Dwight Phillips, 2004 Olympic Long Jump Gold Medalist and three time World Outdoor Champion, reviews the basics and techniques of the long jump. One of the most daunting challenges for a long jumper is to get into proper take-off position, transitioning from the run to the take-off. Jumpers either tend to “settle” down on the board, driving down; or they tend to come in too high and “crow hop” off the board. The penultimate step (the last step before take-off) is key here. Phillips has some unique ideas in terms of how to deal with this. The most important aspect of the penultimate step is set your body up for a successful jump.
Phillips suggests keeping the shoulders tall, the hips tall and the body centered over your center of gravity. The lowering of the hips is not a conscious move, but the result of a longer step into the penultimate step. Phillips runs flat-footed the entire approach, so that there is no sudden shift of body position or “sinking” of the hips on the ultimate step. Regarding “looking at the board”, Phillips mentions that while many coaches drill athletes not to do this, it is in fact a natural result of the body steering itself down the runway and adjusting. Rather than teaching athletes to do what is unnatural (“Don’t look at the board!”) Phillips suggests that athletes should use their peripheral vision to be aware of where the board is.