The long jump is one of my favorite track and field events. Not only is it one of the most entertaining, aside from the 100-meter dash, it is the easiest for a non-participant to relate to.
Real Life Applications
Long jumping may also be one of the most useful skills in track and field. Imagine you are visiting Hawaii on vacation and a crack in the Earth opens up between you and your coconut drink. It would be really useful to be able to jump over the fissure and save your drink. I think that happened to Carl Lewis once.
My Rockstar Jumpers
I was lucky to be a part of the track and field team at the University of Wisconsin. And I had some teammates who were really good at the long jump. Here is a list of the notable Badger long jump marks when I was in school.
- Sonya Jenson: 19 feet 11 inches
- Heather Hyland: 20 feet 5 inches
- Jeremy Fischer: 24 feet 8 inches
- Maxwell Seales: 25 feet 2 inches
- Reggie Torian: 26 feet 2 inches.
To fully appreciate how good these marks are simply go out in your yard and see how far you can long jump today.
There are 4 things to love about the long jump.
1. The crowd clap. The crowd watching a meet will often start clapping in unison to motive a jumper. The claps get faster and faster as they speed down the runway. I wish someone did this for me at work as I filled out my time sheets.
2. The run: It is fun watching a jumper accelerate towards the takeoff board. It’s kind of like the countdown for a rocket launch.
3. The jump itself: There is something primal and childlike about watching a human fly through the air self-propelled. It is pure fun. It reminds me of my adventures as a kid, jumping over creeks and jumping into piles of hay, hay, hay, like Fat Albert.
4. The landing (or what I would have called the sanding): What goes up must come down. Watching the jumper hit the ground again, usually in a spray of sand, is good dirty fun.
The Part Most People Overlook.
My favorite part of the long jump actually happens before any of that. It happens as a part of the competition day preparation that most people pay no attention to at all.
A long jumper doesn’t just show up at the track, walk onto the runway, and start jumping. Instead, they have to find their starting point. To do that they have to start at the end. They go to the takeoff board, and then work their way back from there to determine where they should actually begin their approach.
Finding The First Step
Some jumpers will stand on the takeoff board itself, with their back to the sandpit, and then run down the track, away from the takeoff point, counting their steps, to find their starting point.
Other jumpers use a tape measure. They set the end of the tape at the takeoff board and unreel it until they get to their preordained measurement. Then they mark that point on the runway as their starting point.
Know Where You Want To End
There is magic in that process that everyone can benefit from. Because the long jumper starts at the end of the run, the most critical point in the process, and then figures out, to the inch, where they need to start to hit that point perfectly. In long jumping, if you step past the board your jump is no good. And every millimeter you are short of the board doesn’t count towards your jump. (Notice how I mixed English and metric measurement systems? That because I am bi-numeric. Which is like being bi-lingual, but not with linguals).
My Entrepreneurial Leap
Before I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I did the same thing long jumpers do. I put myself at the launch, imagining in great detail what my flight would look like once I finally jumped. Then I determined all the of the steps I would need to take in order to launch myself properly.
I figured out how much time it would take me to create everything I needed to create. I put a mark down. Then I started running, accelerating towards the launch point the whole time.
All of my steps have been purposeful to get me the results I am after. It took me 8 months of planning from the time I decided to launch The Weaponry until I was open for business. 3 years later, The Weaponry is a multi-million dollar business and climbing rapidly. Just like I planned.
To achieve great things, start with the end in mind. Then work backwards from there. Because when you know your direction, your steps, and your takeoff point, you’ll go as far as you can possibly go. It’s all in the preparation. So put yourself in the best position to succeed. Start today by focusing on the end first. I’ll be clapping for you the whole way.
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