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April 2017
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The common characteristics of a good jumper are:

  • a good speed when taking off for the jump;
  • correct, technical execution of the jump.

The combination of these two dynamic and technical elements gives rise to the ideal performance for both the high jumps (high jump and pole vault) and the extended jumps (long and triple jump). These factors must be adapted for each event however, as well as to the biological characteristics of the athletes who practise them.

High Jump

The perfect high jump technique has been developed over many years and is attributable to a few crucial aspects:

  • The physical evolution of the jumpers;
  • The technical improvement of the landing area (mattresses have substituted sand).

In 1968, in Mexico City, the American high jumper Dick Fosbury won the gold medal for jumping over the bar head and shoulders first, which at the time was a revolutionary technique as it was the opposite to then-norm; the scissor technique. This new technique, which is now called the ‘Fosbury flop’, showed original, technical aspects: the run-up, which is not linear like that of the scissor jump, involves the athlete curving towards the jump during the final strides, allowing them to turn towards the jump itself. The curved run-up also means the athlete can obtain a state of pre-muscular tension that amplifies the strength of the push-off. Whilst in the air, the chest rotates so the back is facing and parallel to the bar and, at the peak of the jump, the athlete arches and simultaneously relaxes and pulls in the legs, so that they clear the bar. The Fosbury technique is more suited to tall athletes and it is popular because it provides the athlete with a fast run-up and does not require extreme strength when pushing off, unlike the scissor technique. Furthermore, the fact that this technique is easier than the scissor techniques means it is more popular in the junior categories.

Men: Javier Sotomayor (Cuba): 2.45m in 1993
Women: Stefka Kostandinova (Bulgaria): 2.09m in 1987

Pole Vault

The pole vault is a complex, athletic specialty as it involves elements taken from jumping, running and gymnastic events. It is a very ancient event and in Ireland some competitions have been dated back to periods before Christ. In more recent times, however, this event has been transformed, mainly regarding the use of the pole and the material it is made from (which is continually more advanced); just one century ago, the pole was made of ash tree or walnut tree wood and then later bamboo, as it was lighter and more durable, and this was used up until the early 1900s. During the period following the Second World War, a steel pole was introduced because this was stronger and bent better, and in the mid 1960s, the fibreglass pole became more common and popular. This type of pole, because of its extreme flexibility, increased the spectacular nature of this discipline, allowing athletes to jump to dizzying heights. The pole, which flexes due to the speed of the run-up and the force of the push off, folds, ‘charges’, as it accumulates energy, and then straightens up, catapulting the jumper upwards and over the bar. The female pole vault has only been introduced recently, which is presumably why the female records are much lower than those of male pole vaulters.


POLE VAULT “From the history to the technique”

The pole vault, one of the most spectacular yet difficult, modern athletic events, was born in ancient times to deal with war; men used long poles to catapult themselves over trenches, barriers and obstacles. The first pole vault competition dates back to the County Meath Games held in Taliti, Ireland, in 1829 BC.

Men: Sergey Bubka (Ukraine):  6.14 m in 1994
Women: Elena Isinbaeva (Russia): 5.06m in 2009

Long jump

This is the most ‘natural’ of the four jumps. It was part of the ancient Olympic Games and, over the years, it has always been practised in the same way. The different techniques that are used in the ‘flight’ part (extension or strides in the air) vary according to the athletes muscular characteristics, however they do not affect the outcome. This is because the movement carried out during the flight does not affect the athlete’s trajectory after pushing off, but instead just conserves their balance in mid-air, improving their landing. The result of the jump is related to the fast run-up and the angle of projection of the athlete’s centre of gravity. Thus the speed of the run-up is highly correlated with the performance.



The main objective of training for junior long jumpers (age 12-15 years) is physical and coordinative multilateral conditioning. Only after these 4 years of training can the specificity of the long jump speciality be addressed.

Men: Mike Powell (USA): 8.95m in 1991
Women: Galina Chistyakova (USSR): 7.52m in 1988

Triple jump

This jump is less natural and more ‘artificial’ when compared to the long jump, because the athlete must complete three jumps that each have different techniques. A good result comes about from the combination and rhythm of the three jumps and the space covered during each one. The first jump (the hop) is a leap executed on the same leg; the second (the step) is a leap onto the other leg; the third (the jump) is a proper jump that is very long and which ends the jump. The choice of the rhythm of the spacing of the jumps comes from the athlete and from the strength of the push offs. As is the case for the long jump, the speed of the run-up heavily influences the performance.



The opinion that the triple jump is a difficult and dangerous speciality has always made the approach to this event quite complicated. In reality, no athletic event is particularly hard as long as it is confronted with the knowledge of the strengths and rhythms needed to execute and coordinate it. Everything must be proportionate to the size of the athlete and not just their physical strength but also cultural awareness, which means the ability to comprehend and take on new information form the surroundings and react appropriately.

Men: Jonathan Edwards (GB): 18.29m in 1995
Women: Inessa Kravets (Ukraine): 15.50m in 1995


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