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High Jump Technique: Great “Wheels” Keep On Turning

High Jump Technique: Imagine Peddling A Bicycle

“Great ‘wheels’ keep on turning” is an acronym for the correct running style and high jump technique.

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Great “wheels” means to run with high knees and to also bring the foot near the butt when following through with the stride; it’s a bit like peddling a bicycle. The shin should be parallel with the ground when pulling the leg through. Do NOT drag the feet! This running motion should carry through consistently to takeoff. Watch Stefan Holm’s leg rotation in this historic 2.40-meter jump!

Scientific Explanation

A more scientific explanation is provided by Leite W., Secretariat of Education of the State of Ceará – SEDUC.

On the straight part, the athlete runs with metatarsal support, leaving the ground with the heel in a high position. It always seek a full extension and reaches up until 180º to the knee and the ankle to return with a circular movement in which the heel near the buttocks. From here, the leg surpasses the hip dislocating the knee to the front and slightly raised, later, we extend it progressively turning to the ground in the front side and in the back side seeking the traction” (https://www.sportpedagogy.org.ua/html/journal/2013-02/pdf-en/13lewrhj.pdf).

At takeoff, think about the weight distribution of a leg and what position it’s in. For example, “a 150lb human being on average has a 26lb leg” (https://www.quora.com/If-a-person-weighs-150-pounds-how-much-should-their-arm-weigh).

Why Important

With great “wheels”, that 26lb leg is high in relation to the body and easier to drive upwards during the block. This movement is sometimes called “running off the ground”. On the other hand, if a jumper drags the leg and carries it low, he or she must pull the extra 26lb off the ground, hence, losing upward momentum energy. It’s a bit like jumping with a weight strapped to your knee but you don’t realize it.

Great “wheels” are needed when running the approach. It helps the jumper run tall and also allows the jumper to reach correct block angles along with an easier transfer of weight – upward.

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