IN explaining my method of broad jumping, I think I can arrive at greater clearness by dividing the subject into several parts, and treating the reader as one entirely unacquainted with the sport.
In the first place, it is very necessary for the athlete to go to work systematically; otherwise it will be impossible to attain satisfactory results. He should, first of all, find out where his "marks" come. He can do this by starting at the farther end of the jumping-path, and running toward the take-off at the top of his speed. It will be only after repeated trials that his jumping-foot will strike the take-off exactly. Having succeeded in this, let him trace back his strides, and, at a convenient distance from the take-off, make his first or front mark. The number of strides should be determined by the athlete himself, who knows best how much ground he must cover before he gets up his great-est speed. I am in the habit of counting back nine strides, which is just fifty-nine feet from the takeoff. Suppose the athlete counts back this number. At the point where the ninth stride comes, let him make a mark along the running-path; then from this mark count back about a dozen more strides, and make a second mark. Now he has his two marks, and can feel reasonably sure that if he starts from the second, strikes the front mark squarely with his jumping-foot, and then runs nine strides at the top of his speed, he will hit his take-off exactly and make a good jump. Various conditions, however, may alter somewhat the position of this front mark. If the wind happens to be blowing noticeably in the athlete's face or on his back, it will have the effect, respectively, of shortening or of lengthening his stride, and the mark should be moved accordingly. Again, the fact that the running-path has just been rolled hard, or chances to be wet and heavy, should also cause the position of the mark to be altered. Neglect to attend to these seeming trifles may spoil the athlete's run, and prevent him from doing himself justice.
Next let us learn how to run up to the take-off properly. The athlete, having started with his right foot on the second mark, should run toward his front mark at such a rate of speed that he will neither fall short of striking it, nor go over it altogether. If he fails to strike his front mark fairly, it is better to go back and try again rather than to take his chances, especially as there is no penalty against it. Now, suppose he has reached his front mark all right, and is going at the top of his speed toward the take-off. As he is reasonably sure of hitting the latter fairly, he can run ahead confidently, but he must not allow the length of his nine strides to the take-off to vary in the least; otherwise he will not strike it properly. It is not difficult to keep the strides even, as the athlete has only to run naturally, with the body bent well forward, the arms swinging regularly, and his sole thought that of jumping strongly on reaching the take-off. If he steps over the takeoff even a few inches, his foot will sink into a hollow dug on the opposite side of the jumping-beam, and he will make what is called a foul, which counts as one of his trials. There is but little danger of spraining the ankle on a foul; that fear, therefore, should never be in mind, for it is liable to worry him out of his best performance. On the other hand, if the athlete fails to get up to the takeoff, he must lose just as much of his jump. This is because his jump is not the actual distance he covers, but the distance from the opposite side of the take-off to the place where he first breaks ground in the jumping-box. Bearing these points in mind, he will see the necessity of compelling himself to keep cool, and will use his strength with greatest effect.
Now as to the act of jumping itself. Before the very last stride, and while running at the top of his speed, let the athlete gather himself together for the effort. He should bend his legs under him, get down as low as his high speed permits, fix his eye on some high distant object (to secure elevation), concentrate his strength in his back and hips, and then throw himself into the air. All these things are done in a flash, naturally, and not mechanically. It is necessary, however, to omit none of them if the athlete wishes really to out-do himself. Now, just as he hits the take-off, let him snap his right leg (if that is his jumping-leg) up as high as he can, and then push it down on the take-off with all his power, at the same time jerking both arms up quickly. The snap and push will lend the athlete additional power, and the jerk-up of the arms give elevation, an essential to a long jump. Just after leaving the take-off, let him curl the legs under his body, bend the head forward, and hold the arms rigidly at the side with every muscle in the body perfectly taut, so that his own weight will not bring him down immediately. Then, as he feels himself about to land, he should have sufficient presence of mind to kick his legs forward, bend the head still further over, and alight in that position. These latter movements will add a few inches to the jump, and that is what he needs. It will be seen that the jump is over in a few seconds, and the athlete may at first fail to act on all these suggestions. Repeated trials, however, will impress them upon him, and in a little time he will find himself observing them, almost without thinking.
It is well that the athlete should acquaint himself with the act of landing; that is, lighting in the jumping-box. The method I use is to land with my feet together; thereby obviating all danger of losing my balance, falling back, and spoiling my jump. The athlete should also steady himself for a moment after landing, and get out of the dirt feet first, breaking the layer of dirt no more than is absolutely necessary. A little care may mean several inches to the jump. Finally, it is also well for the athlete to see to it that the measurements are correct.
In conclusion, perhaps it is not out of place to make a few general remarks as to the broad jump. The athlete should remember never to jump without first limbering himself by a brisk dash, for he runs the liability of snapping a cord, and forever ruining himself for competition. He should not jump his best on the first trial unless he has been allowed several preliminary jumps. Hut on the second trial let him go in to win; and, if he gets a place in the finals, strive to improve on every effort. If possible, the athlete should keep his head, even under the most trying circumstances; because the moment he becomes rattled his skill departs, and actual strength counts for little. Half a dozen jumps twice a week should be sufficient to keep a man in form; and a complete rest of three or four days before a competition (provided the period of training has been rather long) is oftentimes the best thing that can be done. It is a good plan also for the athlete sometimes to do "staying-up" work, running, say, a brisk quarter of a mile once a week. On days when he is not jumping, the training need only consist in running short dashes in order to get up speed. As to diet, it need not be so heroic with the jumpers as with athletes whose work depends more on real power and less on nervous strength; if he keeps his stomach in good condition, and does not partake too freely of liquids, he should be able to jump without exhaustion and in good form.
Such is the method which I have followed, and such are the various observations that experience in competition for several years enables me to make. I can see no reason why others, with fairly strong natural ability and aptitude for jumping, should not be fully as successful as I have been, or perhaps beat the record that I have been able to make.
BY E. B. BLOSS, Intercollegiate Champion of 1892-93.