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Long jump

Table of Contents


Welcome

So, you've chosen to learn about the sport of long jump in track and field. Awesome choice! Did you know that the long jump, according to historians, is the only known jumping event that was held in the Ancient Olympic Games? Let's take a closer look.


What We'll Be Learning

We'll first discuss the dimensions and the boundaries of the field, the surface upon which all the jumping and throwing events are held. Afterwards, we'll break down the process of the long jump into six steps, and explore the rules and strategies for each one.


What is the long jump?

The long jump dates back to the original Greek Olympics. It has stayed a part of the Olympics since then, and has always been a popular event. The simple nature of the event makes it easy to practice anywhere, and it is a part of most track and field meets.

In the event, runners try to jump as far as possible. Athletes begin by running along a runway, and then jump from the end of the runway into a pit of sand. Their jump is measured as the shortest distance from the runway that they touch after landing. Because of this rule, runners have to be careful not to fall backwards after they land.

At most events, runners will have three attempts. Only their best score is counted. After each runner takes all their attempts, the 8 runners with the best scores advance. In some leagues and tournaments, the number of runners who advance to the second round is different from 8. In the second round, each runner gets three more attempts. At the end of the second round, the runner with the best score is the winner.

A judge is in charge of identifying any infractions of the rules, and measuring the distance of the jumps.

Long jump athletes must have many skills. These athletes must be good jumpers, which requires a lot of weight training and jumping exercises. One lesser known part of a long jumpers training is endurance training. These athletes have to take up to six attempts per competition. Since they sprint down the runway for each attempt, they must have great endurance to continuously reach top speed.


Long Jump Glossary Terms

Here are all the terms we will be covering related to the sport of long jumping in track and field.

  • Long Jump
  • Broad Jump
  • Standard Competition Area
  • Arena
  • Track
  • Field
  • Infield
  • Start Line
  • Finish Line
  • The Runway
  • Check Mark
  • The Takeoff Board
  • The Landing Pit
  • Foul Line
  • Tail Wind
  • Head Wind
  • Wind Assistance
  • The Approach Run
  • The Takeoff
  • Flight
  • The Double Arm
  • The Sprint (long jump)
  • The Power Sprint
  • Bounding
  • The Hang
  • The Sail
  • The Hitch Kick
  • Climbing
  • Running in the Air
  • Fair Jump
  • Foul Jump

The Long Jump Facility

The long jump facility is made up of three components:

1. The Runway

2. The Takeoff Board

3. The Landing Pit


The Runway

The runway is the designated stretch of all-weather polyurethane surfacing where the approach run in the long jump is performed. It must have a width of 1.22 m 0.01 m, and a minimum length of 40 m, and is bound by two white lines, within which the competitor must remain. An attempt in which the athlete steps on or beyond the lines of the runway will be declared a foul jump.


The Takeoff Board

The takeoff board is the white, 4-feet-long, 8-inches-wide rectangle that is placed on the long jump runway immediately before the foul line.


The Landing Pit

The landing pit is the sunken area located directly beyond the end of the long jump runway. It has a minimum width of 2.75 m and a maximum width of 3 m, and is evenly filled with soft, damp sand so that its top surface is level with the takeoff board. The landing pit is designed to ensure the safety of the athlete throughout the vault.


The Number of Competitors

Only one competitor at a time is allowed to attempt the long jump. This means that only the eligible competitor may be in the long jump facility at any given time. All other athletes who have finished their attempts, or are awaiting their turn, must ensure that they are not in contact with any part of the runway, the takeoff board, or the landing pit.


The Foul Line

The foul line is the line that is drawn near the edge of the runway, immediately after the takeoff board. If a competitor steps on or beyond this line at any point, the attempt will be declared a foul jump. To further aid the event officials in detecting a foul jump, the foul line is often drawn with a layer of plasticine. As a type of modelling clay, plasticine is able to vividly capture an imprint of even the slightest of footprints on the foul line.


Wind Assistance

Wind assistance refers to a tail wind that is blowing at a speed greater than 2.0 m/s during any track and event performed solely in one linear direction, such as 100 m sprints, 200 m sprints, 100 m hurdles, 110 m hurdles, and the jumping events.

As all athletes in an event are equally subjected to the same conditions, competition results that have been achieved with wind assistance will be kept and used, as normal, to determine the winners of the competition. Beyond the scope of that specific competition, however, wind-assisted results are not considered valid, and will not be registered as a record on any level.


Tail Wind

A tail wind is a wind that is blowing in the same direction that the athlete is heading towards. For any track and event that is performed solely in one linear direction, the maximum allowable tail wind speed is 2.0 m/s.


Head Wind

A head wind is a wind that is blowing against the direction that the athlete is heading towards.


The Number of Attempts

Every competitor is given three attempts to leap as far as possible from a valid takeoff point into the landing pit. Although all fair jumps of a competitor will be recorded by the officials, only the one with the greatest horizontal distance will be used to determine the athlete's standing in the event.


The Clock

A long jump attempt officially begins when an event official starts the large timing device located at the side of the runway, about halfway from the takeoff board.


The Time Limit

For each attempt, the competitor is given a total of 1 minute and 30 seconds to start his approach run towards the takeoff board and the landing pit. If a competitor fails to initiate his approach run before 1 minute and 30 seconds, the attempt will be declared a foul jump.


The Start Point

Unlike the foot racing events of track and field, there is no official start line or required start position for the long jump. Instead, competitors are free to initiate their approach run at any point within the boundaries of the runway, in whatever starting position they prefer. However, keep in mind that an attempt in which the competitor steps on or over the boundary lines of the runway will be deemed an invalid foul jump.


The Check Marks

Competitors may place a maximum of two check marks alongside the runway, outside the boundary lines, to assist them in executing a successful long jump. A check mark is a small marker that serves as a guide or a milestone during the approach run.


The Objective

The approach run is the first stage of the long jump, in which the competitor sprints down the runway to accelerate to maximum speed just before the takeoff. This will build up the necessary power and momentum for the competitor to travel the greatest possible horizontal distance through the air.


The Approach Run Position

Although the starting position will differ for every individual, most elite competitors often begin their approach runs at about 20 - 22 strides away from the takeoff board.


The Approach Run Strategy

The speed that the competitor reaches just before the takeoff is a key factor in determining the horizontal distance that the competitor will be able to travel through the air. The greater the speed upon takeoff, the greater the athlete's trajectory. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that the competitor understands his personal sprinting style, technique, and level of performance in order to gauge how much time and buildup he will need on the runway to reach maximum speed upon takeoff.


The Last Two Steps

The final two steps of the approach run is perhaps the most important part of the entire run-up to the takeoff, as it determines the final speed and angle at which the athlete will enter the takeoff. This is also where the athlete readies himself for the launch, while simultaneously conserving as much speed as possible.

As the athlete takes the second-last stride of the approach run, he must begin lowering his center of gravity in order to help build up the vertical portion of the takeoff. Next, on the final stride, which must be shorter than the second-last stride, the athlete should begin raising up his center of gravity again in anticipation of the takeoff.


The Objective

The takeoff is the step following the approach run, through which the athlete is able to enter flight. The main objective of the takeoff is for the competitor to generate the necessary vertical momentum to launch himself off the ground. It is widely considered as one of the most technical aspects of the entire long jump.


The Takeoff Position

Prior to the launch, the athlete must ensure that his takeoff foot has been placed completely flat on the ground prior to launching upwards. For instance, jumping using the heels will decrease the velocity, causing an overall deceleration effect and straining the joints, while jumping using the toes will decrease balance and stability, potentially resulting in the buckling of the entire leg.

In addition, the torso should be held upright, while the hips move forward and up. Note that the athlete's upper body should be pushed past the takeoff leg first before the takeoff foot leaves the ground, with the hips as the leading point.

It is also recommended that the athlete launches off the ground at an angle of 20 degrees or lower to achieve maximum horizontal distance through the air.


The Takeoff Point

Although the competitor may initiate the takeoff at any point on the runway in front of the foul line, it is to his advantage to get as close as possible to the foul line. This is because the distance that is recorded by the officials is the straight line, parallel to the length of the landing pit, as measured from the foul line to the nearest break in the sand caused by any part of the competitor's body or clothing. Thus, the competitor should attempt to launch into the air from the edge of the takeoff board closest to the foul line.


The Foul Line

An attempt in which the competitor steps on or over the foul line, located just behind the takeoff board, will be deemed an invalid foul jump.


The Takeoff Strategies

There are four main strategies for the takeoff:

1. The Kick

2. The Double Arm

3. The Sprint

4. The Power Sprint


The Kick

In the kick, the competitor powerfully cycles his legs, allowing large horizontal distances to be cleared.


The Double Arm

In the double arm, the competitor vertically swings up both arms, resulting in large vertical propulsion and a high hip height.


The Sprint

In the sprint, the competitor vertically swings up only one arm and leaves the other bent at the elbow, resembling a sprinter in full stride. This technique allows for the preservation of the final maximum speed attained during the approach run, just before the initiation of the takeoff.


The Power Sprint

In the power sprint, the competitor vertically swings up one arm, while fully extending the other arm backwards behind the body. This technique results in a large upward momentum.

Note that the power sprint is also referred to as the bounding.


The Objective

The flight is the step following the takeoff, in which the main objective is to maximize the total horizontal distance that the athlete will travel by remaining airborne for as long as possible and combating the forward rotation experienced from the takeoff. Furthermore, although the direction of the athlete's trajectory cannot be altered once he has entered flight, it is entirely possible to alter the style and balance of the landing, which may significantly affect the total measured horizontal distance. For example, an unsteady balance upon landing may cause the competitor to fall backwards, significantly diminishing the distance that will be measured.


The Flight Strategies

There are three popular flight strategies that are used until the peak of the jump:

1. The Hang

2. The Sail

3. The Hitch Kick


The Hang

In the hang, the athlete fully stretches out the arms and legs into a star-jump position, a pose that is held until the peak of the jump.


The Sail

In the sail, the athlete raises and straightens out both legs while stretching out the arms and leaning the torso forward into a toe-touch position. This allows the athlete to optimize the momentum generated during the takeoff and sail smoothly through the air.


The Hitch Kick

In the hitch kick, the athlete is able to effectively counteract the forward rotation experienced from the takeoff by cycling both arms and legs in a semblance of a continuation of the approach run. Note that the hitch kick is also referred to as climbing or running in the air.

These three flight strategies are only used up to the peak of the jump.


The Objectives of Landing

The main objective of the landing is to regain contact with the ground in as safe and smooth manner as possible. An improper or unbalanced landing may result in injuries or cause the athlete to stumble and fall backwards, greatly decreasing the overall distance that will be measured by the event officials.


The Peak of the Jump

The preparation for the landing begins about halfway through the course of the athlete's flight, at the peak of his jump. When he has reached this point, the athlete must swing up both his arms, fully extending them over the head, while ensuring that his upper body is held upright and vertically straight.


The Descent

As the athlete moves past the peak of his trajectory and begins the descent, he must bring up both knees towards his chest, then fully straighten out his legs and extend them in front of his hips as far as possible.

As the legs are being brought together in front of the hips, the athlete must simultaneously bring down the arms from above his head and stretch them out towards his toes. This reduces the forward rotation from the takeoff even further, allowing the athlete to remain airborne longer and thus cover a greater horizontal distance.

The upper body should continue to be held upright and vertically straight, with as little forward lean as possible.


The impact

Recall that the distance that is recorded by the officials in the long jump is the straight line, parallel to the length of the landing pit, as measured from the foul line to the nearest break in the sand caused by any part of the competitor's body or clothing. Therefore, it is essential that the athlete's center of gravity is as far ahead of him as possible, in order to prevent the possibility of stumbling and falling backwards.

As the feet come into contact with the landing pit, the athlete must strongly flex and brace his legs, while slightly bending the knees. This will help the athlete hold his balance, while reducing lower-body strain and allowing the hips to continue moving forwards, further increasing the overall horizontal distance.

As the distance is measured from the foul line to the nearest break in the sand caused by any part of the competitor's body or clothing, it is imperative that the competitor does not leave the landing pit by walking backwards towards the direction that he has travelled from. Depending on the situation, doing so could potentially render his distance to be recorded as 0 cm, if he leaves a mark in the sand at the very edge of the landing pit. Instead, the athlete must exit the competition area by walking forwards, or stepping sideways, out of the landing pit.


The Completion of the Attempt

Every competitor is given three attempts to leap as far as possible from a valid takeoff point into the landing pit. A competitor is deemed as having completed an attempt when a part of his body or clothing makes contact with the landing pit.


Timing

For each attempt, the competitor is given a total of 1 minute and 30 seconds to start his approach run towards the takeoff board and the landing pit. If a competitor fails to initiate his approach run before 1 minute and 30 seconds, the attempt will be declared a foul jump.


Fair Jump

A fair jump refers to an attempt in which the long jump competitor has abided by all the rules. It is signaled by the raising of a white flag by an event official.


Foul Jump

A foul jump refers to an attempt in which the long jump competitor has broken one or more of the event rules. The distance travelled by the athlete in a foul jump will not be recorded or considered in determining the winner. A foul jump is signaled by the raising of a red flag by an event official.

A foul jump is declared when the competitor has committed one or more of the following:

1. The competitor has failed to initiate the approach run before 1 minute and 30 seconds has elapsed.

2. The competitor has stepped on or beyond the white boundary lines of the runway.

3. The competitor has stepped on or beyond the foul line.

Unlike popular convention, a competitor who has committed a foul jump will not be disqualified from the event. However, he will not be given another opportunity to make up for the attempt. For instance, if an athlete executes a foul jump on his second attempt, he will still have no more than one more attempt remaining.


The Distance Measured

The distance that is recorded by the officials in the long jump is the straight line, parallel to the length of the landing pit, as measured from the foul line to the nearest break in the sand caused by any part of the competitor's body or clothing.


The Winner

The winner of a long jump event is the competitor with the longest fair jump. Note that although all fair jumps of a competitor will be recorded by the officials, only the one with the greatest horizontal distance will be used to determine the athlete's standing in the event.


Dispute Resolution

In the rare event that the greatest distance jumped by two or more athletes is exactly the same, the event official will then examine the second-greatest distances that had been jumped by the tied competitors. The individual with the longest second-greatest distance will then be declared as the winner.


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