment that mimics the competitive setting. This approach serves two vital purposes: building confidence and refining technique.

Practicing close to your PB helps to cultivate confidence. It allows you to become accustomed to attempting heights that are within your reach but at the edges of your comfort zone. Additionally, it is beneficial to become accustomed to facing and approaching the bar at challenging heights. Without sufficient experience of encountering the bar raised near, at or even above your PB, anxiety and doubt may arise, hindering your path to success.

Also, this tactic enables you to challenge and refine your technique. By consistently approaching heights near your PB, you become familiar with the mechanics required for successful jumps. The more you repeat these actions at heights close to your PB, the more ingrained they become in your muscle memory. On the other hand, practicing with bars set at lower heights that fail to provide adequate challenge can lead to lazy and sloppy mechanics. Striving for higher heights that demand greater effort and focus encourages the development of a more robust technique. In fact, counterintuitively, a higher bar can sometimes cure technical errors seen at lower heights.

Tactic 2: Starting Higher in Competition

Another crucial aspect of high jump strategy for young athletes is the decision on when to start in a competition. It is tempting to begin at a low height to gain early success, but this approach can actually hinder performance in the long run. Instead, it is advisable to start competition heights closer to your PB.

Starting too low in a competition can be counterproductive. While clearing these early heights may boost confidence initially, it can also exhaust valuable energy and lead to fatigue as the bar is raised. By the time the heights approach your true potential, you may find yourself drained both physically and mentally, compromising your ability to jump your PB or achieve greater heights.

To optimize your performance, it is recommended to set your starting height no less than 10-15cm below your PB. For example, if your PB stands at 1.45m, begin the competition no lower than 1.30m. This strategy allows you to conserve energy for the more challenging heights, ensuring you are fresh and focused when it matters most.


Mastering the high jump requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses both physical and mental aspects. Incorporating these two key tactics into your training and competition routine can help you maximise your potential as a high jumper. Remember to practice jumps close to your PB to build confidence and refine technique, while also starting competition heights closer to your PB to conserve energy and optimise performance. With patience, perseverance, and planning, you can soar to new heights.

If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.

Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.

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