High Jump – Break it Down to Make it Simple

When it comes to teaching the disciplines of athletics, high jump can be a tricky one for kids to grasp. We find it is one activity where kids walk in either believing they ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ jump; there doesn’t seem to be many in between.  Our first step when teaching high jump is changing this mindset and turning it into a fun activity for all. We often begin by showing students the video above of a Kenyan High School high jump event.  It is a great video to set the scene for the rest of the lesson and has kids excited by the opportunity to have a go themselves.

With the high jump bar and mats already setup, we would then get all the kids active straight away. We would participate in warm up drills using the same run up lines they will need to be using to perform the high jump (on a curve and then parallel to the bar). Jogging, side stepping, hopping, skipping, etc.  We would also practice the correct run up technique.

High Jump Warm Up copy

We would also show the kids this next video so they can see what top level high jump looks like in action.  Our skill level isn’t perfect when it comes to high jump and it is always inspiring to show the kids what the skill looks like at the top level.  This video is from a World Junior Championship in 2012.

This leads into the next video which you can use to set up some drills that are suitable for your students. You can then demonstrate the drills yourself, or if you have access to a data projector in the gym display the video on the screen for all to see. When having students complete these drills, ensure the bar is at a suitable height for all.

Some key steps to remember when teaching high jump to your class:

  • Setup the high jump prior to the lesson (or have a planned approach ready to set it up quickly)
  • Keep the kids as active as possible (reduce waiting and transition time and have stations setup throughout the gym)
  • Highlight the safety of the activity – (e.g. fall on the mat and reassure them that it is safe to jump)
  • Ask students to split themselves into 3 groups – beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginner (this is their first time), Intermediate (they have had a few attempts), Advanced (they know what they’re doing).
  • Run stations/activities for each of the three groups and a mini tournament to declare the highest jumper for each category.
  • Rotate the kids required to hold the mat efficiently so everyone has a turn (e.g. after jumping students go to position one of holding, then two, three, four, before rejoining the line).
  • Have kids begin their run-up as soon as the previous jumper is clear off the mat (to improve transition time).
  • Provide an award for the most determined participant in each of the differentiated groups.

We’d love for you to share how you run your high jump lessons below, or comment on how you have used any of the info from this blog post.


Airlie & Heath

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