Long jump

From New World Encyclopedia

Long jump at the GE Money Grand Prix in Helsinki, July 2005.

The long jump (formerly called "broad jump") is an athletics (track and field) horizontal jump event in which athletes combine speed, strength, and agility in an attempt to land as far from the take-off point as possible. The event has been in the sport of track and field since the first ancient Olympic Games and was also part of the first modern day games in 1896.


The long jump has been in the history of track and field since the ancient Olympic Games. When the sport was first introduced the athletes carried a weight in each hand, which were called halteres. These weights would be swung forward as the athlete jumped, in order to increase momentum. It is believed that the jumper would throw the weights behind him in mid-air to increase his forward momentum, however, halteres were held throughout the duration of the jump. Swinging them down and back at the end of the jump would change the athlete's center of gravity and allow the athlete to stretch his legs outward, increasing his distance. Most notable in the ancient sport was Chionis, who in the 656 B.C.E. Olympics staged a jump which was equal to 7 meters and 5 centimeters (23 feet and 1.5 inches).[1]

The long jump has been part of modern Olympic competition since the inception of the Games in 1896. In 1914, Dr. Harry Eaton Stewart recommended the “running broad jump” as a standardized track and field event for women.[2] However, it was not until 1948 that women were allowed to compete in the event at the Olympic level.

The long jump is also notable for two of the longest-standing world records in any track and field event. In 1935, Jesse Owens set a long jump world record that was not broken until 1960 by Ralph Boston. Later, Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 meters (29 feet, 2-1/2 inches) at the 1968 Summer Olympics, a jump not exceeded until 1991. On August 30 of that year, Mike Powell of the U.S. leaped 8.95 meters at the World Championships in Tokyo. Some jumps over 8.95 meters have been officially recorded (8.99 meters by Mike Powell himself, 8.96 meters by Ivan Pedroso), but were not validated since there was either no reliable wind speed measurement available, or because wind speed exceeded 2.0 m/s. The current world record for women is held by Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union who leaped 7.52 meters in Leningrad in 1988.

Stars of the sport

Debart Hubbard

The dedicated student athlete from the University of Michigan became the first African-American to win an individual golf medal at the Olympic Games when he won the 1924 long jump competition in Paris. His jump of 24 feet and 6 inches came one foot short of the world record at the time, but was still considered a great feat in Olympic and African-American sports history.

Bob Beamon

Bob Beamon made his mark in long jump history when he broke the world record at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. The 22 year old had trouble qualifying for the games in the first place, after faulting twice in the qualifying run, but once he made the finals, he made the jump of his life. After taking 19 precise strides down the runway, Beamon hit the board, jumping an amazing 29 feet and 2.5 inches. Not only did beamon become the first athlete to jump over 28 feet, but he broke the record by over 21 inches. His record jump would last for almost 23 years.

Mike Powell

During the 1991 World Outdoor Championships, Mike Powell and Carl Lewis squared off in one of the most memorable long jump battles in the history of the event. After battling back and forth during the rounds, Powell used an aggressive jump off the board and landed deep into the pit to record a new world record of 29 feet and 4.5 inches.

Carl Lewis

Lewis will go down as one of the best long jumpers and overall track athletes in the history of the sport. He didn't lose in the long jump for over a decade, winning 65 straight competitions, including four gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games and tying the record of his idol, Jessie Owens.[3] Lewis became the first long jumper to win back to back gold medals in the event when he won in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games. After losing to Powell a year earlier, when Powell broke the world record and Lewis's win streak in the event, Lewis beat Powell in the 1992 games in Barcelona. To impress track and field fans even more, Lewis at the age of 35 qualified for the games in 1996 at Atlanta. While some didn't expect much for the aging star, Lewis shocked all when he won the gold for the fourth straight time when he jumped 27 feet and 10.75 inches, his longest jump at sea level in four years.

Jackie Joyner Kersee

Jackie Joyner Kersee is known as one of the best women's track and field stars in the history of the sport. She won the 1988 long jump gold medal, and is the current holder of the 2nd best jump in the event's history with 7.49 meters.

Galina Chistyakova

The Russian long jumper is the current world record holder for the women's long jump at 7.52 meters, a jump she recorded while winning the bronze metal at the 1988 Olympic Games. She won the 1985 European Indoor Championships and a silver medal at the European Championships the year after. Chistyakova received Slovak citizenship and represented the Slovakia. She has the Slovak record with 14.41 meters, achieved in July 1996 in London.

Introduction to long jump

When participating in the long jump, competitors sprint down a runway often made with the same surface found on tracks called crumb rubber or vulcanized rubber). The competitors then jump the farthest distance possible off of a wooden board into a pit filled with finely ground gravel or sand. The distance traveled by a jumper is referred to as the “mark,” because it is the distance to which the first mark is made in the sand. More specifically, a mark is the minimum distance from the edge of the takeoff board, nearest the landing pit, to the first indentation made by the competitor {generally the back of the heel, but if the competitor stumbles and leans back with the hand, the distance is taken from that mark). If the competitor starts the leap with any part of the foot in front of the board, the jump is declared illegal (a foul) and is recognized as a fault. At the elite level, a layer of plasticine is placed immediately after the board to detect this occurrence. Otherwise, an official (similar to a referee) will observe the jump and make the determination. The competitor can initiate the jump from any point behind the foul line; however, the distance measured will always be from the foul line. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the competitor to get as close to the foul line as possible without fouling.

The format of the long jump competition varies, but generally consist each competitor will get a set number of attempts to make his or her longest jump, with only the longest legal jump counting towards the results. In most competitions jumpers are given three trial jumps with which to make their best effort. Higher level competitions are split into two rounds: trials and finals. In competitions containing a final round, only a select number of competitors are invited to return for further competition. The number of competitors chosen to return to the final round is determined prior to the start of the meet by a committee comprised generally of coaches and officials. It is standard practice to allow one more competitor than the number of scoring positions to return to the final round. For example, if a given meet allows the top eight competitors to score points, then the top nine competitors will be selected to compete in the final round. Taking an extra competitor to the final round helps to allow that athlete to move into a scoring position if the competitor can improve on his or her best mark of the competition. Final rounds are viewed as an additional three jumps, as they do not have any priority to those scored in the trial round. The competitor with the longest legal jump (from either the trial or final rounds) at the end of competition is declared the winner.

Four main components

The four main components of the long jump are the approach run, the last two strides, takeoff, and action in the air and landing. Speed in the run-up, or approach, and a high leap off the board are the fundamentals of success. Because speed is such an important factor of the approach, it is not surprising that many sprinters, notably including Carl Lewis, also compete successfully in the long jump.

The approach

The objective of the approach is to gradually accelerate to a maximum controlled speed at takeoff. Observing the laws of Physics, the most important factor for the distance traveled by an object is its velocity at takeoff–speed and angle of take off. Elite jumpers usually leave the ground at an angle of twenty degrees or less; therefore, it is more beneficial for a jumper to focus on the velocity component of the jump. The greater the velocity, or speed, at takeoff, the higher and longer the trajectory of the center of mass will be. The importance of a higher velocity at takeoff is a major factor in the success rate for many sprinters in this event.

The length of the approach is a precise distance for each athlete that varies depending on their preference. In the long jump, approaches usually are 16 to 18 strides long, but are usually shorter for older jumpers and can be as long as 22 to 24 strides for younger jumpers. The exact distance and number of strides in an approach will depend on the individual jumper’s experience, sprinting technique, and conditioning level. Consistency in the approach component is important, as it is the competitor’s objective to get as close to the front of the takeoff board as possible without crossing the line with any part of the foot.

An approach that is too long can result in the jumper reaching the desired speed before the takeoff point, and will result in a loss of velocity before the final strides. If the approach is too short, it won’t allow the jumper to reach the velocity needed for the best jump. To ensure a good approach, jumpers mark a checkpoint usually 4 strides from the board and note the proper foot plant location. These checkpoints are usually done during the practice runs and are changes throughout based on the early results.

The last two strides

The objective of the last two strides is to effectively prepare the body for takeoff while conserving as much speed as possible.

In this phase, the next to last stride from takeoff is known as the penultimate stride. This is the longer of the last two strides, where the competitor begins to lower his or her center of gravity to prepare the body for the vertical impulse. Directly following the penultimate stride is the final stride, which is markedly shorter because the body is beginning to raise the center of gravity in preparation for takeoff.

The last two strides are an extremely important phase of the jump, as they ultimately determine the velocity with which the competitor will be entering into the jump. But, it is said that taking strides can lower the distance you jump, and it is better to sprint into the jump rather than take "strides."


The objective of the takeoff is to create a vertical impulse through the athlete’s center of gravity while maintaining balance and control.

This phase is one of the most technical parts of the long jump. Jumpers must be conscious to place the foot flat on the ground, because jumping off either the heels or the toes will have negative effects on the jump. Taking off from the board heel-first will cause a breaking effect, which will decrease velocity and put strain on the joints. Jumping off the toes will decrease stabilization, putting the leg at risk of buckling or collapsing from underneath the jumper. While concentrating on foot placement, the athlete must also work to maintain proper body position, keeping the torso upright and moving the hips forward and up to achieve the maximum distance from board contact to foot release.

There are four main styles of takeoff: the kick style, double-arm style, sprint takeoff, and the power sprint or bounding takeoff.


The kick style takeoff is a style of takeoff where the athlete actively cycles the leg before a full impulse has been directed into the board then landing into the pit.


The double-arm style of takeoff works by moving both arms in a vertical direction as the competitor takes off. This produces a high hip height and a large vertical impulse.


The sprint takeoff is the style most widely instructed by coaching staff. This is a classic single-arm action that resembles a jumper in full stride. It is an efficient takeoff style for maintaining velocity through takeoff.

Power sprint or bounding

The power sprint takeoff, or bounding takeoff, is arguably one of the most effective styles. Very similar to the sprint style, the body resembles a sprinter in full stride. However, there is one major difference. The arm that pushes back on takeoff (the arm on the side of the takeoff leg) fully extends backward, rather than remaining at a bent position. This additional extension increases the impulse at takeoff.

The style used depends on the experience, explosion, quickness, speed, and age of the competitor.

Action in the air and landing

The objective of this phase is to counteract the natural forward rotation of the body from takeoff while maintaining an effective landing position.

Once a competitor leaves contact with the ground there is nothing that can be done to alter the flight path of his or her center of gravity. What will affect the distance of the jump is the body position at landing. If a competitor was to leave the ground without taking any action to prevent forward rotation in the air, the body would naturally move into a face-down position as the velocity of the lower half of the body at takeoff is greater than the upper half of the body due to the contact with the ground. The three predominant in-the-air techniques used in the long jump in order of increasing difficulty of execution are the sail, hang, and hitch-kick.

Long jump techniques


The sail technique is one of the most basic long jump techniques practiced by competitors. After the takeoff phase is complete, the jumper immediately lifts the legs into a toe-touching position. This is useful for the novice jumper, as it allows the competitor to move into the landing position early. The downside of this technique is that it does not counter the body’s natural tendency to rotate too far forward. Once a jumper learns the aspects of this technique, they will often move up to the hang or hitch kick.

For the hang and hitch kick technique the jumper uses the same fast approach, similar body positions at the take off point, and similar actions for the landing. Once jumpers get the fundamentals of these techniques down, they will often incorporate their own variations.


The hang technique is executed when the athlete has a fast run[up and drives up powerfully at the take up point. It works by lengthening the body to make it as efficiently long as possible. Here both the arms and legs are extended to reach a maximum distance from the hips. Both arms circle downward, backward and then forward in a clockwise rotation. This position is held until after the jumper reaches the apex of the jump, at which point the athlete "hangs" in the air. At this point the jumper will snap the legs forward into a landing position. This technique helps to diminish the tendency to tumble forward or lose the extension of the body. Generally the competitor is encouraged to flex the knees at a 90 degree angle, which enables the feet to swing with the fastest possible angular momentum when snapping into the landing position.


The hitch-kick technique like the hang technique in that a fast run up and powerfully drive up is needed at the takeoff. After the takeoff, the leading leg, which is flexed at the takeoff point, is extended outward to create a stride position in the air. This is also known as “cycling” or “running in the air.” Both legs are flexed and brought forward for the land, and the arms need to rotate clockwise in order to balance the action by the legs. When the athlete hits the sand, the knees flex, and the upper body continues to shift forward beyond the feet. As the name might suggest, this technique relies on a cycling action of the arms and legs through the air to maintain an upright body position. This technique takes longer to execute and is therefore generally reserved for more experienced jumpers.

In-the-air techniques are generally selected by the athlete and coach during training based on an individual athlete’s skills and experience.

Landing technique

When landing, it is the primary objective of the competitor not to fall back in the landing pit. The jump is measured from the location in which the body contacts the sand closest to the takeoff point. For this reason many jumpers will work on keeping their feet in front of the body at a maximum distance from the hips. Upon landing, competitors will often use their arms in a sweeping motion to help keep the legs up and the body forward. Generally a jumper will bend the knees upon contacting the ground to cushion the impact on the body.

Training for the long jump

The long jump generally requires training in a variety of areas. As said before, to be successful in the long jump, it is necessary to have great sprinting speed, and explosive leg power.

Leg power training

Lead-Up Training Long Jumpers tend to practice jumping 2-3 times a week. Approaches, or run-throughs, are repeated sometimes up to 6-8 times per session.

To start training, have someone measure the distance you can achieve in 3 successive hops with the right leg only, and then the left leg only. After you are done, calculate what leg gave you the greater distance, and use it as you preferred jumping leg.

Circle jump training' To improve the stride and the explosive leg action necessary for more advanced techniques, set out 3 to 5 circles in a grass area. Have the jumper hop or bound jump through each circle, and after completion move the distance farther apart. Keep extending the distance of the circles or hoops until you demand the jumper using long reaching strides.

Weight training During pre-season training and early in the competition season weight training tends to play a major role. It is customary for a long jumper to weight train up to 4 times a week, focusing mainly on quick movements involving the legs and trunk. Some athletes perform olympic lifts in training. Athletes use low repetition and emphasize speed to maximize the strength increase while minimizing adding additional weight to their frame.

Bounding Bounding is any kind of continuous and repetitive jumping or leaping. Bounding drills usually entail single leg bounding, double-leg bounding, or some variation of the two. It may also include box drills or depth jumps. The focus of bounding drills is usually to spend as little time on the ground as possible; working on technical accuracy, fluidity, and jumping endurance and strength. Technically, bounding is part of plyometrics, as are form running exercises such as high knees and butt kicks.

Flexibility Flexibility is an all-too-often forgotten tool for long jumpers. Effective flexibility works to prevent injury, which can be important for high impact events such as the long jump.

A common tool in many long jump workouts is the use of video taping. This allows the athlete to go back and review their own progress as well as enabling the athlete to compare their own footage to that of world-class athletes.

Training style, duration, and intensity will vary immensely from athlete to athlete based on both the experience and strength of the athlete as well as on coaching style.

Speed training

Plyometrics Plyometrics, including running up and down stairs and hurdle bounding, can be incorporated into workouts, generally roughly twice a week. This allows an athlete to work on agility and explosiveness.

Over distance training Over-distance running workouts allow an athlete to work at distances greater than those at which he or she must compete. For example, having a 100 m runner practice by running 200m repeats on a track. This is especially concentrated on early in the season when athletes are working on building endurance. Typically over-distance running workouts are performed 1-2 times a week. This is beneficial for building sprint endurance, which is needed in competitions where the athlete is sprinting down the runway 3-6 times.

Top 10 performers

Accurate as of June 2, 2007.


Mark* Wind** Athlete Nationality Venue Date
8.95 0.3 Mike Powell Flag of United States United States Tokyo August 30, 1991
8.90A 2.0 Bob Beamon Flag of United States United States Mexico City October 18, 1968
8.87 -0.2 Carl Lewis Flag of United States United States Tokyo August 30, 1991
8.86A 1.9 Robert Emmiyan Template:URS / Flag of Armenia Armenia Tsakhkadzor May 22, 1987
8.74 1.4 Larry Myricks Flag of United States United States Indianapolis July 18, 1988
8.74A 2.0 Erick Walder Flag of United States United States El Paso April 2, 1994
8.71 1.9 Iván Pedroso Flag of Cuba Cuba Salamanca July 18, 1995
8.66 0.2 Louis Tsatoumas Flag of Greece Greece Kalamata June 2, 2007
8.63 0.5 Kareem Streete-Thompson Flag of United States United States / Template:CAY Linz July 4, 1994
8.62 0.7 James Beckford Flag of Jamaica Jamaica Orlando April 5, 1997

*(meters), **(metres/second) A = Altitude (above 1000 meters)


Mark* Wind** Athlete Nationality Venue Date
7.52 1.4 Galina Chistyakova Template:URS / Flag of Russia Russia Leningrad June 11, 1988
7.49 1.3 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Flag of United States United States New York May 22, 1994
7.48 0.4 Heike Drechsler Template:GDR / Flag of Germany Germany Lausanne July 8, 1992
7.43 1.4 Anişoara Stanciu Flag of Romania Romania Bucharest June 4, 1983
7.42 2.0 Tatyana Kotova Flag of Russia Russia Annecy June 23, 2002
7.39 0.5 Yelena Belevskaya Template:URS / Flag of Belarus Belarus Bryansk July 18, 1987
7.37 N/A Inessa Kravets Template:URS / Flag of Ukraine Ukraine Kiev June 11, 1988
7.33 0.4 Tatyana Lebedeva Flag of Russia Russia Tula July 31, 2004
7.31 1.5 Yelena Khlopotnova Template:URS / Flag of Ukraine Ukraine Alma Ata September 12, 1985
7.31 -0.1 Marion Jones Flag of United States United States Zürich August 12, 1998

*(meters), **(meters/second)


  1. The Times, Ancient Origins. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  2. Louise Mead Tricard, American Women’s Track & Field: A History, 1895 Through 1980 (McFarland & Company, 1996, ISBN 0-7864-0219-9), 60-61.
  3. ESPN, Jesse Owens. Retrieved November 12, 2008.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Carr, G. 1999. Fundamentals of Track and Field. Human Kinetics Publishers. ISBN 9780736000086.
  • Gregoire, Ernie, and Larry Myricks. 1991. World Class Track & Field Series: Long Jump (VHS) Ames, IA: Championship Books & Video Productions.
  • Guthrie, Mark. 2003. Coach Track & Field Successfully. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. ISBN 0-7360-4274-1.
  • Rogers, Joseph L. 2000. USA Track & Field Coaching Manual. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. ISBN 0-88011-604-8.
Athletics events

Sprints: 60 m | 100 m | 200 m | 400 m

Hurdles: 60 m hurdles | 100 m hurdles | 110 m hurdles | 400 m hurdles

Middle distance: 800 m | 1500 m | 3000 m | steeplechase

Long distance: 5,000 m | 10,000 m | half marathon | marathon | ultramarathon | multiday races | Cross country running

Relays: 4 × 100 m | 4 × 400 m;       Racewalking;       Wheelchair racing

Throws: Discus | Hammer | Javelin | Shot put

Jumps: High jump | Long jump | Pole vault | Triple jump

Combination: Pentathlon | Heptathlon | Decathlon

Highly uncommon: Standing high jump | Standing long jump | Standing triple jump


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