Crossover Step

High Jump Crossover Step – the most important step

The Crossover Step Is The Most Important High Jump Approach Step

Most focus on the penultimate and ultimate steps around the curve but I say the High Jump Crossover Step is the most important step of the “J” approach.

Actually, the Crossover Step is the third-from-last step. Specifically, it is the 8th step in a 10-step approach. It is the step BEFORE the penultimate step.

Crossover Step

It’s Hard To Execute

It’s hard to execute because a jumper must move the outside leg across the body into a steeper turn, angle, and lean. This means that a jumper who just landed the inside leg/foot plant at 75 degrees to the crossbar must now move the outside leg all the way across the body to land the outside leg/foot plant angle at around 56-degrees.

Last Three Steps -  Crossover Step

Above all, a difficult venture at full approach running speed.

Embed from Getty Images

Furthermore, the high jump crossover step moves significantly more horizontally in order to support the foot-plant angle and to steepen the curve for lean.

Change of Direction -  Crossover Step

Imagine that, running a full-speed approach relatively straight, then suddenly taking your outside leg horizontally across your body to a far inside plant.

In contrast, most beginning jumpers just blow the step and run a straight line.


When executed correctly, it puts the jumpers’ body into a preparatory position to perform the penultimate and ultimate steps.

The ultimate step needs the penultimate step to be aligned correctly. Additionally, the penultimate step needs about a 56-degree foot plant angle with heavy sideways lean. Without the significant horizontal movement from the high jump crossover step, the penultimate step foot/plant angle and lean can’t be achieved.

Foot Plant Angles -  Crossover Step
The Last Three Steps

One lean leads to another and we all know how vital sideways and backwards lean is at the beginning of ultimate plant!

High Jump Takeoff -  Crossover Step
photo courtesy of

How To Execute The High Jump Crossover Step

The curve starts in step 5 of the “J” approach. However, steps 5, 6, and 7 should be just a little curve or drift. This means the foot/plant angles increase slightly but just a few degrees. They are a drift from the straightaway.

Drift Zone -  Crossover Step

The steepening spiral starts when the foot/plant angle increases 10-degrees to hit the crossover step, 19-degrees to hit the penultimate, and 30-degrees to hit the ultimate step.

Spiral -  Crossover Step

The dramatic change needs a lead-in. Like the penultimate needs a preparatory body position from the crossover step, the crossover step needs a preparatory position from its previous step or steps.

This preparatory position comes from the upper body. In other words, the shoulders should turn and face the far high jump standard on steps 6 and 7, NOT the lower body!

Chicherova Shoulder Turn -  Crossover Step

The shoulders and hips separate if you will. Shoulders face one way and the hips face another way.

When the two angles happen correctly, the rest of the body falls into the correct horizontal change of direction easier. The hips will fall in-line with the shoulders and progressively heavy sideways lean happens.

Problems When It Falters

Jumpers run a flat curve for the last three steps if the crossover step doesn’t change direction as needed. That means the foot/plant angle changes don’t move much and the jumper is more upright at ultimate step. That means poor sideways lean and poor rotation over bar.

Embed from Getty Images

Some jumpers also change foot/plant direction dramatically at the crossover step leaving little room for more foot/plant angle changes later. In this example, jumpers lean heavily on the crossover step but come out of the lean on the last two steps. Again, poor rotation over the bar.

Embed from Getty Images


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  1. High jump approach analysis
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