Peter Ventre

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 !  Better Athletics: High Jumping


In order to jump high you must concentrate mostly on approach and take off. Clearance of the bar and landing are of importance only in making best use of the work done on the ground. It is essential to achieve:
1. A fast approach into an exaggerated backward lean position at take off with the hips low in order to spend more time over the take off foot and exert more force into the ground (Fig. 3).

2. A take off position close to the bar so that the body is raised steeply with an angle of approach acute enough to permit a powerful free leg swing (Fig. 5).

3. A lifting of the body straight into the air without turning in towards the bar at take off in anticipation of least to horizontal and hold the layout and clearance (Fig. 6).

4. An economical position in the air where the body is draped around the bar (Fig. 8).

A good surface for take off, heel spikes and a well padded area for landing will help you in your training. Press for improvement in these facilities.

Developing the techniques

Approach and take off

Train off a 5 stride approach, starting with the take off foot and practice a straight jump over the bar. Jump straight and high, swing the leading leg and both arms powerfully and land on the take off foot so that the line of approach, the jump and the landing are all in line. Straight jumps of this sort can be the basis of all your training.

Accelerate and lengthen each stride so that the low hip position and exaggerated body lean can be achieved.

Increase the length and speed of approach as you become more skilful and learn to utilize the extra speed by' achieving a lower hip position, a longer last stride and a stronger leading leg swing.

Decrease the angle of your approach run from 55 degrees to 40 degrees as you become more skilful. The faster you approach the more skilful and powerful you will need to become to convert this forward speed into upward lift. Keep striving to utilise a faster approach into a steep lift off throughout the whole of your high jumping career. Many of our best high jumpers approach the bar in much the same way as they did at school they have failed to recognise the importance of a fast approach. Do not make the same mistake. Yet do not be so impatient as to try to approach too fast for your present level of skill.

Layout and clearance

A straddle roll technique is very efficient. There is a tenancy to rotate too much on the ground but if you do your straight jump practices you can prevent this. Try to drape your body around the bar. The left foot jumper will get his right arm and head over the bar first, followed by the right leg. Keep your r chin close to your chest and make sure the arms and legs are bent.
If you do this successfully, then by turning the left foot outwards and upwards you will rotate around the bar and the left arm and leg will be lifted clear.

Of course now you will be rolling on to your back. You will land in the pit across the lower shoulder, so a soft landing area is essential.


1. Straight jumps off the fastest 5 7 stride approach you can manage at your present level of skill and power, 6 x 10 sets. You may do this training with or without a bar, indoors or outdoors. Using a gymnasium beat board would provide an inclined surface (a built up shoe provides the same kind of mechanical advantage) enabling you to spend more time over the take off foot. It should help you to develop backward lean and low hip position.

2. Continuous hopping 6 x 50 each leg.

3. Six jumps starting with the bar 5 inches below best height and increasing the height of the bar by 1 inch after each successful jump.

4. Pyramid lifts, using a short squat with the weights in a squat rack.

If you are looking for details on the Fosbury Flop style of high jumping click here


 !   High jump

The high jump involves athletes jumping over a horizontal bar without knocking it off. The high jump bar is raised each time the athletes successfully clear each height. The technique shown above is called the Fosbury Flop, named after Dick Fosbury who was the first high jump athlete to win a Major Championship by clearing the bar backwards. Famous UK high jump athletes include Dalton Grant and Susan Jones (above).

UK Record

Steve Smith 2.37 20 September 1992 Seoul, KOR
2.37 22 August 1993 Stuttgart, GER
Diana Elliott/Davies 1.95 26 June 1982 Oslo, NOR
Susan Jones 1.95 24 June 2001 Bremen, GER

High Jump

Javier Sotomayor 2.45 27 July 1993 Salamanca, ESP
Stefka Kostadinova 2.09 30 August 1987 Rome, ITA

You and the high jump

Children of your age can practice the high jump. You should aim to jump as high as possible without removing the bar. An elastic bar is safer and may be used while you are practicing. There are two high jump techniques that you can use, the scissor jump and the fosbury flop. However, it is advised that you practice and develop your skills at the scissor jump first. In addition, the fosbury flop cannot be practiced unless you are using a high jump bed with a safe landing area.

Frosbury Flop style

© 1966 by A. G. L. Ventre and Educational Productions Limited