How to Coach Primary School Long Jump

Help your child or primary school athlete become an olympic long jumper!

You are a proud parent, or long jump coach, and it’s driving you mad when you see naturally-talented, fit, young athletes going to waste. Here are the tips to help you help them:

The two main objectives:

Remove the fear of over-stepping the take-off board, and demonstrate what the combination of speed and height achieves.

Run-up procedure:

The take-off foot is the foot that lands on the take-off board

To determine a take-off foot if the child is unsure:

Do not tell the child or children what you plan to do;
Gently give them a push from behind which makes them instinctively step forward;
More times than not, the foot that does not step forward is the take-off foot.
Athlete stands with back to sandpit;
Toe of take-off foot in centre of take-off board, not the heel of foot!;
Runs hard, away from the sandpit, where you are standing to see where their toe lands;
The athlete must run right past you to a “finish line” further away;
You must be watching where their take-off foot lands as they run;
Mark where the front of the toe has landed somewhere in the area close to you;
If the child is not tired, and if it is not windy, trying out the run-up should be spot-on.

 What to do if the run-up is not spot on; this is indicated by:

Over-stepping the board;
Taking off from before the board;
Toe on board, but obviously stretching to make sure it lands there;
Toe on board, but obviously slowing down to make sure it lands there.

Instruct the child to run straight through the sandpit, instead of jumping;
Instruct the child not to worry about the take-off board, but to just run as if sprinting in a race;
Take note of the measurement between toe and board, either over or behind.

If the toe is over the board by eg. 15 centimetres, the marker from where the athlete starts his or her run-up, should be moved back at least 15 centimetres.

If the toe is before the board by eg. 15 centimetres, the marker from where the athlete starts his or her run-up, should be moved forward, not more than 15 centimetres.

How to save time, waste of energy, and worry once the run-up is correct:

To avoid having to repeat the run-up procedure at each new training session, or athletics day, or inter-school’s event, measure the entire run-up with a long tape measure, or even a long piece of string.  Thereafter, the run-up may just have to be adjusted slightly, once tested, which may be due to an athlete’s energy levels or wind factor conditions.

How to demonstrate that height + speed = a good distance:

Have the children sit down on the field, each with a small stone or other object in their hand;
Have them throw the stone as far as they can, and mark where it lands;
Have them stand up (height), and run (speed) to a line and throw the stone as far as they can;
The difference will be obvious.

At the long jump pit itself:
Have them walk up to the take-off board and jump.
Have them run up to the take-off board and jump.
The difference will be obvious.

To take their mind off looking down at the board (which will hinder the effectiveness of their jump), tell them to try jump up to the sun, or sky, or tall tree, or flag at the top of a long pole you are holding.

Or, have them do their usual jump, then again, but this time over a pole, stick or string held gently across the pit, which will encourage them to jump higher. Show them the difference in their distance measurements.

Come up with creative ideas of your own to eliminate all problems, helping young long jump athletes’ natural abilities to shine through!