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Track and Field: Jumping Events

Jumper clearing the bar on the high jump
Source: US Air Force

Like running races, jumping competitions seems to be part of our DNA from the time we are kids. We like to see how high and far we can jump and who can do it best. There are four main track and field jumping events. Here is a description of each:

High Jump

In the high jump event, the athlete gets a running start and must jump over a bar without knocking it over. They land on a big soft cushion. Like many track and field events, there is a key element to doing well in this sport, which in this case is being able to jump high, but technique is very important as well. Timing and leaving your feet at the right point as well as how you bend your body as you go over the bar are all important.

There have been many techniques used for high jumping over the years, but the current, and most successful, is called the Fosbury Flop. The Fosbury Flop technique involves leading with your head over the bar (vs. leading with your feet) and twisting such that your back is to the ground and closest the bar as you go over it. Jumpers then land on their back.

Long Jump

Like many field events, the long jump involves more skill and technique than just being able to jump. First the athlete must have good speed as they sprint down the runway to prepare for the jump; next they must have very good footwork at the end of their run so they can launch as close to the line as possible without going over the line and faulting; third they must make a good jump; and lastly they must have proper form through the air and into the landing. All of these techniques and skills must be executed to perfection to pull of a good long jump.

The long jump has been a popular track and field event since the Ancient Greece Olympics. The current men's world record is 29.4 feet by Mike Powell. That's one loooong jump!

Pole Vault

While all of the field events take require technique to excel, the pole vault may be the toughest to master. In this track and field event, the athlete runs down the track holding a pole at one end. At the end of the run the plant the far in of the pole into a metal box in ground and then propel themselves up and over a high bar using both a jump and the spring of the pole to gain height. They must get over the bar without knocking it off. They then land on a large soft mattress for safety. The world record for the pole vault is over 6m (over 20 feet!) and is held by Sergey Bubka, probably the greatest pole vault athlete ever.

Triple Jump

The triple jump is similar to the long jump, but there are three combined jumps that go into the total length. These are called the hop, the step, and the jump. The athlete will first run down the track gaining speed; at the start of the jump or take off point they will jump from one foot and land on that same foot (hop); they then jump again, this time landing on the opposite foot (step); next they jump as far as they can and land on both feet (jump).

Running Events
Jumping Events
Throwing Events
Track and Field Meets
Track and Field Glossary and Terms

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