One of the simplest track and field activities anyone can try is long jumping. From a layman’s point of view, long jumping is about sprinting as fast as you can and jumping into a sand dune to record the longest jump possible. But if you want to know how far you’ve jumped, you have to do it in a long jump pit.
Per IAAF standards, a long jump pit should measure at least 2.75 meters (9.02 feet) wide and 7 to 9 meters (22.97 to 29.53 feet) long.
But that’s not all you need to know about the construction of a long jump pit. In this guide, I’ll cover the measurements of a long jump pit, the five main parts of long jumping, and how to perform a long jump.
History of Long Jumping
Like many track and field events, the history of long jumping can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. However, they did things a bit differently from how it’s done today. Athletes back then would carry weights that would propel them forward as they jumped. Today, athletes don’t carry weights to boost momentum during their jumps. Instead, they perform 3 quick steps before propelling their bodies forward using nothing but limbs.
Ancient records show that the athlete who jumped the farthest in the sport’s 2,600-year history prior to the Olympics covered 7 meters (22.97 feet). However, back then, there was no standardized testing for performance-enhancing drugs or wind speed.
Ever since the first Olympic Games in 1986, long jumping has been a regular part of the track and field schedule. In 1932, the IAAF, which is known as World Athletics, standardized the long jump event to include the exact dimensions of the pit, as well as the track leading up to the pit.
In 1948, the Olympics Committee in London finally established a category for female long jumpers, and the gold medal was taken home by the Hungarian Olympian Olga Gyarmati.
The farthest long jumpers are Mike Powell, who covered 8.95 meters (29.36 feet) in the men’s category and Galina Chistyakova who covered 7.52 meters (24.67 feet) in 1991 and 1988, respectively. At the rate things are going, it will only be a matter of time before the World Athletics needs to revise the size standards for long jump pits.
Dimensions of a Long Jump Pit
According to the IAAF standards (PDF), the long jump requires 3 components—the runway, the take-off board, and the long jump pit, a.k.a. the landing area.
- The long jump pit should measure 7 to 9 meters (22.97 to 29.53 feet) long and have a minimum width of 2.75 meters (9.02 feet).
- The runway, or the path leading up to the long jump pit, should measure 1.22 meters (4 feet) wide and at least 40 meters (131.23 feet) long from the start of the runway to the start of the take-off board.
- The take-off board should measure around 1.22 meters (4 feet) wide, 0.2 meters (0.66 feet) long, and 0.1 meters (0.33 feet) tall. It should also be planted flush with the surface of the runway. The distance between the take-off board and the start of the long jump pit should measure at least 2 meters (6.56 feet).
- The borders surrounding the runway and long jump pit should measure 0.05 meters (0.16 feet) wide. When using dashed lines as borders, the dashes should be spaced 0.05 meters apart.
Technical Specifications of a Long Jump Pit
- The long jump pit must be filled with sand with a depth of at least 0.3 meters (0.98 feet) deep at the edges. The center of the sand pit will be slightly deeper.
- The top of the long jump pit’s borders should be level with the take-off board.
- The sand used to fill a long jump pit should consist of either wasted river sand or pure quartz sand.
- The individual sand grains cannot measure more than 2 millimeters (0.08 inches) in diameter. If sand granules measure 0.2 millimeters (0.008 inches), they cannot take up more than 5% of the total volume of sand.
- The tops of the take-off board and the long jump pit’s borders should be made of a flexible material with rounded edges to prevent injuries.
- The take-off board should be height-adjustable in order to prevent tripping the athlete.
- Long throw and other jumping events should not be held simultaneously with long jumping.
How Does the Long Jump Differ from the Triple Jump?
The main difference between long jumps and triple jumps is that in triple jumps, the athletes must perform a hop and a step before taking the final jump into the landing area. The first of the series of jumps is taken on the take-off board, and the distance of the final jump is recorded from the start of the landing area to the closest indentation in the sand.
The same facilities for the long jump are used in triple jump events. However, the location of the take-off board is moved back to 13 meters (42.65 feet) for men and 11 meters (36.09 feet) for women.
Basics of Doing the Long Jump
Like other track and field sports, knowing how to nail the long jump requires mastering the right techniques. Those techniques are broken into four distinct components—the approach run, the strides, the take-off, and the landing.
Approach Run—Since the runway is only 40 meters long, you should sprint at maximum speed to give yourself the biggest forward-propelling boost possible.
Strides—Jumpers should pay close attention to the final two steps before reaching the take-off board. The second-to-last stride should be as longer than the final stride to help the athlete raise their center of gravity prior to taking off.
Take-off—The propelling foot should be flat on the ground. Jumping with your heel slows you down for a fraction before going airborne, while jumping with the balls of your feet reduces stability. While you’re airborne, keep your body upright and move your hips forward.
Landing—Make sure your body falls forward. The final measurement is taken from the start of the pit to the nearest indentation in the sand, even if your feet made first contact in the landing pit.
Easy as pie, right?