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Developing the Hitch-Kick Style of Long Jumping

Developing the Hitch-Kick Style of Long Jumping

In my eyes, few track and field events are more exciting and interesting than the long jump. The powerful sprint down the runway, the graceful leap as the jumper seems to float through the air, the sudden landing with an explosion of sand – the long jump is truly amazing. But then I’m biased!

1: In my eyes, few track and field events are more exciting and interesting than the long jump. The powerful sprint down the runway, the graceful leap as the jumper seems to float through the air, the sudden landing with an explosion of sand-the long jump is truly amazing. But then I’m biased!

2: If you watch closely, you’ll notice that the jumper keeps pumping his arms and legs as though he were running in air. Although you might have assumed that this helps propel the jumper further through the air, ‘phantom’ running is actually necessary to maintain balance.

3: As the jumper sprints down the runway, he has forward motion. When he plants his foot to propel himself into the air, the jumper’s lower body stops for a moment.

4: Meanwhile, the jumper’s upper body continues moving forward unchecked, creating a forward rotation of the body around its center of gravity. If no corrective action is taken, the forward rotation will make the jumper topple forward, head-first into the pit. How many times have we seen this!

5: Known as the “hitch kick,” a running motion helps the jumper maintain balance in the air. When a person runs, he bends his knees as his legs move forward and straightens his legs as they move backwards. In effect, this is a fast forward rotation of the legs.

6: The wind-milling motions of the arms are also fast forward rotations. Making some parts of the body rotate faster causes other parts of the body to rotate more slowly to compensate.

7: The movement of the arms and legs in effect uses up the jumper’s bodily rotation, leaving nothing for the torso. That way, the torso can stay upright after takeoff.

8: It might sound complicated but a hitch-kick is quite easy to introduce to a youngster who is blessed with above average speed levels. It would be pointless to introduce this to a jumper who by comparison is slower. A hitch kick requires air-time so speed is a prerequisite.

9: The hitch-kick is also known as “climbing” or “running in the air”. This technique counteracts the athlete’s rotational velocity by cycling the arms and legs during the flight, and is regarded by many jumps coaches as the most complex technique.

10: In-the-air techniques are generally selected by the athlete and coach during training based on an individual athlete’s skills and experience.

11: When landing, it is the primary objective of the jumper not to fall back in the landing pit. As you all know, the jump is measured from the location in which the body contacts the sand closest to the take-off point.

12: For this reason many jumpers will work on keeping their feet in front of the body at a maximum distance from the hips. Then use their arms in a sweeping motion to help keep the legs up and the body forward.

13: Upon contacting the ground, the jumper will push their legs hard into the sand and rotate the body side-ways, this slows the vertical (downward) momentum of the bottom and also rotates it to the side of the athlete trying to ensure that the heels are the furthest back body part.

14: The hitch kick is an important technique for young jumpers who are quick to master because it gives them greater in-flight balance than either the hang or the stride techniques.