Long Jump Tips and Video

The long jump takeoff is off of one foot and the landing is with both feet.  Start by jumping with two feet into the pit. Introduce standing on one foot and jumping onto two feet. Alternate legs and practice on both legs. 

Practice short jumps with the left leg and the right leg to determine the best foot for the event.

Slowly introduce walking and jogging with a jump. Emphasize a controlled run in a ‘tall’ position, with the takeoff leg slightly in front of the body. Focus on keeping the takeoff leg on the ground as the athlete moves forward and up.

Introduce more advanced running and jumping for height from a jogging (4-8 strides) approach.

Coaches can use a bar to focus on height during the jump. Set a bar at an easy (low) height to start with and then progressive by raising the bar higher. Emphasize quick steps and a high knee drive at takeoff.

Practice jumping from 20' and 25' and 30' away to help establish an approach. Athletes should start slow for 2-3 strides, speed up, and hit 85-90% speed during the last few strides.

Long Jump and Triple Jump Coaching Tips

Safety Considerations

The long jump pit must be clean and level.

The running surface must be firm and even.

The takeoff area must be able to withstand the full force of an athlete's foot strike.

Wear proper shoes with support to withstand the impact of the sport with a good grip and not slip on the takeoff area.

Takeoff boards should be flush with the surface of the ground.

Athletes should wear shoes with support and shock protection.

Keep the equipment such as rakes, forks, and shovels outside the landing area with the prongs facing down.

Long Jump Technique Points

Increase speed during the last four to five strides.

Plant the takeoff foot slightly in front of the body.

The jumper drives the free leg (bent at the knee) into the air and arms are used to assist and control the movement into the air.

Movement in the air should be simple of beginners, with a single leg drive and extension or hang style technique.

The thighs are lifted up on the descent and the foot brought out in front of the body to prepare for the landing.

Legs bend at the hips and knees, allowing the body to pass over heels when landing in the sand.

Approach Lengths

The athlete runs at a steady pace, keeping sprinting form and the coach counts the steps. For the competition, youth jumpers can reach optimal speed usually in 8 to 10 strides. This is not maximal speed, optimal speed is the fastest running possible while executing good technique for the best distance.

Coaching Point: practice the approach run to get consistent foot placement on or near the board. After the approach run is consistent, add a takeoff or easy jump after the run.

The athlete runs at a steady pace, keeping sprinting form and the coach counts the steps. For the competition, youth jumpers can reach optimal speed usually in 8 to 10 strides. This is not maximal speed, optimal speed is the fastest approach speed possible to jump the greatest distance.

Approach Options

  • 2 to 6 walking steps into a long jump (single leg)
  • 2 to 6 jogging steps into a long jump (single leg)
  • 6 step approach jumps 
  • 8 step approach jumps 
  • 10 step approach jumps 

Many coaches of youth athletes use age +/- 1 or 2 as a guide for the length of the run-up.

Build up speed and move the approach back one to two strides as the jumper improves.

Depending on the age and ability of the developing athlete, the approach could be up to16 running strides with maximum controlled speed to optimize jumping distance. The top long jumpers in high school and college use up to a 20 stride approach during competition.

Teaching fundamental movements to prepare young athletes is the first step to long-term success for the jumping events.

Coaching Tip: Preparing for the approach should take place on the track and not on the runway. After the basic running technique is developed, a long jumper can learn how to move down the runway to prepare for the takeoff.

Teaching Beginners to Long Jump

Takeoff Basics

Start by walking down the track with three step pop ups barely getting the take off leg off the ground, then advance to pop ups with a big lead knee drive, aggressively driving the arms (opposite arm/knee drive).

More specific jumping movements for the long jump include easy bounding, driving the lead knee up, the focus is on height and not distance with the simple bounding exercises.  Jogging into one bound, then repeating the motion down the track, can follow the basic bounding exercises. Then advance this drill to jogging into pop ups, 3-5 steps with a pop up down the track up to 50 meters.

Standing Long Jump Variations

Standing long jump variations can be trained to learn the take off and landing basics for the long jump. Start on the edge of the long jump pit with the feet approximately shoulder width apart, bend the knees, push off the ground with the feet and swing the arms forward. Land in the sand with both feet flat and let the knees give a little and hold both arms straight out during the landing.

Next, perform the same exercise then pause, and add kicking the feet out and landing in the lower body in the sand. Then, try a regular standing long jump landing in the sand with the heels first, sliding the knees up to the heels.

Approaches with Long Jump

Add a three-step approach and five-step approach. Working back to a 12 step approach for more advanced long jumpers.

Soft Landing Drills

Using a ramp and jumping into a high jump it can help teach proper landing mechanics. Using 5-7 steps and taking off into the high jump pit is a good lower impact exercises for long jumpers.

Standing on the high jump mat and jumping up, kicking the feet forward and reaching the hands to the toes is another good exercises for the landing in the long jump.

Running Technique

Developing proper sprint mechanics is an important part of consistent runway management.

Triple Jump Tips

The triple jump is one continuous jump consisting of three phases:  hop, step (bound), and long jump.

Triple Jump Technique Points

Practice the takeoff from both feet.

Sequence: hop, land on the same foot as the hop, step (bound),  land on the opposite foot, and long jump. 

Aim for an even rhythm and approximately even distances throughout the three phases.

The approach run must be controlled, and accurate at optimal not maximum speed at the takeoff board.

Emphasize an active landing, an upright body position, and an even rhythm during the different phases.

The jumper should land flat footed and drive forward and up into the next position.

The athlete runs and hops, the knee of the hopping leg is brought through flexed and high.

The body is kept upright in the hop and step phases.

The knee is held high in the step and held, similar to floating through the air.

Drive the free leg and arms high into the air to prepare for the final phase, the jump.

The hop and step landings must be ‘active’, pushing and driving forward with continuous movement.

The triple jump is a very demanding event, training should be closely monitored.

Coaching Youth in the Triple Jump 

Athletes can start with different combinations of jumping movements that include:

  • Standing triple jump from both legs
  • 2 to 4 walking steps into a triple jump (both legs)
  • 2 to 4 jogging steps into a triple jump (both legs)
  • 4 step approach jumps 
  • 6 step approach jumps
  • Multiple hops
  • multiple bounds
  • Multiple hops to multiple bounds
  • Multiple bounds to long jump
  • Multiple hops to multiple bounds to long jump

Start with standing jumps before adding speed.

Add combination jumps that are controlled, marked by cones or chalk.

Keep the jumps at a similar distance, for example, place 5 cones approximately 2' apart, the athlete hops 5 times on one foot to the cones, not past the cones. 

Slowly increase the distance of the approach and the distance between the cones as the athlete progressively gets better. 

Short Approach Triple Jump for Youth

6 step triple jump

8 step triple jump

10 step triple jump

Takeoff Drills for Youth Triple Jump

4 step and takeoff repeats down the track

8 step and takeoff repeats down the track 

*add phases 1 and 2 and land in the sand

For more advanced jumping tips to gain distance, check out this article from Stack Media

Advice From Boo Schexnayder (Team USA Coach) 

In my formative years of coaching, I became intrigued with the takeoff from the board in the triple jump. Drawing upon my coaching experience in this and other events, there were several factors I was convinced were important to success.

Of course, I was sure that deceleration was to be avoided at takeoff.

Secondly, I was sure that the recovery of the free leg during the hop phase was reflexive and dependant upon stretch reflexes developed in that leg at takeoff.

Thirdly, displacement of the body during takeoff (beyond the board and the planted takeoff foot) was essential to developing these reflexes.

Finally, the free leg action at takeoff had much to do with the ability to maintain posture and control rotation at this point. successful.

I observed many athletes who displaced well, maintained horizontal velocity, and exhibited the same free leg action. Yet, they experienced various degrees of success and showed differences in their ability to enter the step phase properly.

I even continued to see athletes who seemingly gathered or set up the takeoff from the board (generally considered a fault), yet were consistently successful.

Another complicating and contributing factor was that I had seen many athletes who were seemingly always seeking some way to increase the time spent on the board and increase impulse values (impulse equals the product of force and time). I refused to believe that these athletes were all wrong.

I believed that they inherently sensed a need for greater impulse development and a bit more time on the board, but maybe didn’t know exactly how to go about it.

The Experimentation
My first reaction was to maximize displacement in the athletes I coached. Again, I received various results. The timing involved in the hop leg cycle was different from one athlete to the next. Then something occurred to me.

Because of my observations with the athletes who gathered or lowered, I began to experiment with low- ering the center of mass in the final steps with certain athletes. This was done in an effort to displace even more and further increase the stretch reflex on the hop leg.

The rationale was simple; since the leg itself was of fixed length, if the body’s center of mass were lower, the center of mass could be moved farther beyond the board while the foot was still on the board.

The angle created between the leg and the ground beyond the board would be more acute and the horizontal displacement would be increased. This strategy met with mixed results. A couple of athletes immediately improved, while others worsened because of the typical problems encountered in all jumps when the center of mass is lowered and athletes do not run properly.

This strategy met with mixed results. A couple of athletes immediately improved, while others worsened because of the typical problems encountered in all jumps when the center of mass is lowered and athletes do not run properly.

This mixed success led to the development of a new approach to teaching this takeoff.

Specifically, I decided to teach lowering the center of mass slightly, but to allow this lowering to occur during the support phase of the takeoff step, once the athlete had passed the planted takeoff foot in order to eliminate the deceleration normally associated with lowering.

The Implementation
I began to teach the triple jumpers to run comfortably with a high center of mass, place the foot on the board, and then allow the shin to rotate forward during support more than in a normal stride. This rotation of the shin lowered the body slightly once it had passed the takeoff foot. It also placed the knee in front of the ankle and placed pressure on the ball of the foot.

The athlete, upon reaching this position, was then instructed to violently extend the hip, perceivably pushing against the pressure felt on the ball of the foot.

In this case, the response was immediate. Every jumper in the group improved dramatically.

Reasons for Success

It seems that this technique of lowering the body slightly once it has passed the takeoff foot crated the potential for greater success in several ways.

The lowering does permit greater horizontal displacement of the body while still in support, as previously discussed.

The opportunity to lower once past the takeoff foot seems to increase time spent on the board slightly, fulfilling the athlete's sensed need for greater impulse values at takeoff. Also, because this opportunity to lower the center of mass exists, it seems to lessen the temptation for athletes to lower improperly in the final few steps, thus con- serving precious velocity.

The fraction of a second of passive yielding and waiting while the shin rotates forward improves the ability to extend the hip and push forcefully. The tibia rotates forward and then stops, enabling the force created at the hip to be applied along the long axis of the shin in a more efficient arrangement. This is very similar to that which we see in other jump takeoffs.

This more forceful extension results in greater stretch reflex development in the leg, assisting the speedy recovery of the leg into the hop cycle. In short, rather than just running off the board, the athlete is able to push off of the board, setting up a more elastic recovery. Reexamination of those successful jumpers who visibly lowered or gathered prior to takeoff showed that they all, in some way manipulated the body into a position from which they could push in this manner. This later study showed these athletes all achieved the shin positions described and employed a very aggressive hip extension and push off from the board.

This technique enables the hip to extend an instant later. This later extension seemingly delays the recovery of the leg in the hop cycle a bit. This delay eliminates the possibility of premature cycling of the hop leg, and the chance it may ground excessively in front of the jumper’s center of mass and destroy the hop phase.

This technique results in a lower trajectory of flight during the hop phase.

This not only lessens the chances of crashing in the hop landing, but the lower trajectory provides a vertical path of acceleration for the athlete when the hop phase is entered. In short, the flatter hop sets up a higher step, much as the lowering that occurs on the penultimate step of the long jump sets up a higher takeoff angle at takeoff.

Potential Problems
While I have encountered no problems when the technique is properly executed, these are common errors the athletes experience or coaching challenges which result.

Lowering In the Final Steps. This lowering is usually associated with pressing and impatience. The final steps of the approach should be very smooth and controlled, and the athlete’s center of mass should be located as high as possible until the takeoff foot contacts the board. The athlete should not try to create any additional velocity or momentum in the final few steps. The goal here should be attainment and preservation of a good body position.

Premature Firing on the Board. Often athletes will try to takeoff immediately upon contact with the board in a pulling type or grabbing type movement against the board. They should be taught to be patient and allow rotation of the tibia for an instant before attempting to takeoff. Wait and push, don’t pull.

Poor Free Leg Movement. The forward moving free leg and the takeoff leg work in unison. If the free leg is not moving aggressively forward and covering significant distance during the support phase, the hop leg extension will be compromised. Certain athletes react better to free leg cues than they do to takeoff leg cues.

Handling Higher Velocities. As in all skills, the cueing systems used at slow speeds may not be effective at high speeds. At low speeds, it is very easy for the athletes to feel the shin rotate, the knee moves down and forward, and an aggressive push off. At high velocities, these are hard to feel.

I have had much more success at high velocities by cueing pressure on the ball of the takeoff foot, and by cueing the path of the center of mass.

This path should consist of a slight lowering of the hips beyond the board, followed by a leveling off and flat trajectory into the hop phase.

Appearance vs. Reality
The concept described, when performed at competition speeds, is subtle and at times possibly very difficult to see. Good coaches know that what we see on video is not necessarily what athletes feel at high speeds.

The approach I have found successful is to perform the technique more radically at slow speeds in practice, and then to keep a touch of that feeling during competition.

In short, my experimentation with this technique has been most rewarding. The improved performances have obviously been a welcome result. However, the development of this idea, observation of its implementation, and the results have answered many, many long standing questions that I have struggled to answer throughout my coaching career. Finally finding these answers is perhaps more rewarding.


Travis Geopfert is recognized as one of the best coaches in the United States in the field events, his athletes have won SEC Championships, National Championships and competed in the Olympic Games.

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