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What is a Penultimate Step in the High Jump?


The last three steps of the approach are the most important part of the approach because it converts the jumper’s horizontal energy into a vertical jump. One of these steps is called the penultimate step. The word penultimate literally means “second to last” so this is the second to last step of the approach.


In this video, watch the athlete’s second to the last step before takeoff. This step is so important because it lowers the athlete’s center of gravity which allows them to get off the ground on the next step, which is the plant. The penultimate step looks like a flat step that is slightly quicker and shorter than the rest of the strides in the approach. The penultimate step looks the same in all jumps. Basketball players, long jumpers, and high jumpers all use the penultimate step. Without a penultimate step, an athlete will not be able to convert their horizontal energy into a vertical jump which is obviously problematic in the high jump.


To practice the Penultimate step, try out these two drills.


The first is basketball rim or backboard touches, see the link on the screen. In order to jump vertically, the penultimate step must be done. Jumpers tend to automatically do the penultimate step when they step on the basketball court and reach for the rim.


The second drill is specifically for the high jump penultimate step. See the link to it on the screen. In this drill, athletes will feel their penultimate step because they physically step off a box and then quickly explode into their last step the plant. This drill helps an athlete develop muscle memory and allows them to feel what a good penultimate step should feel like.


If you are interested in educating yourself in the high jump check out the High Jump 101 E-Course. A link is below in the description. You can try out the introduction to the E-Course for free by clicking on the video on your screen. For more free resources subscribe to our YouTube channel or visit our website, Facebook page, or Instagram.

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