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Long Jump Run-Ups: Why Close Enough Is Good Enough

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.

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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.

Further reading

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 TwitterFacebookLinkedin or via email.

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