J Approach: “J” doesn’t always mean jump….

The J Approach Uses A “J” Shape.

The high jump approach accumulates energy in order to move momentum upward. Additionally, the shape of the approach is important because physics say the shape contributes to lift. The shape of the approach is called the J approach because it looks like a “J”.

In fact, “J” doesn’t mean jump, it stands for the shape of the high jump approach. Furthermore, the “J” – shaped run-up is critical to the success of the jump.

Here is a high jump approach diagram showing the “J” shaped approach from both sides of the landing pit.

J Approach
“J” Approach from Both Sides

The approach mimics a real “J” and stops before flattening out at the bottom. Unfortunately, many jumpers run until the end of the “J” and end up too parallel to the bar at takeoff.  The takeoff step should point anywhere between the back corner and the standard; it should not be parallel or past parallel at takeoff!

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The purpose of the J approach is to gather correct momentum, run the curve while leaning away from the bar, and jump while leaning and allowing the torque of the curve to twist you in the air so you can clear the bar back-first AND allow the leaning takeoff to produce the backward somersault.

Embed from Getty Images

If executed correctly, the jumper only has to think about jumping straight up and the physics of the approach will do the rest.

Approach Running Facts.

  • The more a jumper leans around the last part of the curve, the more rotation they have in the backward somersault
  • A jumpers feet will land one-in-front-of-the-other (crossover steps) when running the curve, not side-by-side
  • Approach speed starts in the straightaway and is maintained through the curve
  • The preliminary movements like hops, skips, and jogging happen before the straightaway is actually started
  • If a jumper isn’t leaning at takeoff then the curve of the approach flattened out at some point or is too wide
  • The penultimate foot plant can miss the curve slightly but only if lean is maintained
  • The jumper feels like they are running on the edge of their feet when running the curve




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High Jump Video Analysis


…..and email me your high jump video to highjumplife84@yahoo.com. I will provide the following analysis information:

  1. High jump approach analysis
  2. Running form analysis
  3. Penultimate step analysis
  4. J Approach analysis
  5. Takeoff analysis
  6. Flight analysis
  7. Top three opportunities for improvement
  8. Top three strengths
  9. High jump drill recommendations for you to eliminate your opportunities

Here’s a sample of what you’ll get:

High Jump Life Takeoff Analysis Illustration
Takeoff Analysis from High Jump Life


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