The Best Place To Start With Young Long Jumpers
If you are introducing long jump to complete beginners I suggest that you begin at the end.
One of the keys to achieving a basic long jump working technique is the ability to land on two feet in the sand.
Without sufficient teaching a lot of kids will leap from one foot to the other, practically stepping or running into the landing pit.
This is a very common problem that is usually caused by athletes who lack the ability to run, take-off from one foot and land on two feet.
Where To Start With Young Long Jumpers
I find the best place to start is with a standing long jump.
I choose this activity because:
- It gives the kids confidence in safely landing in the pit.
- It helps to develop a safe two-foot landing.
- It teaches the athletes how to use their arms to assist the distance of the jump.
If you are working with a group, the athletes line up in “teams” along the side of the pit behind ground markers. A hoop may be placed at the head of each line to designate from where the athletes must jump.
- Perform a standing long jump into the sand pit.
- Pause in their landing position.
- Quickly move out the way to allow the next person in line to safely jump.
Teach the kids to:
1. Use Their Feet Together
Take off and land on two feet.
2 Bend and Stretch
- Bend their legs and swing their arms back when preparing to take-off.
- “Stretch out” or “reach” to an object whilst in the air.
- “Land like a frog” with bent legs in the sandpit.
A simple coaching cue is: “Bend, stretch, bend”. (You may be amazed at how many of the athletes cannot coordinate this action).
3. Use Their Arms
Swing their arms forward and up at take-off. Asking them to clap their hands above their heads whilst in the air can be a fun way to teach this movement. Alternatively, ask them to imagine that they are “jumping up and swinging on monkey bars” or “jumping up to swing on a trapeze“.
4. Coordinate The Landing
Land with their feet close together and at the same time. (“Make one noise, not two when you land.”)
Watch for those athletes who land with straight, stiff legs in the sandpit/and or bend forward at just the hips, rather than at the knees.
Encourage a “head up – bottom down” landing rather than a “head down – bottom up landing”. Asking them to “make hand-prints in the sand” next to their feet or to “grab the sand” near their feet is also effective in helping them to achieve a more correct landing position.
Try the following skill progressions:
1. Jump the River
Draw a line in the sand that the athletes have to attempt to jump over i.e. “Jump the River”.
2. One Foot Take-Off
Landing on two feet from a one-leg balance.
3. Hoop Step-Jump
Line up two hoops in front of the child. The child steps into the first hoop with one foot, jumps, then lands in the second hoop with two feet. This can also be done repeatedly along a row of hoops.
Walk, take-off from one foot and land on two feet from hoop to hoop, or into a sand pit.
When you introduce long jump to complete beginners, I suggest beginning with the end of the jump – the landing.
The standing long jump can be used to:
- Give kids confidence landing in the pit.
- Develop a safe two-foot landing.
- Teach the kids to use their arms.
- A 2-foot take-off and landing.
- Swinging arms forward and up (or towards a target) on take-off.
- Making “one noise” on landing.
Would you use this activity as your long jump starting point?
What are your thoughts on this as a long jump starting point? Let me know by leaving a comment/reply or by using the contact details below.
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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.