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More than a leap of faith - the technique of long jump

by Alyssa Daley-EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Tue, Feb 21st 2017 11:00 pm
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communications via Flickr

 Picture this: you are a long jumper, at the start of a long runway, preparing to begin the sprint that will propel you through the air and into the sand pit. You've practiced it a thousand times but this is a meet, which means that in order to help your team you have to jump a distance that will get you in the top three in order to get points for your team.

You take a deep breath ... rock back on your heels. Once, twice, three times and then you're off, pushing your legs and pumping your arms as fast as they can go until you reach your tape mark on the runway. You launch with your plant foot, through the air you extend your legs out straight so you can cover the most distance possible. Then, you hit the sand. You stand up, careful not to make a mark behind your footprints and dust yourself off.

This experience is what some Golden Eagles go through whenever there is a track and field meet.

Like other track and field events, the long jump has been around for centuries.

The running long jump which is still practiced today was an event in the 708BCE Olympic Games and has been an event in the modern games since 1896, according to Britannica.com.

For Golden Eagles, like seniors Marquise Riddick and Alex Kober, jumping has become more than a sport, it's a passion.

"Competing in the long jump at the collegiate level has allowed me to meet people I wouldn't have otherwise met, and it has given me many experiences I would have never had," Kober wrote in an email.

Coach Justin McQuality has been coaching The College at Brockport athletes who compete in the long jump since he joined the track and field coaching staff in the summer of 2015.

According to many of his athletes, McQuality is one of the reasons the Golden Eagles are doing so well in all of their events.

"My current coach, Coach McQuality, has the biggest influence on my long jumping career," Riddick wrote. "The coaching and knowledge he has given me really has developed me into the long jumper I am striving to become. Long jumping has always been fun to me but over the past year I really developed a passion for it."

The passion Riddick described doesn't come without a great deal of devotion and hard work. For this Golden Eagle, long jumping has given him the mindset that pushing through the pain and sweat in the moment can lead to accomplishing almost any goal in the end.

"It takes commitment to stay in the process and do all things that you need to do to make yourself a better long jumper," Riddick wrote. "Hard work comes into play because like for anything putting the time and energy into working on something to become proficient or even achieve mastery is very important. These things apply to being committed and hardworking in practice, the weight room and in real life."

This season the athletes' real-life goals are high. For many their goals include shooting to be recognized as a top jumper in the conference and to compete at the national level.

For people who may not know a great deal about the event, long jumping might not seem that complicated and these goals might not seem that difficult.

However, emphasis on specific technique, speed and strength are crucial in doing well. There is far more that goes into long jumping than running and jumping.

According to Riddick there are three things everyone should know about the event before passing any sort of judgment: it's not as simple as it looks; the long jump is as exciting to watch as it is to compete in and always look both ways before crossing the runway.

"For people who may not know a lot about this event what are three things you think they should know," Riddick wrote. "One, long jump may seem really simple but it isn't. There is so much technical work that comes into play with long jump. It's the small things that people don't see that can make or break a good jump. Secondly, long jump is really an exciting event to watch because it can be very competitive and the actual look of long jump is pretty cool. Lastly, I think people should know that when crossing the runway, you should look both ways because someone could be getting ready to jump. It is really frustrating when people nonchalantly walk across the runway as soon as someone is about to start their approach."

As Riddick said there are certain aspects to the long jump that aren't often acknowledged but have made all the difference to the athletes trying to succeed in the event. Some of the strategies the athletes agreed on were that technique is more than important, consistency is everything and patience with yourself and others is key.

"Unique" is one word to describe this sport and the Golden Eagles who have decided to dedicate the time to excel and succeed in an event that takes more than may meet the eye.


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