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Triple Jump Training

Triple jump training is a unique athletic endeavour. Triple jump is a highly technical event, requiring a great level of skill development, strength, speed and power.

There are four phases of a triple jump:

1- The Approach: The approach is the run-up to the pit. Generally this phase involves 17 - 18 strides. The athlete must generate as much speed as possible while maintaining coordination to take off on the correct foot and not over or under step the line.

2 - The Take-Off/Hop Phase: This phase involves a powerful single leg jump off your strongest leg. Once the athlete leaves the ground the hopping/take-off leg tucks into the buttocks and cycles in a circular motion in preparation to land on the same leg for the next phase.

3 - The Step Phase: From here the take-off leg should have fully cycled around in preparation to land again. The same leg hit’s the ground and pushes off in a powerful bound. Here the leg tucks behind but does not cycle forwards. Instead the opposite leg remains forward in preparation for the final phase.

4 - The Jump Phase: This time the athlete lands on the non-dominant leg, the opposite leg to the one performing the first two bounds. From this leg a final powerful bound takes place into the pit.

After the jump phase the athlete should position his or herself to land in the pit with two feet. It preferred to land in a way that ensures you fall to your side after landing, so as not to lose distance by touching the sand behind your landing with any other part of your body.

Arm Action

There are two arm actions that can be applied to the triple jump. The single arm action and double arm action. Here we are concerned primarily with the double arm action, as used by Jonathon Edwards, world record holder of the triple jump.

The double arm action produces a more forceful jump and provides better upper body mechanics to efficiently jump without wasted energy.

As the take-off is initiated the arms pause in front of the body, as opposed to swinging behind. Once the take-off foot contacts the ground the arms are driven forward and slightly upwards to shoulder level. The angle of the elbows is greater than 90 degrees to create a more forceful forward impulse. As the take-off leg cycles up, back and then forwards, the arms take a similar cyclical pattern.

I recommend watching a slow motion video on youtube of Edwards performing the triple jump from 1994 onwards.

Foot Strike

The athletes foot strikes the ground with an extended leg, ankle slightly dorsi-flexed as the ground is forcefully struck mid-foot. The athlete follows through by rolling forwards onto the ball of the foot while pushing off the ground.

Distribution

The triple jump, like any other athletic event, has a best practice for achieving the most favourable result. It has been deemed as being 35% hop phase, 30% step phase and 35% jump phase.

I think slightly differently, with a greater emphasis being placed on that initial take-off, or hop phase, being that it sets up the rest of the jump. The step phase should be slightly less emphasised in order to allow for greater coordination of the jump phase. The jump phase has slightly less emphasis than the hop phase. So for instance, I recommend a split that goes something like 40% hop phase, 25% step phase and 35% jump phase. This has worked very successfully with myself and other triple jumpers I have trained.

Triple jump training is not an exact science, not yet anyway. There are always improvements being made to the sport. Triple jump training needs to approach things in an adaptive, experimental nature. Being one of the less followed sports in track and field I believe triple jumpers are at an advantage, in that they are yet to reach anywhere near true potential. There is plenty of room for growth in the world of triple jump.

Effective Triple Jump Training to Cover all Bases

Due to the complex skill requirements of the triple jump and the multiple components of physical capacity, triple jump training can be a tough thing to master. The triple jumper must balance out each aspect of strength, speed and power and train these in a way that best produces optimal results. All this while developing the best level of technical skill for the event itself.

We will look at triple jump training from a perspective of both training phases and training components. A phase is the time of year you’re training relative to your experience and the competition schedule. A component is an aspect of fitness. For instance the triple jump has components such as jumping power, strength, sprinting speed etc. These are prerequisites for high level performance.

PLEASE NOTE - The following phases and components do not apply just as a once off effort that is never repeated. Whether the athlete is brand new to the event or competing at the Olympic games each phase must be undertaken in cyclical fashion. In other words, you will repeat the foundational phase and build from the bottom up every season.

Foundational Phase

The foundational phase of any athletic training programme is characterised by building non-specific foundations that can later be used to lead into more and more specific training. During the foundational phase the athlete aims to build a solid base in each broad component required of a triple jumper.

Strength

Triple jump training is not something that can be undertaken with no prior experience in the event itself and without building an extensive base. Triple jump is a highly demanding sport, placing more structural strain on the human body than any other track and field event by a long way. For this reason it is essential that strength is developed before anything else. Without strength the tall building is built on sand, and a tall building built on sand will fall down.

In the foundational phase the triple jumper must develop a solid base of overall strength in major compound movement patterns. During this phase the repetition range can vary from 3-7 reps. Exercises include squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, standing military press and some auxiliary movements like leg press with one leg at a time, heavy lunges etc. Keep it simple, keep the movements large and aim to progress.

Raw Power

During the foundational phase of triple jump training there is no need to involve highly specific power training to the programme such as single leg bounding. This will place too much load and impact on unprepared joints and will lead to injury.

Instead of reactive power, where there is limited but forceful ground contact, here the focus is on raw power, which is developed through power exercises that involve greater ground contact time such as squat jumps, scissor jumps, standing long jump etc.

Speed

In the foundational phase of triple jump training speed is developed as a completely separate component. Meaning that it is not yet put to use in the context of triple jump itself. Speed training during this phase is simply about being able to sprint faster over a short distance. Therefore short but powerful sprint drills are used.

Broad Skill Development

At this stage of development triple jump training need not take on too much of a technical component. The aim here is to develop the raw physical capacity to base further development upon. This is achieved largely through the preceding components, which serve to prepare the athlete to be able to cope with the increasingly heavy demands of the sport of triple jump.

Broad technical skill development in the foundational phase of triple jump training involves basic drills that are designed to develop a foundation or a base from which to build upon. Drills such as standing triple jumps, single take-offs (like in a long jump) and single leg bounding are used. At this stage the athlete is simply performing the basic motion without too much emphasis on the finer points. As mentioned, this serves to build a base. Later the athlete will convert these basic skills to more complex components of the triple jump technique.

Developmental Phase

The developmental phase is where the athlete spends most of their time. From here an athlete should possess a solid foundation and the ability to cope with the demands of more specific training. Here the athlete further builds raw physical capacity with the introduction of more specific skills to the sport, involving specific drills.

Strength

By this stage of triple jump training the athlete should possess a high level of strength in basic and non-specific patterns of movement. The idea of the developmental stage is to ramp up intensity and add an element of specificity. From generic movements such as deadlifts, squats, rows, bench press etc, more specific movements are added such as single leg deadlifts, weighted step-ups, Olympic lifts and kettlebell exercises.

Elastic Power

In the foundational phase the athlete should have built a high level of raw power in basic power movements such as squat jumps, standing long jump, box jumps etc. The development phase sees the athlete building on raw power with what I like to call elastic power. Elastic power in power that is specific to sports the involve a single leg take-off. Raw power does not take into account ground contact time, whereas elastic power does. To understand the difference think of a vertical jump test (raw power) and a 40 yard sprint (elastic power). The vertical jump test is about exerting as much force as possible from an unmoving/static position, as fast as possible. A sprint involves exerting as much force as possible with the emphasis on speed of movement as well as speed of transfer from one movement to the next. In this case being one stride to the next. The foot strikes the ground forcefully in a relatively stiff position, minimal absorption is involved before the concentric phase of the movement, which is to occur as soon as possible after the foot hit’s the ground. This sort of power has an elastic quality, like pulling back a rubber band and snapping it forward so that it propels.

Speed and Transfer

In the foundational phase the athlete develops raw speed in order to sprint along the take off faster. The developmental phase starts putting the puzzle together and combining that speed with transfer and timing into an actual jump. Much of the speed drills of the foundational phase remain here. In addition to this training the athlete will practice generating a high level of speed over the course of 20-30 metres and setting up the initial take off for the jump. Drills will include timing drills and practice of the single long jump, while hitting the line with the correct foot in the correct place.

Specific Skill Development

Broad skills were developed during the foundational phase. Thee skills were basic in nature and simply teach the athlete to jump in any capacity. During the developmental phase the emphasis is on the specifics of the triple jump and the individual phases of the jump. During this phase there will be a lot of single leg bounding drills, standing triple jumps, timing drills and actual jump practice. In addition to this the athlete will break down each individual component of the triple jump and practice each in isolation and in the context of a full jump with both shortened and full approach phase.

Preparation Phase

The preparation phase of triple jump training is where the athlete puts the icing on the cake. The foundational and developmental phases exist to bring an athlete 95% of the way to their ultimate potential in the event. The preparation phase is that difficult final 5%. It determines the difference that makes the difference.

Strength

Strength in this phase is limited to maintenance and simplicity. Volume is slightly reduced and movements are limited to only the specific exercises that contribute to the triple jump event. Movements such as single leg deadlifts, Olympic lifts and high speed kettlebell and dumbells exercises are used. The primary focus for strength training during the preparation phase of triple jump training is on quality movements performed explosively so as to convert the strength developed into explosive power, particularly elastic power.

Specific Power

Much of this has been covered in the developmental phase. During that phase the idea is to bring the athlete 95% of the way to their full potential by developing specific elastic power. The focus of power training in the preparation phase is on using that power in specific drills related to the sport itself. Much of the plyometrics volume is reduced here to make way for a higher volume of specific triple jump drills.

Contextual Speed

Much like in the developmental phase, this phase of triple jump training puts speed to use in context. The aim is not to develop further speed here, it is more to practice using the largest percentage of that max speed without compromising coordination and timing. For this reason a lot of full speed approaches and full jumps are performed. The beginning of the phase starts with 60% speed approach and take off and quickly moves upwards, eventually hitting 100%.

Refined Skill Development

Most of the skill development is covered in other aspects of training during this phase. In addition to the speed, approach, take off and bounding drills the athlete will take each component of the event and perfect every last bit of it. Here the athlete will film their own jumps and break it down in super slow motion, improving every little piece of each phase of the event. The idea here is not to completely reengineer the athlete’s technique, but to tune it up. During the preparation phase of triple jump training the athlete will go from excellent to outstanding, not from poor to good. Most of the skill should already exist by this phase, only the last difficult 5% is left to build.

Putting the Phases Together

It must be clarified that these three major phases of triple jump training vary depending on the athlete’s level of experience and can be applied year after year for the beginner triple jumper all the way to the elite Olympic triple jumper.

Each phase of training is a requirement every season, and should be structured to serve the specific needs, experience level, skill level and competition schedule of the individual athlete. The foundational phase must be revisited every off-season to ensure the athlete maintains and builds a strong foundation. Without foundations the athlete has nothing else to work with. The developmental phase is where the most time is spent and is where most of an athlete’s overall ability comes from. The preparation phase is used as preparation in the latter stages before a competition. The duration of each phase is dependent on many factors from skill and experience to competition schedule.

Finally, during each phase of triple jump training there are multiple training cycles that make up the phase. The number and content of these cycles is dependent on the individual circumstances of the athlete. This is where periodisation comes in.

PLEASE NOTE - The preceding information is to be used as a guide to triple jump training for the coach and the athlete. Keep in mind that this is a broad set of guidelines and explanation for developing yourself or your athlete/s as a competitive triple jumper. There are so many variables, so many components that make up an effective triple jump training programme. This guide is just scratching the surface.

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