Biomechanics plays an important role in contributing to improvements in the athlete’s long jump. With the help of biomechanics, an athlete can improve their performance by analysing their jumping and running techniques. By analysing their running gait and their flight while they are in the air, athletes will also be able to prevent future injuries. Video analysis is a key tool which will help long jumpers perform better as they can pause and rewind footage to take a closer look at what they were doing. Long jump is a speed and power event, so it would be easy for the athlete to forget to perform a certain aspect of their technique. By analysing footage, the athlete can see exactly how they are running and what arm and leg movements they are doing. They will also be able to get a closer look at how effective or ineffective their techniques are and be able to make the appropriate changes.
Horizontal and vertical velocity is vital in determining how far the athlete will jump, the run-up and take-off stages are crucial. To be a successful long jumper, the athlete must be fast, powerful, have muscular strength and be co-ordinated. (4)
Arm motion while in the air is very important. An athlete who rapidly swings their arms while jumping off the take-off board puts the rest of their body in a better position to jump further. The hip and knee extensors create a lot of angular momentum which allows the body to get up into the air. This lengthens the time the athlete spends in the air, increasing the horizontal jump. Correct arm movements also reduce the impact on the body while landing, this helps to prevent injuries. If the athlete doesn’t rotate or swing their arms up over their heads, the impact force when they land in the sandpit could cause them great injury, because they would be landing in the sandpit a lot harder with more force due to the lack of angular momentum they created in the air. (1)
Since long jump is an explosive activity which requires a lot of power, plyometric drills are important to build up muscular strength in their legs, this will allow their jumps to be more explosive when they jump off the take-off board. Coaches tend to get their athlete to jump various heights, when they land on the ground, the idea is for them to jump back up as high as they can with as much power as possible. The biomechanics behind these jumps is for the athlete to react as quick as possible and for them to convert the downward velocity into upward velocity as soon as their feet touch the ground. (5)
Stride length is very important for long jumpers. Another crucial element of long jump is for the athlete to produce vertical velocity when they jump off the take-off board, this enables them to jump further. From my research, I have concluded that there is a relationship between the amount of strides the athlete takes and the amount of vertical velocity they can produce. Athletes who have a longer run up tend to produce more speed but are unable to get enough vertical velocity than those who take a shorter run up approach. Low vertical velocity results in horizontal deacceleration. It is necessary for the athlete to decrease the number of strides they have in their run up approach, this will decrease the contact time of their foot on the board, which will help them gain vertical velocity on their jump. (4)
Long jump includes four stages. The run-up, take-off, flight, and landing stages. Speed is essential to be a successful long jumper. Athletes need to be able to adjust from their maximum speed on the last two strides. It is necessary for the athlete to lengthen these two strides to lower their centre of gravity, this allows them to increase their vertical velocity on take-off. The leg should be positioned at an angle of 45? for take-off, although with faster run ups, like those in elite athletes, the angle of take off is often recorder at 21?. The take-off force can be hard to control because the athlete jumps off the take-off board with a large amount of force and angular momentum, when the body rotates too much in the air it can be hard for the athlete to extend their legs in front of their body, this is why it is very important for the athlete to lengthen their last two strides so they are in better control of the jump. (2)
During the flight stage, the ‘Hitch-kick’ and ‘Hang’ technique are just two examples of techniques athletes use to help them control the summersaulting motion that they produce travelling through the air. For the hang technique, the athlete is in a hanging position while in the air. They have their arms pulled up above their heads and their legs extended forward in a hanging position. This position gives them a large moment of inertia, allowing them to control the rotational movement mid-flight. They maintain this position for as long as possible, making sure they fall forwards into the sandpit. For the ‘Hitch-kick’ technique, the athlete does a running motion in the air with their arms and legs. They keep their trunk upright, tilting backwards slightly. For the duration of the flight, the athlete continuously rotates their arms and legs. These movements that they produce generate a lot of angular momentum, which helps them to jump further. (2)
To improve athletic performance, the technique must be improved. Without coaches and athletes taking a closer look at the mechanics of running and jumping, athletes would never be able to master the right techniques. They would simply just run and jump aimlessly into the sand pit. With the help of physics, athletes can consider jumping velocity, forces, running gait, angular momentum and the angle at which they jump from. These will all help them to increase their horizontal jump. Biomechanics is useful in correcting one’s sporting performance to enhance their abilities. The use of mechanics in sports can turn an average athlete into an elite athlete with the right training. The main contribution biomechanics has on long jump is technique improvement.
Coaches use their knowledge of mechanics to correct mistakes their athletes make. For example, an athlete who is constantly training but never getting any better because they are always doing the same thing may need to practise different techniques, they may become disheartened and beat themselves up because they have been putting a lot of effort into their training. Athletes should take time to study the mechanics of the jump and try to apply this to their own training programme; the progress will follow. The athlete may be using the same run up approach repeatedly with no improvements or have their arms flopping by their sides while they are jumping or an athlete who isn’t getting enough bounce off the board when they take-off, the coach will intervene and give them advice on how to improve. The coach may suggest the athlete lowers their centre of gravity on the last two strides up to the take-off board, this will allow them to travel more distance while they are mid-air. The coach could also suggest for the athlete to swing their arms when taking off and to tuck their legs into their chest while they are in the air. This will allow them to gain more momentum as they jump, making them move faster, which will maximise their distance. I believe that applying these small changes to your technique will greatly improve performance. (3)
1. Role of arm motion in the standing long jump. Blake M. Ashby, Jean H. Heegaard. Sanford, USA: s.n., 2002.
2. Biomechanics of the long jump. Linthorne, Nicholas P. Uxbridge: s.n., 2006.
3. Ginnis, Peter Mc. Apply biomechanics to improve technique. Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise.
4. Characteristics of the long jump take-off as the novice increase the number of steps in the approach run. Yoshinori Kinomura, Nobuaki Fujibayashi, Koji Zushi. Japan: s.n., 2013.
5. Drop jumping. I. THe influence of jumping technique on the biomechanics of jumping. Maarten F, Bobbert, Peter A.,Huijing, Gerrit Jan Van Ingen Schenau. 4, Amsterdam: s.n., Vol. 19.