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Set Up Your High Jump Approach

Posted by Reuben Jones

Does anyone know HOW to set up the curved approach???    The modern high jump approach makes the jumper run in a distinctive shape along the track surface toward the pit, akin to the letter “J”.  By the end of this, you should know how to set up a base line for all your high jumpers’ approach. Please note that this set up lies to the LEFT of the pit for jumpers with left footed takeoffs, and to the RIGHT of the pit for jumpers with right footed takeoffs.

1.)   Measure 2’ out from the near standard, and then measure 2’ to the left of that mark.













2.)   Place an “X” at this point.








3.)   Next, place a mark 6” from the “X” that is diagonal and towards the middle of the runway.







4.)   Measure a line 18’ that begins at the near standard and ends outside the far standard.

















5.)   The second mark is placed on a line 30’ away from the first checkpoint.  Make sure the line is perpendicular to and outside the crossbar.
















Coaching Resource: Workout Planning & Progressions for Combo Sprinters/Jumpers

6.)   From the start of the 30’ checkpoint, grab your tape measure and extend it to the 6” mark you established earlier.








7.)   Anchor the tape measure that starts at the top of the approach and use the other end like a compass to map out a semi-circle.  Once the circle starts making its way towards the middle of the runway, stop.












































8.)   Create a straight line that is tangent to the semi-circle to insure that straight portion of the run is perpendicular to the bar.









There you have it!  The optimum radius is dependent upon the speed of the jumper, strength, curve running mechanics and posture.

Related Article: Drill Progressions for Jumpers (Early Season)

Just remember, moving your first checkmark toward the standard decreases the radius of the curve, while moving the line away from the standard increases the curve’s radius.  Curved forces increase with velocity; meaning faster jumpers generally employ greater radii.  Shortening the radius creates tighter curves and may compromise proper running mechanics.  Have fun!








And if you have questions about how to set this up, post them below and I’ll help you get it worked out!

Follow me on Twitter (@reubenajones) and Instagram (@jump4jones) for questions, comments and other training insights.


Reuben Jones is the associate head track coach at Columbia University in New York, NY.

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  • john

    Individual high jump marks are to confusing. I need a full diagram of the area with all the individual measurements within that area. This would be more helpful rather than individual pictures with measurements. Thanks.