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Mastering the High Jump

high jump

High jumping is an elegant and powerful sport that combines technique, strength, and strategy. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about high jumping, from its history to techniques and training tips that can take your performance to the next level.

History of High Jump

The high jump has been a staple of track and field events since ancient times. It was featured in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has evolved significantly over the years. Early techniques included the “Scissors” and “Western Roll,” but the introduction of the “Fosbury Flop” by Dick Fosbury in the 1968 Olympics revolutionized the sport and remains the dominant technique today.

Basic Technique and Rules


  1. Run-Up: Athletes can use a run-up to gain momentum before the jump.
  2. Takeoff: Must be made from one foot.
  3. Clearance: The goal is to clear the bar without knocking it down.
  4. Progression: Heights increase incrementally, and athletes have three attempts to clear each height.
  5. Elimination: Failure to clear three consecutive heights results in elimination.

Basic Technique

  1. Approach: Typically, a “J” shape is used to gather momentum.
  2. Takeoff: Strong, explosive push off one foot.
  3. Flight: Arch your back and lift your hips over the bar.
  4. Landing: Controlled fall onto the mat, minimizing impact.

High Jump Techniques

Fosbury Flop

  • Approach: Curved “J” run-up.
  • Takeoff: Off the inside foot, generating high vertical lift.
  • Flight: Arch the back over the bar; the head goes over first, followed by the shoulders, torso, and legs.
  • Landing: On the back, reducing injury risk.

Scissors Technique

  • Approach: Straight run-up.
  • Takeoff: Run straight at the bar and lift the inside leg first.
  • Flight: Legs scissor over the bar.
  • Landing: On feet and hands.

Western Roll

  • Approach: Curved run-up.
  • Takeoff: Jump off the outside foot.
  • Flight: Extend the body sideways over the bar.
  • Landing: On the side and back.

Benefits of the High Jump

  • Improves Explosive Power: Essential for many other sports.
  • Enhances Coordination and Timing: Helps in various athletic activities.
  • Increases Flexibility: Particularly in the legs and hips.
  • Builds Mental Resilience: Handling competition pressure.

Training Tips

  1. Explosive Leg Strength Training:
  • Squats, lunges, and box jumps.
  • Focus on building power and strength in your legs.
  1. Perfect Your Approach and Takeoff:
  • Repeated practice of the approach run and takeoff.
  • Focus on timing and stride length.
  1. Plyometric Training:
  • Enhance the stretch-shortening cycle.
  • Exercises like jump squats and plyo push-ups.
  1. Flexibility Work:
  • Stretch hips, hamstrings, and ankles.
  • Incorporate yoga or dynamic stretching routines.
  1. Technique Practice:
  • Consistent practice of your chosen jump technique.
  • Focus on form and body positioning.
  1. Video Analysis:
  • Record jumps to analyze and improve technique.
  • Identify areas for improvement.
  1. Rest and Recovery:
  • Schedule sufficient rest days.
  • Prevent overtraining and reduce injury risk.

Equipment Recommendations

  • Running Shoes: High-quality with excellent grip.
  • Jumping Spikes: Designed for high jump.
  • High Jump Bar and Standards: Adjustable for practice.
  • High Jump Mat: Sufficient cushioning.
  • Starting Block: Adjustable for approach runs.
  • Resistance Bands: For strength and flexibility training.
  • High-Speed Camera: For video analysis.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Skipping Warm-Up:
  • Leads to increased injury risk.
  • Focusing on Height Early:
  • Master approach and takeoff first.
  • Neglecting Rest:
  • Overtraining decreases performance.
  • Lack of Coaching:
  • Improper technique development.
  • Ignoring Flexibility:
  • It is crucial for optimal positioning over the bar.
  • Skipping Strength Training:
  • Limits takeoff power.
  • Inconsistent Training:
  • Impedes muscle memory.

Competition Strategies

  • Consistent Pre-Jump Routine:
  • Maintain focus and calm nerves.
  • Set Achievable Goals:
  • Build confidence with steady progress.
  • Utilize Full Approach:
  • Maximize speed and momentum.
  • Stay Composed:
  • Focus on technique and timing.
  • Adjust for Wind Conditions:
  • Tailwinds and headwinds affect the approach.
  • Analyze Competitors:
  • Learn from their strategies.
  • Mental Resilience:
  • Stay positive after failed attempts.
  • Listen to Your Coach:
  • Trust their advice during competition.
  • Optimize Rest:
  • Ensure peak performance.
  • Celebrate Progress:
  • Value improvements and experience.


What is the best way to improve my high jump technique?

The best way to improve your high jump technique is through consistent and focused practice. Work on your approach, takeoff, flight, and landing phases individually. Incorporate plyometric exercises to improve explosive power and flexibility routines to enhance your range of motion. Video analysis can also help identify areas for improvement.

How often should I train for the high jump?

It would help if you aimed to train 3-4 times a week, balancing high jump-specific training with strength and conditioning exercises. Rest and recovery days are essential to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injury.

What type of shoes are best for high jumping?

Specialized high jump spikes are recommended. These shoes provide excellent traction and support during takeoff and flight phases. Ensure they fit well and give a good grip on the track or jumping surface.

How high should I be able to jump to compete in the high jump?

The required jump height varies depending on the competition level. Beginners should aim to clear at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet), while elite high jumpers often clear heights exceeding 2 meters (6.56 feet). Assess your current ability and set progressive goals to improve.

Can the high jump help with performance in other sports?

Yes, high jump training can significantly enhance performance in other sports. The explosive power, coordination, and flexibility gained from high jump training benefit athletic activities like basketball, volleyball, and football, where similar physical attributes are required.

How can I avoid injuries while training for the high jump?

To avoid injuries:

  1. Ensure to warm up thoroughly before each training session.
  2. Focus on proper technique under the guidance of a coach and avoid pushing through pain.
  3. Incorporate rest days and engage in cross-training activities to balance muscle development.

What are the common mistakes to avoid in the high jump?

Common mistakes include:

  • Skipping warm-ups.
  • Focusing too much on height rather than technique.
  • Neglecting rest.
  • Ignoring flexibility training.
  • Inconsistent practice.

Proper coaching and adhering to a well-rounded training regimen can prevent these errors.

Is it necessary to have a coach for the high jump?

While not strictly necessary, having a coach can significantly accelerate your progress. A coach provides expert guidance on technique, offers personalized feedback, and helps you develop a structured training plan.

What should I expect during a high jump competition?

Competitions typically involve a warm-up period followed by progressive height challenges. Athletes have three attempts to clear each height. For optimal performance, stay focused on your pre-jump routine, manage your nerves effectively, and follow your coach’s advice.


Mastering the high jump requires dedication, proper technique, and consistent practice. Focusing on form, building strength, and avoiding common mistakes can elevate your performance. Remember, whether you’re training for personal improvement or preparing for competition, each jump is a step toward achieving your goals.

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