Rhythm Drills To Improve The Long Jump Run Up

NewsletterRhythm Drills to Improve the Long Jump Run Up….

The aim of the long jump approach is to establish maximum horizontal velocity without inhibiting the take-off.
In practice, the most decisive factor in determining the distance jumped is the SMOOTH linking of a fast approach run to a powerful and well coordinated take-off.
Ter-Ovanesyan [Russia] states that long jumpers must, right from the beginning, be made aware that ‘the approach does NOT FINISH at the board’.

  • The board is regarded only as a part of the total distance to be covered in a smooth relaxed acceleration with increasing concentration and an aggressive approach just before reaching it.
  • Long jumpers must in their training take into consideration the specific characteristics of the approach and not merely follow sprint training procedures.

Speed on the runway is vital and must depend on the jumper’s ability to accelerate to top speed. The approach requires precision in the stride pattern and a consistent rate of acceleration. The general construction of the approach run in the long jump has the coach and jumper developing the following important factors:
1. Length of approach
2. Rate of acceleration
3. Overall speed of the approach
4. Uniformity
5. Rhythm in the last strides
It is apparent that a lot of the jumper’s training MUST be done on the runway at speed. A jumper must establish the speed, control and accuracy for this most important phase.

These methods include: high knee lift runs, various forms of accelerations, downhill runs, technique runs over 30 to 40mts, varied pace runs, rhythm runs, sprint drills and starts.

According to Adams 1983: trends towards the training and development of event specifics for the long jump suggest that it can be divided into three parts:
1. Development of the ability to run ‘in balance’ and adjust to this balance [eg: technique runs, varied pace runs].
2. Development of consistency [stabilization of the approach eg: acceleration runs, rhythm runs, accuracy runs.
3. Development of basic speed. He comments that it is dangerous to assume than an improvement in sheer sprinting speed will lead automatically to improved distances. The jumper MUST learn to use the speed.

  • With all this emphasis on speed on the runway and the complexities of the approach, many problems can emerge. These have been well documented and include:

1. Approach too long or too short
2. Lack of proper rhythm…
3. Slowing down over the last strides…
4. Uncoordinated running, especially over the last strides…
5. Tension throughout the approach and over the last strides…
6. Inhibited by the board…
7. Blocking at the take-off…

Speak with you soon…

Height at Take-off…

NewsletterI’m often asked how you achieve height at take-off. I was asked this last week by Carl, a jumps coach from New Brunswick , Canada…

He asked..

Hi Nigel…What do you use or do to get more vertical height at the board? Most of my athletes are all triple jumpers, I’ve had them go slower and gradually build up speed (can’t seem to find the sweet spot). Used a 4″ box, we used a 4″ ramp and I’ve used flat pylons or small hurdles all with mixed results. They have plyo and strength incorporated into their workouts too. So I’m just curious if you have anything that works for you that I could consider….

Thanks for your reply. In answer to your queries…..

  • Every athlete joining my group knows that I coach sprinter/jumpers. I treat ALL my jumpers as sprinters regardless of their age….
  • We train for maximal speed develpment from the very beginning of the preparation phases. Initially, they are all tested/timed over runs to 30/40…some from a static start and some with an extended roll-on. There are many standardised speed tests that can be implemented…
  • The horizontal jumps in my mind are ‘speed events’ so maximal speed development is paramount. They all run indoor 60mts in competition as well as running 100’s and relay legs in the summer competitive season.
  • With this increase in speed invariaby come lower take-off angles so height is never really emphasised. I don’t want them compromising their speed at the board especially through the last 6 strides to the board. We spend a lot of coaching time running in fast and developing the ability to take-off at high speed. This helps develop reactivity…
  • What we work on is increasing the take-off distance and flight distance to compensate for this lower take-off angle. But more time is spend developing the funcionality of the take-off distance [that dynamic 'split']…
  • I do mention the old adage – speed + height = distance BUT I’m never compelled to really focus on extra height at take-off. Invariably, jumpers who ‘jump high’ don’t always jump far…
  • It’s more difficult if you coach both long and triple because of the huge difference in the take-off angle. I find that the triple jumper experience difficulty when changing to long jump within the same technical session. But as I explained this emphasis on height is less of a problem within my training group.
  • I utilize complex training in my programmes. My training groups love the combination of resistance exercises linked with plyometric exercises. The younger age groups don’t have to include ‘olympic lifts’ but utilize medicine balls and weighted vests.The JUMP SQUAT is my favourite resistance exercise and I incorporate its many variations into my programmes..

Speak with all soon..

Total Long Jump Distance

What does the coach see?I’m sure that most long jump coaches know that the total long jump distance is made up of three separate distances..[or do they?]




1.    The take-off distance….

2.    The flight distance….

3.    The landing distance….

I have written extensively about this in previous blogs. Any improvement in jump performance can be traced back to the effectiveness of the approach run plus any one or all of the above distances.

Although the approach run is considered to be the most important component in horizontal jumping, any improvement in those 3 distances mentioned above will add to jump performance.

I was prompted to write this short blog after observing Greg Rutherford win the European Long Jump title. If you are able to view this jump in slow motion you’ll see that Rutherford is very quick on the runway and after take-off displays an excellent flight and landing distance. His body positioning at the apex of the flight phase with his arms up and behind the head helps him to increase flight distance thus allowing him to land effectively. He initiates his leg chute by bringing his legs through quickly as short levers [first] and then driving the arms forward bringing his chest to his thighs [not inlike a pike position] and still looking up and slightly forwards.

If he had executed a better take-off distance his jump would probably have been in excess of 8.40m…

No film clip available as yet but will upload it  when it arrives on You Tube and you’ll be able to see what I mean.

I shall be expanding on this aspect in my next Friday Jumps Newsetter. Having observed hundreds of talented long jumpers performing and competing this summer I’m not so sure that long jump coaches are aware of the advantages of increasing the take-off distance, the flight distance and the landing distance…

Speak with all soon…

Winter Preparation for Jumps

Coaching Junior AthletesWell, here it comes again. Another winter preparation for jumps. At my stage of my coaching career I really need some motivation to spend countless hours away from my new home and garden…!

I’ve lost count of the time I’ve spent with athletes in both training and competitive situations over the past 40 years so need a few good reasons why I need to continue coaching.

My training group are nearly at the end of a long, hard competitive season. They are all in need of a good recovery so that they come back at the end of September totally refreshed both physically and mentally ready to put in the hard work….

We’ve had a good, competitive season. Quite a few personal best perfromances and representative honours but always ‘room for improvement’…

We’ve still got a few competitions left but a coaches thoughts should now be tuning in to the ‘next’ competitive season.

The majority of jumps coaches are involved with the younger age groups aged 14 to 18 years of age. The age of 18 brings along major lifestyle problems. They are now in the U20 age [in the UK] – not sure what it’s called in other parts of the world. This age group heralds the introduction to ‘real athletics’ where training programmes change and the mental approach to the sport changes dramatically.

But if they have received quality coaching and guidance in their formative years this transition becomes less of a problem and the changeover becomes seamless…

Throughout the next 6 months I shall be writing blogs on training the junior jumper through those skill hungry years into the junior age group and beyond. My planning is crucial…..

If you have any queries or suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me on….

Please tell us how you begin to plan your training programmes..


So away to go….

From Nowhere to Somewhere…

NewsletterHaving worked for over 40 years with a very wide range of athletic abilities from the very experienced jumper to the very young jumper, I am now in a position to reflect on which age range I prefer to work with…

Working with any age range and ability brings along its own set of problems. In my experience, working with the more experienced jumpers who have competed at the highest level is very demanding and time consuming,  but at the same time incredibly rewarding. Working in the ‘development’ age groups [13-17] is also rewarding, but offers the jumps coach a different form of coaching which is not unlike ‘teaching’. It’s like an apprenticeship where they learn their trade. You need to be a very different type of coach..

The more experienced jumpers often join your training group having had quite an extensive ‘coaching tree’ of previous coaches. They go to University leaving behind their club coaches who have worked with them for several years and they now have to adapt to a new set of ‘skills and drills’ and coaching styles.

Some are selected for major championships and have to adapt again to the the coaching style and delivery of the appointed jumps coach for the national squad/team.

They attend regional and national squad training days and yet again presented with another differing training regime and practice. They come back and give you  feedback and ask why they are not doing what other jumpers in the country are doing….!!

Many of the top horizontal coaches have inherited quality jumpers who have come up and through the various age groups having achieved success at junior level. These lucky coaches are blessed with not having to do  the ‘donkey work’. The early stages of learning have already been done. These talented jumpers know how to warm up, they know how to drill, they know how to run a runway, they are well versed in the simple bio-mechanical processes that will allow them to run, touchdown take-off and land….

This ‘top coach’ simply polishes them up. He adds the small details that will allow a 7.50m male jumper to leap out to nearer 8.00mts and a 6.00mt female jumper to leap out to 6.40mts+….

In my opinion this is the easier work…..

Continue reading


Coaching Junior AthletesI haven’t had time this past month to update my website. I moved very recently and can’t find anything…!!

My wife is working me to the bone and wants everything done ‘yesterday’…

But just settling into a routine and will be able to put fingers to keyboard very soon.

Still working on a blog entitled ‘From Nowhere to Somewhere’…..

Speak with you all soon,

All the very best,


The Long Jump Landing

NewsletterThe Long Jump Landing – the Leg Chute..

Key factor: The inclination of the jumper’s trunk…

KEY: If the jumper leans well forward during the FINAL moments of the flight phase, the legs are lifted in reaction to this movement and the touchdown is slightly delayed.

I know I’ve talked about this many times before BUT it is important. A good landing position can add 30cms to a jump….

It’s something I’ve been working on very hard these past few weeks with all my long jumpers. It makes sense…..

It is a timing issue and does require a lot of practice with a lot of very relevant feedback. But it’s worth it.

I’m insisting that all my group attempt to ‘press their chests to their legs [see below]…..

Landing 11

Speak with you all soon…

What Do Coaches See?

What does the coach see?Recently I asked two fellow coaches to take a look at one of my training group performing an action….

I did this because I wanted some objective feedback….

At times you can get ‘so close’ to an athlete in your training group and might miss a very obvious weakness or indeed a strength.

After the athlete had performed the skill/drill several times I asked the these two experienced coaches what they saw.

They both immediately told me all the percieved weaknesses they observed. Neither commented on what the athlete did well.

Now, this athlete is a very good athlete and strengths outperform weaknesses but it was very illuminating that they both ONLY observed weaknesses.

They made NO comment on the obvious strengths….

These type of comments are very typical of the majority of coaches. I come from a teaching background and for 28 years taught countless thousands of youngsters aged 11 – 18 years of age. I am well-versed in observation skills, analytical analysis and the giving of relevant and specific feedback..

It does concern me that the new breed of coach can only see what’s wrong. Yes, athletes will do certain skills and drills poorly at first, but to be constantly told what is wrong could be detrimental to their skilled development.

Some recent research indicates that if you concentrate on the strengths and encourage that strength it might have the effect of negating any weaknesses…

But to constantly focus on weaknesses is wrong.

When I coach and observe a drill or skill, I call the athlete over and the first thing I discuss is ‘what went well’ and ‘why it went well’. Only after highlighting the strengths do I focus on a ‘major’ weakness’ and how it might be rectified..

Speak with you soon…



NewsletterProprioception is achieved through muscles, ligaments and joint actions using messages that are continuously sent through the central nervous system [CNS].

The CNS then relays information to the rest of the body ‘telling’ it how to react and with what amount  of tension/action.

Ssome of these instructions go to the brain, where more often than not they acted on unconsciously, whilst others go to the spinal cord, where they are acted on automatically.

Proprioceptors are basically ‘sensors’ that reside within muscles, joints and ligaments. These respond to pressure, stretch and tension and are key im iniating what is known as the stretch reflex.

Proprioception is the capacity of the body to determine where all of its parts are positioned at any given time, and it plays an important role in the world of sports especially athletics and jumping…..

Think of it as a subconscious internal computer software programme that complements your conscious effort to stabilize everything, whether you’re moving or standing still. It triggers muscles to contract and relax to fit the situation.

You don’t have to think about it because your ‘internal software’ is reacting to the situation and sending instant messages to help your body make the necessary adjustments. Proprioception is also a factor in speed and direction of movement. Proprioception helps us perform better in sports and avoid injuries. Losing it because of an injury or lack of use requires a period of re-training to get it back.

There’s a fine line between proprioception and kinaesthetic awareness. Although some people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference.

Kinaesthetic awareness is a conscious effort to react to the situation, while proprioception is an unconscious or subconscious process.

The two mechanisms work together to allow a smooth, efficient, and safe platform for movement and athletic performance. For example, a long jumper whose body acts subconsciously (proprioception) to stay tall on the runway while the jumper’s mind (kinaesthetic awareness) processes data regarding environmental issues [wind, rain, surface conditions] and anything else he or she needs to make necessary limb adjustments when running at high speeds to the take-off board….

WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS?…………… Continue reading

A Runway Coaching Tip…

Shaping the flight styleAre your jumpers still fouling too much? Are you still looking for that skill or drill or coaching point that will make a difference?. Are you searching for those ‘magic words’ that will help the cause?

Try this…

I’ve a 17 year old female jumper whose strength is in the last six strides, especially the last two strides. This optimal speed to the board [without too great a speed loss] is her strength and we musn’t compromise it.

Any jumper can find the board and not foul if they slow down…

But she’s fouling marginally a lot and the resultant jumps are ‘big’ but obviously fouls, so don’t count. We are waiting for that little bit of luck that all jumpers need but the season is moving on.

I’ve been racking my brains for several weeks to come up with a solution. Last week I tried this….

I asked her to keep her eyes on the board ALL THE WAY down the runway BUT she musn’t drop the head forward, but only move the eyes so that the board is sighed throughout the length of the approach run. The head must be kept in a neutral position. I likened it to a car on ‘dipped headlights’……

I then asked her to ‘change her line of vision’ by raising her eyes so that now she was looking forwards – this change was to occur within the last six strides to the board.

I likened this to switching from dipped headlights to main beam…

All she had to do was raise her eyes without altering her head position.

After several run-throughs coupled with an active pop-up from the board and going into a held-thigh position she began to hit the centre of the board a lot more……

It’s possible that this subtle eye and head positioning is enhancing her spatial awarness and she is altering and refining her body positioning prior to touchdown and take-off slightly earlier……

It’s a work in progress and will keep you informed…

PS: Take a look at this coaching article written by Mike Powell [WR Holder for Long Jump 8.95m]…


Speak with you soon…

A Long Jump Training Unit

J3Below is a short video of James, a member of our training group working on take-off and flight phase mechanics in a long jump training unit…

He is using this drill just as an extension of his dynamic warm up.

He would probably perform 6-8 repetitions of this twice a week. Very important to place this drill into the whole skill at the end of the training unit. He would jump 3 times from his full approach…

Speak with you soon….



New 2014 Season Starts…

Shaping the flight styleIt’s the new competitive season here in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to see if all the planning and training will reap rewards. My group started their seasons in various parts of the UK…

Some were in Gloucester, one in Birmingham and a few were competing at a cold and windy Cwmbran Stadium…

I attended the meetings in Cwmbran. The Saturday meeting was a Welsh Junior League Meeting for U11, 13 and 15’s. I haven’t been to one of these meetings for decades and was amazed at the number of young athletes taking part. There appeared to be ‘thousands’ of them in every event….

Contrast this to the Youth Development Meeting the next day for U17 and U20 athletes. It was a case of spot the athlete!!

Many events had 2 or fewer athletes competing which was a shame…

What happens between the age of 15 to 17 years of age? What are we as a sport doing to retain athlete participation from the ages of 16 – 20. It appears not a lot. It was quite depressing…

It was a shame for the athlete and the coaches that the weather was not that kind. But then, it is still April. These youngsters train all through the winter to then be confronted with cold and windy conditions which obviously doesn’t help performance.

But I’m still puzzled and confused about his massive drop off in athlete participation after the U17 age grouping..

Any thoughts? Email me at nigel.lewis2a@virgin.net

My own group posted some useful early season performances which has given me some encouragement BUT still too many fouls…!!!

Speak with you soon…