By Nick Bowden, Aussie Aths Director of Coaching
We often hear about kids of today not having time for free-play and therefore missing key steps in the learning and consolidation of fundamental movement skills, in contrast to earlier generations. While this may be true for some, it also presents an opportunity to learn and practice in an environment where expert coaches can introduce and guide the development of these skills and confidence grows from the realisation that improvement is being recognised and acknowledged.
Jumping for height is a skill required for most land-based sports – think of a soccer goalie going for a save, or a striker, going for a header; a basketballer doing a layup or, in our dreams, a dunk! What about an Aussie Rules footballer taking a speckie or going for a spoil? Then contrast that with the high jumper aiming to clear the bar. Same forces and movements required.
What do we do?
When it comes to jumping in the Aussie Aths program, take-off and landing are essential elements. Along with preparation and flight, these make up the four components of all jumps. Acquiring skills that enable kids to go ‘up’ or ‘up & out’ allows them to practice pushing into the ground and using arm swing to gather momentum to leave this earth – albeit temporarily – then return safely.
Our focus is on providing lots of opportunities for:
- A coordinated, whole-body movement – from the toes, to the fingertips
- Learning to ‘push’ into the ground – from both legs simultaneously, then each, in turn
- A safe, controlled landing
- Gradually adding, then extending the run-up to increase momentum, speed and the potential for greater height in the jump.
Starting with flat sticks on the ground, along with mini or adjustable hurdles of various heights, then introducing a cross-bar between two uprights for the high jump ‘scissor’ action, creates a variety of experiences for the jumpers and challenges them to seek improvement, while having the confidence to apply this learning on playgrounds, ovals, courts, pitches and fields.