Looking at the high jumpers out there at the moment, my favourite is Maria Lasitskene. She’s been jumping very well in 2017. My brother used to watch old VHS recordings of his heroes over and over and try to imitate their style.
There are heaps on youtube. Here’s one where she clears 2.04. It’s good because it give you a camera view on the bar as she goes over.
Another jumper who I think has a beautiful style is Kajsa Bergqvist and here is a video of her jumping 2.08 indoors.
Watch them at half speed or quarter speed to catch the detail of the jumps.
Some things to watch.
1. Speed of the approach. The first part of the run up – the straight part – is where you are building up your speed – and these girls are really kicking it.
2. Maintaining your speed AND control as you run your bend. Notice how they lean into the corner just like you do when you’re running the top bend in the 200, just more so because it’s an ever increasingly smaller circle. Eyes should really be spotting that bar right now. Keep it in focus until you jump.
3. Arms back during the second last step.(the technical name for that step is the penultimate – just in case you ever hear someone talking about it, that’s all they mean) In video 2, at the 29 second mark you’ll see both of Kajsa’s arms are back, ready to drive through and up on take off.
4. You can’t see it well in these videos, but when you plant your foot ready to take off, it should be almost parallel to the mats, at most 15-20 degrees. You are basically side on to the bar.
5. As you drive your knee and arms you move from leaning in to the circle, to be upright. You know how I keep banging on about UP and OVER, not just over. This is the action you need to copy. Now don’t be looking at the bar anymore. You need to be able to complete your rotation away from the bar and if you keep your eyes on it, you simply can’t do this. Trust yourself.
So much depends on the run up being right, that if you nail it, the rest of the jump will go well.
6. Once your shoulders are up and over the bar, relax your arms down to beside your body, just above your hips (you don’t want to be banging the bar off) This will help you extend your head backwards and move your whole body into the arch.
7. Yes arch is important so keep doing those exercises I saw you do. But if you notice, Maria (video 1) doesn’t have a huge arch – look at 1.17 on the video (side view) but she does pull her hips up. So keep thinking about getting your hips up like you’re avoiding a hot surface. Your flexibility and arch will develop with practice.
8. Get your feet out of the way, but don’t think about flicking them, instead just concentrate on moving your thighs/knees towards your chest.
Other videos to watch
Jumping the Australian record of 2.36
Patrik Sjoberg jumping 2.42
It’s a poor quality video but it is in slow motion and shows you everything I’ve talked about. He was also the world record holder with this jump and in my opinion one of the most graceful jumpers ever.
The mens world record holder jumping 2.45 (world record) – skip forward to 2 minutes to see the jump, then watch the slow motion jump at 3 minutes. Again notice all the things that I mentioned above. Speed, curve, arms, hips up.
Just for the sake of it, watch my brother Lochsley Thomson when he was a teenager jumping 2.27. Without bias he is still one of the most beautifully easy and natural jumpers I have ever watched. He went to the Olympics and Commonwealth Games when he was a teenager, and at 11 years old he was jumping 1.50-160m.
Exercises To Do
So what can you do at home until your next jumps session? Have a look at the following video of plyometric drills. These are all super easy to do without any equipment.
The next set requires some equipment. If you don’t have hurdles or boxes you can modify with brooms on boxes – which is what my brother and I used in the back yard for years. For the single leg hops, jump over cereal boxes or school bags instead of landing on top of boxes. Anything you have around the home which is a good height for the strength in your legs to bound you over. I will do these in training too.
Scissor kick drills
Again you can do this over a broom placed on top of boxes at the height you are comfortable with. This guy is obviously practicing at a very high height, but practicing at waist heigh even will help with your knee drive.
This one is a super simple curve running drill which will help you get used to transitioning from running straight, then into the curve, then moving upright for takeoff.