Triple Jump Technique and Training

By Jim Giroux

Triple jump technique is much like the game hop scotch that young children play. An athlete must take off and land on the same leg then land on the next opposite leg before landing in the pit. This event has many of the same characteristics that the long jump displays during the approach. At takeoff, however the differences end, good triple jumpers will takeoff at a much flatter angle than in the long jump. We will examine the technical requirements and methods to develop them as well as how to set up the training day and week. The triple jump has 1) Acceleration 2) Maximum Controllable Speed 3) Takeoff and the Hop 4) The Step and 5) The Jump and Landing.

Acceleration and Maximum Controllable Speed

The ability to accelerate quickly is developed by addressing technique and strength (starting and explosive). In the triple jump approach, somewhere between the 4-6 total steps (2 or 3 rights/lefts) are used to accelerate to maximum speed. The slower your athletes are the faster they will get to top speed. Your faster athletes will take longer to achieve maximum speed. The remaining number of steps are done at maximum controllable speed. Maintenance of this speed and the upright posture at the end of the approach is crucial to success.

Acceleration Drills

Wall Series
1. Start your athlete with their hands against a wall or fence with their torso leaning from the ankle at 45 degrees with one knee up.  Adjust them as needed. Have them “feel” the straight line from their head through their shoulders, hips, knees and finally feet. Repeat the drill without aligning the athlete
2. From position A, have the athlete take 3 or 5 steps in place (walking, marching and finally running) watch that their feet land in the same position they start in. Repeat watching and cueing the straight line from head to toe.
3. Have the athlete repeat the drill keeping lined up but gradually getting more upright with each foot contact, so they end up standing.
 
Partner Series
1. Have the athlete assume the same leaning start, supported at the shoulders by a partner’s hands; the partner will be facing the athlete.
2. Do a five step start by first marching, progressing to a full effort push.
3. Repeat the full effort start, but at five steps the partner will step out of the way allowing the athlete to continue to accelerate.
4. After assuming the correct lean against the partner, the athlete is released to accelerate on their own. This series of drills can also be done with resistance from the rear like a towel, belt or harness.

Teaching the Rocking Start
The athlete will begin with their takeoff foot forward and rock back so most of their weight is on the rear leg. Make sure they swing their arms in opposition to their legs when pushing out of this position and “rocking” back over their front leg. All forces should be directed horizontally into the ground. By starting in this fashion the athlete is able to use momentum generated from the rock to aid the start. It helps insure a consistent reliable, start that leads to an accurate approach. 

Coaching Cues for Acceleration Work
Push, lean from the ankle. Tell the athlete to be patient while executing this part of the approach, allowing the foot contact with the ground to gradually stand them up.

Maximum Speed

Much has been written about this quality. Speed can be worked on with running drills, sprints of various intensities and distances, hill running, over speed towing, approaches with or without a takeoff and other sophisticated methods. The key elements of speed as they relate to the jumps are maintenance of posture and pelvic position through to the end of the approach.

The Takeoff and Hop

Elite athletes set up the takeoff and first phase (hop), novice ones survive the landing from their long jump like takeoff. In the triple jump, there is no need to coach takeoff height most beginners will need to be convinced that running through the board is more important. There should be no marked difference between takeoff and previous steps of the approach other than the heel to toe (rocking) ground contact. Attempting to run past the foot while it is on the board is a great cue. Horizontal movement is the emphasis of the takeoff action. Allow the stretch on the hip flexors to put the takeoff leg in position for the step rather than actively “cycling”. By avoiding cycling the leg the transition to slower tempo of jumping is smoother. You can get very technical with coaching the free limbs, simply put have them continue to move as close to running as possible. The hop will generally be the longest of the three phases. Most importantly, it should set up the step and conserve horizontal momentum.

Takeoff and Hop Drills

Standing Triple Jump Series
1. Two leg start – start like the athlete will do a standing long jump. Before landing have the hop foot begin the triple jump action (RRL or LLR) into the pit.
2. Takeoff foot start – like other drill but start with feet staggered (takeoff foot forward) then complete (RRL or LLR).
3. Walking starts – same as B but begin one extra step back (takeoff foot is moving or walking into the jump). Add steps to the walk in.

3-5 Step Approach & Hop with Knee Landing in Pit
This drill is done to acclimate the athlete to holding the takeoff position (initially).  Landing will be with the swing leg forward and the takeoff leg back (lunge position). Next the takeoff leg is brought into the landing position for the step. Landing will be with the takeoff leg forward and swing leg back.

Short and Full Approaches with and without a Hop
Run throughs without a takeoff can be done from full and short approaches. If a hop will be done, do these from the nearest board to the pit so athletes don’t have to land on the runway. These should be done in spikes.

The Step

Getting athletes to be in position for the step is most important. Much of this is done by focusing on the approach and hop. Some work to ready the athlete for this crucial transition is necessary. General coaching cues are to maintain horizontal velocity and to be patient (wait for the ground to come to you). Contact is best made with the rocking full foot contact described in the other phases.

Step Drills

In Place Series
1. Hop on one leg emphasizing complete extension on ground contact.
2. Next the athlete will kick their butt after complete extension into the ground.
3. Next the athlete will kick their butt and fold their knee up
4. Last they will begin to move forward about a foot at a time. Although much of this sequence will ultimately be set up by stretch reflexes, athletes need to learn this remedial series to prepare for the forces they will encounter on a full jump.

Walk & Run in Bounding Series
Use any combinations of Rights and Lefts from walking and short approaches.  Favorite sequences (for left foot takeoff) LLLLR, LLLR, LLRR. Depending on the level of athletes you have, small boxes (6-18”) can be used at different parts of the series to challenge the athlete.

Short Approach Jumps with a Knee Landing
Do the hop and step from a very short approach with a knee landing right foot forward left knee back (for left foot takeoff). When doing any short approach work athletes should run as quickly as they can from that distance. Emphasize getting into upright position early so drills are reinforced in good posture. No chopped or elongated steps should be used prior to takeoff.

The Jump

At this point in the jump, the athlete has slowed considerably. It is crucial to success of the jump to have ground contact underneath the body. This reduces deceleration and allows the athlete to continue to apply forces horizontally. Most jump phase work will be done in conjunction with other phase work. Isolating this part could have the athlete setting up a long jump like takeoff. Some “weak leg” long jumps will help the athlete feel what will happen during this phase. Additional single leg hopping after some step work is a good way for the athlete to better align themselves during this phase. An example would be for a left foot takeoff LLRRR or LLRR.

Practice Suggestions

No Meets - 5 Practice Days
Day 1
• Dynamic Warm up, including some full speed 30-50 meter build ups or accelerations.
• Triple jump approaches 4-8, with and without takeoffs in spikes.
• Pick 1-2 drills from phase work, more standing and walk in early.
• Finish with some short approach jumps.
• Weight training (if available and supervised).

Day 2
• Dynamic Warm up, include longer build ups to 80-90% between 50-100 meters.
• Plyometrics (if taught correctly and monitored).
• Medicine Ball (if taught and monitored).
• Interval training (shorter of the two days).

Day 3
• Continuous Warm up (up to 30’ minutes, more work related exercises, core, legs etc.).
• Conditioning Circuits (focus on legs, jump like exercises burpees etc.).
• Weight training (if lifting 3x/wk otherwise do it on Day 4).

Day 4
Same as Day 1 except no weight training (if lifting only 2x wk then save weight training until today).

Day 5
Same as Day 2 except longer intervals

Saturday Meet - 5 Practice Days
Changes to above schedule

Day 2 - eliminate or dramatically reduce plyos.

Day 3 - Could be 2nd jump day (like day 4).

Day 4 - If 2nd jump day is moved this becomes like Day 5, Keep intervals like day 2 and no plyos.

Day 5 - This a shake out or pre meet day, Dynamic warm up followed by multi throws or med ball throws.


Two Meets In a Week (Assume Tuesday and Saturday Meet)
Day 1 - This becomes Day 2, no plyos, if you’re lifting, do day 1 here

Day 2 -  Meet

Day 3 -  Like original day (Recovery, conditioning) or Intervals like original Day 2

Day 4 -  Like original day

Day 5 -  Pre meet or Shake out

Notes

  • If you compete twice a week, consider looking at two weeks at a time for getting workouts in (e.g. Maybe one week on Wed you recover or condition with circuits, etc. The following week you run intervals)
  • Consider other events your athletes are in for planning, particularly if they work with a different coach.

References

Level 2 Jumps USATF Jumps book
Presentation Notes - Boo Schexnayder “Triple Jump” Atlantic City 2002



Jim Giroux, CSCS holds an M.S. in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts and Coached for 12 years at UMASS ( Field Events, Sprints, Hurdles). Jim is also USATF Level II Certified in Jumps. Jim presents on numerous subjects at clinics around the U.S. and is another one of the M-F Athletic “Road Warrior” sales and service team members.

Questions or Comments:
jim.giroux@performbetter.com (800-693-6051)