High jump: Technique is key


Drew Pedersen

Sr. Anthony Charameda lines up to jump almost 25 feet away from the bar. He begins to start a slow jog, taking five steps forward, toward the left side of the 6’5” bar. Then he curves to run parallel to the bar. Charameda takes seven steps before he finally jumps off of his right foot. Once in the air and head above the bar, Charameda starts to bend his back so that his body is just above. After his back is bent and over the bar, Charameda ducks his chin to help flip his legs up and over. To finish, Charameda braces himself as he hits the pad. After landing, Charameda receives applause at the West Ottawa football stadium where the track and field meet is held.

  High jump, two simple words but a far from simple event. One might think that high jump is just a matter of who can jump the highest. Although true to an extent, high jump does not directly correlate with how high a jumper can jump. To be a talented high jumper, one needs much more than just the ability to jump high. Technique is essential in high jump. From the right approach to bending over the bar, high jump is much more than just jumping.

Jr. Jon Hofmeyer and Charameda are two prime examples of how important good technique can be. Below are the characteristics for each jumper that one would think would affect their jumping ability:


Anthony Charameda Jon Hofmeyer

5’11 6’2

Shorter legs Longer legs

Dunking ability: relatively easy Dunking ability: relatively easy

High jump experience: second year High jump experience: first year


  In the characteristics above, Hofmeyer and Charameda can reach relatively the same height off a running start, however, Hofmeyer is taller, has longer legs, and has an advantage in most of the areas that would make someone jump higher. From looking at each jumper’s characteristics, one would think Hofmeyer would be able to jump over a higher bar. Interestingly though, Charameda can jump over 6’5” whereas Hofmeyer can only jump over a 5’10”. In high jump, although the natural ability to jump high is important, the ability to jump high does not directly correlate with the maximum height someone can jump over the bar. Technique is equally important as natural jumping ability. Charameda, only in his second year of track, has perfected his technique. Now fifth in the state, Charameda uses his high jump technique to get a few extra inches on each jump.

  Hofmeyer has a different situation. Hofmeyer is also a naturally gifted jumper; however, Hofmeyer is only in his first year of track and has not yet perfected the high jump technique. “It is a lot harder than you would think. It looks easy but it is actually hard once you try it. It is like you’re more worried about getting the right technique on each jump rather than trying to jump as high as you can,” Hofmeyer said.

  Charameda is a very talented jumper for his height. Charameda can get his entire body completely over 6’5; six inches higher than his own height. To put that into perspective, Hofmeyer, 6’1, can jump over 5’10.

  The high jump technique requires a complicated set of steps; however, Charameda has perfected the technique and has given a detailed explanation of the proper technique: “You take five steps straight forward, perpendicular to the bar, at a jogging speed and then you start running in a curve towards the mat, usually for five steps, but I usually do seven. If approaching from the left side, which I do, you want your last step to be to the left of the middle of the bar so that you can cross over the top of the of the bar at the middle (where it sags the lowest). You want to start your run-up at a decent pace and accelerate to a good pace and the maintain that speed through the curve and then explode on the jump. In the air, you want to bend your back and get your hips up while you are in the air. After you get your hips over the bar, you want to duck your chin so that your legs kick up and do not hit the bar.”

 The high jump technique is not an easy skill, but once mastered has proven to help achieve great success. Charameda has already jumped five inches higher than last year due to improving his technique. Technique has proven to be an essential part of a high jumper. Two jumpers, Charameda and Hofmeyer, who have the ability to reach the relatively same height off a running start, have vastly different high jump capabilities. With Charameda jumping over 6’5 with an almost perfect technique and Hofmeyer jumping over 5’10 with an average technique, technique plays a substantial role in high jumping.