Triple Jump Drills and Tips

Triple jumpers such as 2015 World Championship gold medalist Christian Taylor require strong technique and excellent timing to succeed in their event. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The triple jump involves much more than just bounding twice and then jumping into the pit. Successful triple jumpers need solid technique and excellent timing to maintain as much momentum as possible while still being in the correct position for their final takeoff. To help triple jumpers learn the event and improve their technique, jumps coach Macka Jones of the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation offered the following drills during a presentation at the 2015 Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association’s annual clinic.

Right-Right, Left-Left

This simple drill begins with a short approach run. The jumper then hops forward twice off the right foot, and then twice on the left foot to complete one repetition. Do at least five reps. Try to remain in the air a bit longer when transferring from the right to the left foot, and vice versa, to help simulate the triple jump’s step phase.

The step phase transition, Jones explained during his MITCA presentation, “is the most elusive part of the triple jump," particularly for long jumpers who are transitioning to triple jump. "You get a lot of long jumpers who want to triple jump," Jones continued. "So what do the long jumpers do? They run down and they try to jump as far as possible. But when you get a (jumper) who has to jump three times, and they’re a long jumper, what do you think their goal is? They want to get to the pit as quickly as possible; they want to get to that long jump phase. So what they'll do is, they'll run down and they may load up on that first one … so they'll jump, and they'll float on that … and then they'll crash. Their hips are out of position, the body’s out of position, and they have to recover from this. So the only way to recover is to do a quick step, to load up for that (final) jump. … I call that the double jump. Because really all they did was take two jumps. They stepped and then jumped again." Ideally, Jones adds, the three phrases should be performed with a steady rhythm, with each phase taking an equal amount of time.

While performing this, and other triple jump drills, jumpers should keep their toes up while in air for as long as possible, but should avoid landing heel-first on the track. Instead, jumpers should try to land with as flat a foot as possible.

Stiff-Leg Hops

From a standing start, with the left knee bent and the left foot off the track, the jumper hops forward twice on the right leg. The right knee should be kept as straight as possible while hopping. As with the previous drill, perform an additional two stiff-leg hops on the left foot to complete one repetition, and perform at least five reps. This drill helps limit the natural lowering of the hips that can occur during each triple jump phase.

"That lowering activity is actually going to slow you down,” Macka explains, adding,  “when you’re high jumping or long jumping or triple jumping, there is a lowering (of the hips). That occurs naturally. It's your body's safety net; it's trying to protect itself. The problem is, we’re trying to (build) speed, and we’re trying to transfer that speed all the way through the jump. If you're running through and you (lower your hips), and then you have to recover and go into another jump, you just slowed yourself down. We want to limit that as much as possible."

With this drill, as well as the other triple jump drills, jumpers should maintain an erect posture, without leaning to the left or right. Additionally, athletes shouldn’t try to jump too high – they should jump for distance, rather than height.

Cone Drill

To help beginning triple jumpers get a feel for the timing and rhythm required in this event, place three cones in a line, 5 feet apart. The jumper takes a short approach run and then executes the triple jump’s three phases. The athlete’s foot should land next to the appropriate cone during each phase. As the jumper improves, spread the cones farther apart. Eventually, add more distance between the second and third cones, to help the jumper work on the transition between legs that occurs during the step phase.

Alternate Leg Bounding

From a standing start, the jumper bounds forward, switching legs with each bound. Athletes can begin with short bounds and work their way up to longer bounds, as long as they maintain a consistent rhythm. This drill can lead in to a game called “least amount of hops,” in which athletes bound on alternate legs between two points, roughly 15 to 20 yards or meters apart. The jumper who travels the distance while using the fewest bounds wins. The game can also be used to identify potential triple jumpers; again coaches will be looking for the athletes who can bound the farthest.

Other Comments

Jones notes that triple jump drills are also helpful for long jumpers. A typical triple jump drill, he says, “creates reactive strength. It allows them to get that recovery that they need. It helps with foot strike; it helps with posture." Additionally, all the drills mentioned above can be performed indoors, preferably on a gym floor, which has some give to it.

To evaluate new triple jumpers, Jones advises that coaches first look at how jumpers use their feet – make sure they’re landing properly and pushing off of the track quickly. Next, make sure their hips aren't dipping. “‘Stay tall through the hips,’ that's a good cue,” Macka says. A triple jumper’s torso, he adds, should maintain an almost straight vertical line throughout the jump.

On a more personal note, Jones believes that “every triple jumper should have a punch-him-in-the-face attitude. ... you need to take that same mentality into the triple jump. It's an aggressive sport. You have to be aggressive. So if you’ve got kids with a little bit of a mean streak, that competitive nature, it'll come out in (triple jump), because they’re going to want to win. And they’re really going to put their all into it and they’re going to try to get out far."

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