Dwight Phillips On The Most Common Mistakes In The Long Jump

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Dwight Phillips is a five-time world champion in the long jump and a 2004 Olympic gold medalist. He holds a personal best in the long jump of 28 feet, 8 and one-quarter inches, which ties as the seventh best jumper all time. The below is a transcription from an interview FoTrack conducted with Phillips in 2012.

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"There are a few common mistakes that are often made in the long jump from my perspective, which I see from the high school students all the way up to the professional athletes." 

The Two Most Common Mistakes 

"1. The approach --- Most athletes, they try to run as fast as they can throughout the whole run; that is incorrect. Obviously, you want to be fast at the board, but it's all about creating a gradual acceleration so that you can run all the way through the board and not to the board. That's one of the most common mistakes that [is] made. It's all about creating that gradual acceleration. I want to stress that because that is probably the most mistaken thing that is done in the long jump."

So you want to have the highest acceleration when you're hitting that board? 

"Yes, you want to take that acceleration and that momentum that you have in the long jump, not through the board; you don't want to stop at the board. You want to take it all the way through to your landing. I think when you think of it in that light you are less likely to lose momentum on your approach."

So if you're spent by the time you hit the board, you have nothing left? 

"You have nothing left to catapult you forward. The objective of the long jump is how far you go; it's not necessarily about how high you go.

"2. Distance over height.--- Most athletes want to try to make the long jump the high jump. It's not the high jump; it's the long jump -- it's about how far you go. Obviously, the vertical aspect helps in regards to your landing, but it's all about how far you go. It's pretty simple, it's medieval, it's pretty easy."

Proper Body Control in the Air

"I try to touch my toes and sometimes in the laying position I drive my hands past my body, so a lot of times I'll be like this (bending in half at the wast while he's sitting on the ground). By driving your arms to the side it allows you to have body control and awareness in the air, because it's all about awareness. If your legs are behind you, you can in the air...your body will automatically fight against gravity to try to put yourself in the right position. You're not going to be in a perfect position if you start off [with your legs] behind you, but you can get your legs in front of you by driving those arms down; it kind of helps you catch up on that curve that you're behind on."

Getting Everything In Front of You

"The next drill that I'm about to do is the V-up. The V-up is essential as well, because in the landing you have to be able to like what I mentioned early to be able to get everything in front of you. This just strengthens your lower extremities so that when you have to call on these lower extremities for your landing they'll be trained to get up. So I do a lot of V-up; I normally do three sets of 50. Sometimes I'll some it with a weight vest. The main thing I'm focusing on is making my body create a V shape at the apex of the exercise. It's all about driving your body all the way back so that you can  elongate the abs, and then you're driving it upwards toward a V. You're shortening it then; over time your body builds endurance and you're able to do it easy. 

"I do this prior to running. I'll do it prior to running so that now my body is training through intensively working out my lower extremities. So as a result it makes you stronger over a period of time."

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