Vertical & Horizontal Jumps Drills

Posted by Reuben Jones

So Latif has asked me several times to write a post giving coaches opportunities to improve their jumpers’ technique even when coaching large groups, without a jumps facility or when athletes/coaches are pressed for time. Over the summer, one of our horizontal jumpers competed for her country, Ghana, at the Commonwealth Games and the IAAF Continental Cup. She introduced several vertical and horizontal jumps drills to me she learned from her coaches over in Ghana. They were so helpful for her; we shared with the rest of the group and started incorporating some of them into our warm-ups, for more chances to improve the jumping skill.

This article was written in hopes that they will help you and your jumpers in the same way.

Alternating Leg Bounds (LRLR…)

How many of us coach a jumper who “tucks” their legs after takeoff to get a few more inches? It’s a futile attempt and counterproductive to the desired result. Short limbs speed up rotation. Long limbs slow rotation. Use this as a sprint development drill to teach a long, relaxed body at takeoff, including the limbs.

BENEFITS: TJ: Teaches proper entry and departure from the hop to the step to the jump phase. Develops coordination of arm swing from phase to phase. LJ: Helps athletes leave the ground in a relaxed state after takeoff.

CUES: You want to cue the heels sweeping the ground to ensure the legs stay long and relaxed under the hips. These alternating bounds are short, small and vertical with an emphasis on a complete push from the ground.


RELATED COACHING RESOURCE: Complete Technique & Teaching for the Jumping Events


Skips For Height With A Double or Single Arm Swing

Do you coach triple jumpers with a short third phase? Skips for height are a fundamental drill that emphasizes foot contact patterns, blocking of the swing leg and dictate the extension of the free leg in flight. Preach a double arm swing vs. single arm swing to differentiate between the horizontal jump events.

BENEFITS: Develops coordination of arm swing from phase to phase in the triple jump. Teaches proper entry into the jump phase. Prepares athletes for a safer landing into the sand pit.

CUES: Arms swing freely from the shoulder joints. Wrist must past the hips at the lowest point and wrist past the ears at the highest points. Heels stay close to the ground.


Heel-Toe A-Skips (L & R)

Do you have jumpers who reach for the board at takeoff? A-skips are usually elastic and contact with the ground is on the ball of the foot. Emphasize acceleration of the put down on one side. This helps with having a more active pull down on takeoffs.

NOTE: Excessively grabbing or clawing at the surface should not be taught and consequently prevents the elastic benefit.

BENEFITS: This specific drill teaches a proper preparation for takeoff and contact with the ground.

CUES: Lead with the heels. You will normally hear a full complete landing, instead of a quick, loud & short contact. Range of motion is more reserved compared to the normal A-skip.


RELATED COACHING RESOURCE: Workout Planning & Progressions For Combo Sprinters/Jumpers


A-Skips With A Vertical Takeoff (L & R)

For the athlete who feels rushed at takeoff, adding a vertical takeoff would be the next progression from Heel-Toe A-skips. Once the heel-toe landing is mastered, have your athletes’ push vertically and leave the ground a little.

BENEFITS: Teaches athletes how to enter the takeoff leave the ground properly in the long jump. Most triple jumpers get passive at the end of their phase and let gravity pull them down, essentially giving in and buckling at the knees as a result which causes a loss in the velocity carried. This specific drill builds on acceleration but also gets the leg underneath, preparing you to takeoff for the next phase.

CUES: A relaxed landing and takeoff. Lead with the heel to ensure a flat-footed takeoff. An active takeoff doesn’t allow the knee to give in to gravity by buckling before the foot gets off the ground. In flight, the takeoff leg should be free and extended, similar to the take off position in Skips for height. The non-takeoff leg is never addressed in this drill.


CHECK THIS OUT: Learn These Drills (And The More Advanced Progressions) *Directly* From Reuben Jones at the 2019 CTF Summer Clinic at Harvard University on July 20-21, 2019 


Watch The Entire Series of Drills With No Breaks

These are fundamental drills that help teach the jumping skill at slower speeds. Living in New York City, where track facilities are sometimes scarce, they serve as solid plan B options for our athletes. With a watchful eye, they can do a whole lot of good for athletes on the high school level. With skips for distance and run-run-jumps, you should have a long list of things to pull from when resources/time is limited.

If you enjoyed this, I have more advanced ones I can share with you!

Just leave a comment.

-Reuben Jones



Reuben Jones - Reuben Jones begins his third year as an assistant track & field coach at Princeton, specializing in the women’s hurdle, jump and sprint events for the Tigers. During the 2018 season, Jones helped the women’s sprinters/hurdlers/jumpers record seven indoor marks and ten outdoor marks that rank within the school’s all-time top 10. Jones came to Princeton after spreading his wings at Columbia University. During his three years in New York City, his women earned 26 All-Ivy honors in the sprints and jumps including program records in the 60m, 60m hurdles, 100m, 100m hurdles, 400m relay, 800m relay and triple jump. Jones began his Ivy League coaching career with a two-year tenure at Brown University – working with the men’s and women’s jumps and multi-events. Jones saw the jump/multi-event group earn five All-Ivy honors and record 16 marks that rank within the school’s all-time top 10. Jones graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He still holds the second fastest 60m and 100m times in school history.

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