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WonderPup: "There were some questions about the triple jump--namely, questions such as "just what the heck is this thing anyway?" So, here ensues more than you would ever want to know about the triple jump.

The Skill:
Each of the jumping events tests a different core skill. The triple looks most like the long jump, but they reward fundamentally different skill sets. The long jump is a pure speed event. There is certainly form to follow in the approach, takeoff, and flight. But raw speed is the fundamental skill that counts most. (This is why jumpers with poor form can still occasionally bust out a phenominal jump, a la Marion Jones. She's got pretty bad long jump form and has several form flaws, but her raw speed helps close the gap.) As a result, you see a lot of crossover between the 100m dash and the long jump.

The triple, on the other hand, rewards raw power. Speed helps, but the shock on the legs of doing the first two jumps while keeping your body in the proper position requires a great deal of raw strength. Form is also critical. A form break early in the first jump cascades through the rest of the sequence and affects the second and third jumps. Small errors get magnified greatly in this event. There is rarely any crossover between the triple and other events at the elite level of competition due to the specialized nature of the event."

Excellent post, but a few quibbles. IIRC, the old Easten bloc countries had jumpers who did both long and triple but did not compete in the sprints, even at the Olympic level. Also, IIRC, jumpers who compete well at in both the lon and the triple are not uncommon at the NCAA Division I level.

"The technique:
There's an old bit of coaching advice that notes that a good triple jump is heard more than it is seen. The best jumpers have a certain rhythm to them, and each of the 3 phases should be roughly even, both in air time and subsequently, in distance."

When I studied this more closely, the result was more like 35%/30%/35%, with the step almost always being the shortest part of the routine. Hop has the full benefit of approach (speed) and the jump has the benefit of landing in the sand with no need to jump again. The step is made is with less forward momentum that the hop and the landing must be in balance in order to make the jump.

"The arms are a typically forgotten in the whole process, particularly for the novice. There's so much mental effort in learning how to stay legal with your feet that the arms are an after thought. But they're really key--they provide power in each phase as you swing them through, they provide balance and aid in body positioning, and they control the lateral torso twist (or, hopefully, lack thereof)."

How true.

"Summary: I did the event for 6 of the 8 years I ran track. I loved the event, and eventually specialized in it, slowly dropping my other events. At the high school and NCAA Division III level, there weren't too many people who specialized in the event, so I tended to have an advantage over jumpers with more natural talent due to being a student of the event. I wasn't the fastest, nor the strongest, but I knew what I was doing out there and my form was as good or better than nearly everyone else competing at that level."

I tripled for only three years in College, and the first two were spent with a good "jumping" coach. The improvement made my last year after exposure to a coach who specialized in the jumps was amazing, and always left me wondering what I could have done with better coaching from the beginning.

"It really is an event where hard work and study can make up for lack of raw natural ability. Perfect for a big slow guy like me who was fast at top speed, but too slow out of the blocks to be a top sprinter, and not flexible enough to be a top hurdler."

My metric for measuring technique was to divide someone's triple jump by their long jump (and at the Div. III level almost all jumpers did both). As WP states, raw speed can compensate for alot in the LJ, but TJ depends alot more on good techique.

My ratio was roughly 2.25. I was competitive in the TJ with many jumpers who easily outgunned me in the LJ because their ratio was more like 2.0 (surprisng the sht out of a bucnh of them).

Regards, JAFO

PS - And when I really nailed a good TJ, it felt like I was flying/floating light as a butterfly.

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