Biomechanics of the long jump
Biomechanics of the long jump
Nicholas P. Linthorne
Brunel University, Uxbridge
The basic technique used in long jumping has remained unchanged since the beginning of
modern athletics in the mid-nineteenth century. The athlete sprints down a runway, jumps
up from a wooden take-off board, and flies through the air before landing in a pit of sand.
A successful long jumper must, therefore, be a fast sprinter, have strong legs for jumping, and
be sufficiently coordinated to perform the moderately complex take-off, flight, and landing
maneuvers. The best women long jumpers achieve distances of about 6.5–7.5 m, whereas
the best men (who are faster and stronger) reach about 8.0–9.0 m.
The objectives in each phase of the jump are the same regardless of the athlete’s
gender or ability. To produce the greatest possible jump distance the athlete must reach the
end of the run-up with a large horizontal velocity and with the take-off foot placed accu-
rately on the take-off board. During take-off the athlete attempts to generate a large
vertical velocity while minimizing any loss of horizontal velocity, and in the flight phase
the athlete must control the forward rotation that is produced at take-off and place their
body in a suitable position for landing. During the landing the athlete should pass forward
of the mark made by their feet without sitting back or otherwise decreasing the distance of
the jump.
This chapter presents a review of the most important biomechanical factors influencing
technique and performance in the long jump. The biomechanical principles behind the
successful execution of the run-up, take-off, flight, and landing phases of the jump are
explained. The effects of changes in run-up velocity on the athlete’s take-off technique are
also examined, as are the design principles of long jump shoes and the techniques used by
disabled athletes.
Typical values of selected long jump parameters are presented in Table 24.1. The values
in this table are based on studies of elite long jumpers at major international championships
(Arampatzis, BrĂĽggemann, and Walsch, 1999; Hay, Miller, and Canterna, 1986; Lees,
Fowler, and Derby, 1993; Lees, Graham-Smith, and Fowler, 1994; Nixdorf and BrĂĽggemann,
1990). The table will be a useful reference while reading this chapter.
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