High Jump

The High Jump comprises three main elements: the approach; the takeoff and the bar rotation. A good approach to high jump coaching is to look at and work on these three elements individually.


Here we explain in more detail the technical aspects of a Fosbury flop high jump technique. Beneath this are drill progressions for both the scissor and Fosbury flop techniques.

High jump technique – The approach:

  • 3 important factors of the approach are acceleration, maximum velocity, and curve running. 
  • There are 3 different approaches that athletes use today. The J approach flared approach, and hook approach.
  • All 3 approaches have the same curve in the jump. The only difference between them is the initial starting position. The J approach involves the athlete running in a straight line before curving their run into the jump. An athlete using the flared approach will start from a position wider than that of the J approach, and the opposite occurs with the hook approach. The starting point is inside that of the J approach.

  • Athletes run on a curve to lean away from the bar by creating pressure against the ground.
  • Most athletes use between 6 and 12 steps on the approach, usually an even number so the first step is taken with the non-jumping foot.
  • The radius of the curved run is specific to individual athletes, and this can only be found through trial and error. However the average for women is around 31-32 feet (9.5-10 metres), and for men, it is 27-28 feet (8.3-8.6 metres), so these are good starting points for your long jump.
  • The athlete must approach the bar from the correct angle in the last 2 steps. Again this is somewhat athlete-specific but 50 degrees for the penultimate step and 40 degrees for the final step are good guidelines.
  • The last 2 steps of the approach are the most important. The penultimate step must land flat, and on the imaginary curve line, with the hips and torso moving over this foot as quickly as possible.
  • The last step should also be flat-footed and purposely planted in a dorsiflexed position.

High jump technique – Takeoff:

  • The aim of high jump coaching here is the conversion of vertical velocity must be made from the horizontal velocity of the approach if a long-jump is going to be successful.
  • A short takeoff time is also important otherwise the athlete will more than likely land on top of the bar.
  • The takeoff action is also known as a push-through-and-pull action.
  • The push-through is the hip moving over the penultimate foot.
  • The pull is the hip of the free leg coming through because of the active negative motion of the takeoff leg.
  • On takeoff, the foot should be pointing roughly towards the far corner of the landing area.
  • All athletes are different when it comes to the position of the takeoff foot. Generally, this foot should be planted around 2-3 feet down the bar from the post or standard.
  • Distances in front of the bar also vary greatly from athlete to athlete. However, the average for women is around 26 inches or 65cm. For men, it is further, around 48 inches or 123cm. Use trial and error to work out the best position.

High jump technique – Bar rotation:

  • The Fosbury flop is the most common way to clear the bar.
  • This ends with the athlete landing on their upper back.
  • To get to this position the athlete must rotate around their vertical axis so their back is facing the bar as they clear it.
  • To clear the bar an athlete will need to arch and then un-arch the body.
  • The arching occurs to lift the hips above the bar, and the un-arching drops the hips, which lifts the legs in a natural reaction. The un-arching should occur as the upper legs go over the bar.

Technique Progressions

This video takes us through the progressions of how to teach or learn high jump-starting with a basic scissor technique. This is progressed so the jumper lands on their back.

This high jump drill draws on a technique that students will have learned in their early years.


Lower the bar and use a scissor action to jump over it, making sure that they land on their free foot.

Progression 1:

Encourage the student to then land on their bottom, making sure that they create a right angle from their back to their legs.

Progression 2:

Once progression 1 has been mastered get the student used to landing on their backs. Make sure that they keep their backs parallel to the bar.

The Fosbury Flop was created by the American High Jumper Dick Fosbury who won a Gold Medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics and brought it to the world’s attention. Here we outline the basic progressions a beginner would go through to learn the technique.

The Fosbury Flop requires the person jumping to cross the bar and land on their shoulders perpendicular to the bar.


This high jump drill aims to encourage the student to turn their head toward the shoulder which is furthest from the bar. This is not a natural movement so you can make it a gradual process by asking the student to turn little by little. The effect that this has is that they will start to cross the bar at a perpendicular angle to the bar rather than at a right angle.

The turning effect is also assisted by the “hockey stick” or “j-shaped” run-up which consists of the student running in a straight line towards the bar, with the last 3 or 4 strides curving around. This helps with the rotation.

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