You have a foul foot!

Recently I heard from a coach who’s athlete has a tendancy to foul often.  He has tried to move her back a foot at a time but she still winds up fouling at the board.  In desparation he contacted “Mr. Triple Jump”.  I have had a lot of experience with this type of problem in the past and have tried many things.  It wasn’t until I was jumping in a World Master’s Championship in Spain that I realized the problem.  It is the problem of foot – eye coordination.

There are many culprits to the problem of fouling.  The most obvious is that the athlete has a depth perception problem.  She or he does not know how far the board actually is in relation to their body so the athlete has a tendency to reach for the board, resulting in a foot foul of about one to 6 inchs (2.5cm to 15cm).  A simple test for this problem is to have your athlete stand on the board with their toes on the edge of the board.  Have the athlete take a step backwards and stand at that spot with both feet lined up together.  Have the athlete look at the board to gauge the distance.  Have the athlete then look straight ahead at the end of the pit and take a step onto the board.  Typically, an athlete with a perception problem will step beyond the board.

If depth perception is not the problem then perhaps the problem is in the running.  Often, after injury, an athlete changes their stride pattern but keeps the same reaction at the board.  That will through the athlete off considerably.  The fix to this problem is to practice changing the timing of the foot strike on the board.  Encourage the athlete to practice putting the foot down sooner.  Also, you can try to have the athlete focus on the penultimate foot strike by placing a piece of tape  on the runway one stride away from the board and have the athlete step on the tape before jumping off the board.  This is a great drill for establishing an active penultimate stride also.

There are several other drills that can help this problem but I will save them for another blog.  I hope this helps!


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