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Long Jump

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Long jumping ability is made up of two elements, pace and spring. Pace in the run-up supplies the impetus; spring enables the jumper to lift himself into the air so that this impetus has time to act before the law of gravitation takes effect, and also adds a certain amount of forward motion itself. A man who can jump well but is a slow runner can achieve a certain degree of success in the long jump by virtue of his spring alone; similarly a fast runner without much jumping power can cover a certain distance if he learns to rise a little at the end of his run. The best kind of long jumper is the man who is both a fast runner and a capable high jumper.

Thus it is clear that in training for the long jump, besides practising the long jump itself, a man must cultivate his sprinting and high jumping powers to their highest pitch. Practice at the long jump will enable him to combine the two skilfully.

Before beginning such definite training, it is necessary first to get into general condition by playing cricket, football, or any other game that gives good exercise; or to go through a course of grinding walks. Then should follow a week or fortnight of easy exercise on the cinder-track, consisting chiefly of sprinting and a little high jumping. This preliminary training will have got the muscles used in the long jump into working order, and actual practice may then begin. An experienced performer will not require more than a month's further practice to produce his best effort, though some men prefer to take much longer. Both in preliminary and in actual training for this event, it is absolutely essential not to do too much work a day. Two or three days a week may be given to serious long jumping, prefaced by about three high jumps and two or three short sprints. The other days should be devoted to serious high jumping and determined sprinting. A novice who has to learn the way to long jump must give himself six or eight weeks in order to obtain sufficient practice without overworking himself. Hurdling is an excellent subsidiary exercise for .a long jumper, and it is a good thing to run over the entire length of flights or to take three or four flights four or five times. Hurdling and long jumping ability often go together, but if a man wishes to train simultaneously for both events he must give himself long enough to practise both adequately without having to do too much work a day.

The long jumper's sprinting practice should be very much the same as that of a pure sprinter. He should confine himself chiefly to short bursts of forty yards, with an occasional run through the hundred yards, varied by a stride over three hundred or a lap well on his toes.

In his high jumping practice he may follow the methods of the professed high jumper, supplemented with occasional " high-long " jumps-i.e. over a lath fixed at from four feet six inches to five feet and taken at the end of a fast run of about twenty yards.

With regard to actual practice at the long jump, he must aim at three things-to learn to take-off with the ball of his foot on the taking-off board ; to do that when going at full speed ; and to jump as high as possible into the air.

There are two reasons for taking-off on the board : first, that if the jumper takes-off behind it he is not credited with the full distance he has covered, all jumps being measured from the edge of the board nearest the pit to the hindmost heel-mark ; secondly, because the board is firmer and more springy than the cinder-track. When a jumper takes-off six inches behind the mark, he loses a foot, if not more. This accuracy in taking-off is partly mechanical And a matter of practice, partly a matter of eye.

When a man is fit and in good jumping fettle, his eye, brain and foot work so well together that he takes-off exactly where he intends. At the same time, it is fatal to look at the taking-off mark while running-up. His eyes ought to be fixed eagerly on a spot where he hopes to land -i.e. somewhat beyond his usual jumping distance. It is most helpful to have a piece of paper put in the centre of the pit about a foot further than he has ever jumped. It not only takes his eyes off the board, but draws him out. In order to gain mechanical accuracy, a mark should be made on the cinder-track. Behind this the jumper should start and, after a few yards run, plant his toe on it, continue at full speed up to the board, and then jump determinedly. In nine cases out of ten he will have taken-off behind the board, as can be seen by examining the track. Before starting for the next jump, the mark should be moved forward as many inches or feet as he took-off behind the board.

It is a great mistake to shorten or lengthen the stride in running up. It not only makes it impossible to acquire and practise mechanical accuracy in taking-off, but lessens considerably the impetus which is the raison d'etre of the run-up. The length of the run-up should be between forty-five and fifty-five yards. Practice will soon discover the suitable length. A man's run-up to a long jump should be the facsimile of the first part of a hundred yards as run by him. The whole run should be a winding-up for the jump.

The reason for jumping high has been mentioned. The difference between a first-class and a moderate performer in this respect is most marked. It is possible to jump too high, just as a cricket ball may be thrown too high for length ; but at the end of a run-up at full speed it is practically impossible. As a working rule, it is safe to advise a long jumper to jump as high as he can-i.e. much higher than he feels inclined.

The best kind of shoes for long jumping are ordinary hurdling shoes with one or two spikes in the heel. It is useful to have a pair for practising with thickened heels, as the heel is planted with great violence on the ground in taking-off. Bruised-heel is a common complaint with long jumpers. Care should be taken that the pit is well dug up and softened before jumping, and that no rake, spade, or other edged tool is left near the pit, in case of a sprawl or fall out of the pit after landing. It is a good thing, especially in cold weather, to rub the legs and back well before starting work. A gentle sprint and two or three small high jumps as preliminaries should always be taken in order to get the muscles into working order and prevent them being strained or torn by the sudden concentrated effort implied in a long jump.

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