High Jump Run-Up

This page is a disscusion page for the approach phase of the high jump. Although the high jump has been one of the most intensely studied events in track and field, knowledge of it is still imperfect, and there is plenty of room for doubts and disagreements. It is by open discussion of these doubts and disagreements that we will improve our understanding of this event, and ultimatly create robust paradigms and principles to teach and coach from.

I will be posting title links to the posts that I have written regarding the high jump approach and other biomechanical factors involved in running and jumping. Click each title to read the full article.

High Jump Run-up Calculation – click here

A simple guide to a technique developed by British high jump expert Mike Dolby, for calculating an accurate run-up

Run-up speed vs vertical speed of jump – click here

This shows the relationship between the speed of approach runing and the vertical velolcity produced in the jump. The male jumps at the top end exceed 2.40 meters in the actual hight jumped. Over 4.2 m/s vertical velocity is required for top male high jumpers producing 1.20m + of vertical jump, this requies a run-up speed of around 7 – 8 m/s

Pronation at take-off – click here

Pronation of the ankle joint at take-off can be fatal to the high jumper. Jesus Depena was first made aware of this pronation problem after discussion with my old trainer Mike Dolby in the late 1980’s. After seeing the videos like these he went on to define the biomechanical problem and to describe the forces and movement angles involved in take-off. Thank you very much Jesus, you are a good man.


18 Responses to High Jump Run-Up

  1. Hi, very nice i have learned many tips from this page great nice job.fantastic hub full of information, well done!


  2. Glen Stone says:

    Take a look at High Jump Coach 2010 for comparison.


  3. Justin McQuality says:

    Yes, I’m a coach at State University of New York-Fredonia in the US. In
    the past I’ve been primarily a horizontal jumps and multi-event coach
    and now I’m coaching primary high jumpers as well, so I’ve been trying
    to find an easy, but more accurate way of determining what the athletes
    approach should really be. I’m not the most mathematical savvy guy, so
    I’m struggling a bit figuring out exactly how to use your calculator in
    a way that differentiates from athlete to athlete. I coach both female
    and male athletes and they come in all shapes, sizes, and ability level.
    From 1.52m female jumpers to 2.03m male jumpers. So, if you could
    explain how I’d use your calculator to determine the approach (6
    straight, 4 curve) of say a male jumper that is 1.90m tall as opposed to
    a female jumper using the same stride pattern that is 1.72m tall I think
    it would really help me understand your calculations better?


    Coach Q

    Justin McQuality


  4. Simon Hunt says:

    So how to use the calculator for individual athletes. First it
    is best to view the instructional video.

    All the information you need IS in the video if you watch a few times
    and follow. Just to clarify a few things first, I always mark the foot
    strike on the floor with a drawing pin in the centre of the foot NOT
    the toe.

    I will describe for a left foot take off jumper running from the right
    hand side. You need to know three things to make a run up. 1) length
    of the six stride straight, 2) length of the 4 stride curve, 3) take
    off position and angle. Each athlete will have a different curve and
    straight length. ALL VALUE MUST BE IN METERS. So how do we measure the
    average length of an athletes 4 stride curve?

    Use an open area of the track with no high jump bed in it. Draw a 1/4
    circle on the floor with chalk using a radius of 8 – 10m depending on
    the speed and stride length of the athlete, bigger and faster needs
    9.5m + radius on a five stride curve so you may need to use a 7 – 9m
    radius to begin with. Mark the centre of the circle. Once drawn place
    a high jump bar stand towards the end of the curve to simulate the
    plane the the bar will be on. Place small cones around the curve to
    guide the athlete. Precisely at the start of the curve place a ´T´
    mark on the floor (as in video). Do not move this mark this is the one
    that the athlete must accurately hit (right foot) at the end of the 6
    stride straight. Get the athlete to run thought a few times to get a
    feel, and to place the start mark correctly so they hit the ´T´ mark
    on the 6th stride.

    I do 3-4 sets of 3 high speed run through´s with a jump with 5 mins
    break between sets. You will need 2 people with drawing pins to mark
    the centre of the right foot on the 6th (´T´ mark) stride and left
    foot take off. At the end of the 3 sets of 4 run throughs you should
    have 12 pins around the T mark and 12 pins around the take off area.
    At each area remove the two extreme pins and place all the pins at the
    centre of the grouping. Now measure the distance between the two
    points following the chalk line on the floor, THIS WILL GIVE YOU YOUR
    EXCEL FILE. Measure from the T mark to the start mark for you straight
    length (6 strides).

    Now you, as coach must decide on an appropriate take off position and
    angle to be entered into the excel file. I recommend an angle between
    30 and 40 degrees. Below 30 degrees has been show to have a high risk
    of stress on the medial side of the ankle (J.Depena 1995 USATF
    report). Take off position is usually about 30 cm along the bar form
    the near stand, and 60 – 100 cm out from the bar. A slower lower
    jumper will need 40 cm in and 60 cm out to be clearing the centre of
    the bar. Faster higher jumpers can require 10 cm in and 100 cm out.
    Just experiment with the take off position, you can´t go wrong!

    Hope this make things clearer for you. Just keep trying, it gets
    easier the more you do.

    Will be glad to answer any more questions you may have. let me know
    how it goes and what kind of run ups you end up with. I like to draw
    the curve on the floor with chalk during training. If you stand
    directly behind the athlete at take off about 10 – 15 meters away you
    will see how they are placing their feet on the curve, very useful.
    Also you can place a camera at the centre of the curve and film the
    athlete running, an excellent point of view. Hope your athletes jump
    well and this information helps you all achieve the success you are
    looking for.

    Kind Regards

    Simon Hunt


    • nenad peisker says:

      Hi There!
      My name is Peisker Nenad and I am coaching High Jump (girls-190 plus). Good comfortable runup was always my plan but not sure which is one.
      When you are measuring your 1/4 of the circle does one and represent take of point so if these 5 steps are to squashy I have to move other end of 1/4 of the circle back?


  5. jump program says:

    Hello. Thanks for the video. I am also looking forward to jump higher someday. I’m currently doing it this time.


  6. esoj says:

    me gustaria saber la metodologia para enseñar el salto alto desde el principio


  7. gary bastien says:

    Hi Simon, gary bastien here. I talked to you before. Do you still have on this site those bounding drills that where you were jumping on the pole vault pits? Let me know if you do.

    If you don’t could you email a video or link at garybastien@msn.com or gbastien@emich.emu

    Thanks loads simon.



  8. THEODOROU says:

    Hi one question.
    Does the center of the circle should coinside with the midline of the high jump bar?


    • Simon Hunt says:

      No those two points don´t line up, The curve centre will change with length and take off angle and position. It is the best place to film from and you need to mark it to draw the curve with chalk.


  9. Noenie says:

    I just want to find out in high jump my daughter is 11 years do you move your runup back
    everytime the bar goes higher.


    • Ultharth says:

      Run up should be always consistence no matter what’s the weather condition or height.


      • sihunt.co.uk@googlemail.com says:

        Absolutely right. Consistency should be any sportsman’s main weapon. Its better to run a uniform curve rather than a spiral, easier to control in the wet.


    • sihunt.co.uk@googlemail.com says:

      No, not necessarily. She should be jumping from about 50-60 cm away from the bar. The faster the approach the longer the strides (usually) so move the start of the curve back when she runs faster. A faster approach make higher jumping possible.


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  11. Hunter Jackley says:

    You can start from your designated take-off position and say you’re taking a 10 step approach. You would generally take 6 increasingly faster, longer strided, steps before you start to curve and 4 more shorter sprint step to get your take-off position. The last two steps should be the shortest, and right before takeoff, lower your hips and dip your shoulder ever so slightly to get the extra momentum and full force for your leg extension. Make sure to slightly lean in while taking the curve and waiting to lean back out until after your jump and due do centripetal force, you will have more vertical velocity added to your jump but if you lean too early then you will lose height. Your arms should “gather” behind you and your right arm should shoot up and stay up during your jump to lead the rest of your body (for left-foot takeoff), and you should drive your knee and arm to look like you are performing a layup in basketball. During your flight, your back should begin to arch and should be fully extended by the time you pass over the bar, and you have to make sure you are trying to get your hips as high as you can because that is where your center of gravity should be located before flight. Your legs should follow your torso, you should extend them right at the end of your flight so you do not clip the bar with your heels.


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