Will Claye's Triple Jump Tips

Will Claye competes at the 2012 Olympics

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At age 21 Will Claye already owned three major international triple jump medals—a gold from the 2012 World Indoor Championships, a silver from the 2012 Olympics and a bronze from the 2011 outdoor World Championships. Here, his advice on triple jump technique forms these practical tips for coaches and young jumpers.

Characteristics of Good Jumpers

Some of it comes down to genetics. For example, long femurs are a really a good sign of a triple jumper. People with some speed also have the potential to become good jumpers. There’s a lot of people that can do triple jump, but they just don’t know it yet.

Success in other events may not be a good predictor of ability in the triple jump. If you can triple jump, you can long jump; however, not all long jumpers can triple jump. For the triple jump, when you’re approaching the board you’re not turning over the same way as you would for the long jump. When you’re in the long jump, you’re turning over and you’re trying to stay tall and have your knees up, so that when you take off from the board you can drive your knee. The triple jump is a little more in control, you’re running a little more in control than in the long jump.

Learning and Teaching the Jump

You can’t just go out there and show somebody, ‘This is the triple jump, OK now jump.’ You have to break it down, ‘Here’s the first phase; this is how you come off the board; this is how you hit your second phase; this is how you land; this is how you drive your knee on your last phase.’ And then you put it all together.”

Work on Bounding

Many beginners start out not knowing how to bound, so that is a good place to start. Work on bounding to the point where it just becomes natural. Aim for speed and power and quickness—just being quick off the ground and just having that bounce in their step is definitely a good thing for a triple jumper to have.

Work on Speed and Angles

You want to have good angles and you want to drive your knee to parallel when you’re coming off the board (in the triple jump) so you don’t over-rotate. If you don’t drive your knee, then your chest won’t be up. You want to drive your knee and slow down your rotation on that first phase and slow your rotation down so that when you get to your second phase, then you’ll be in a good position. If you start off bad then it’s just going to go downhill from there—the first phase is definitely the most important phase.

You want to get off the ground as quick as possible. If you watch Jonathan Edwards, he was so quick off the ground. You want to keep your speed throughout your second and your third phase. Whoever keeps their speed the most going into the last phase is probably the one who’s going to win. Anyone can keep their speed if their distance is short, but you want to maintain your speed while getting distance and not going too high or going too low. Again, it has to be perfect angles. Your knee drive has to be there and you have to hold your second phase as long as possible. Coming off of your last phase you have to drive your knee and punch your arms to keep that momentum going.

Landing is definitely big, too. Landing in the sand is something that messes up a lot of people. It robs people of inches and even sometimes feet, all the time.


While most jumpers use the foot pattern of "strong-strong-weak", Claye goes "weak-weak-strong" in the triple jump. Claye states that is natural for him, but that his last phase is his best phase, "...my last phase is always big. I’m able to keep all my speed, and if I can do that and hit my last phase I’ll go 21 feet on my last phase."

Aim to hit that first phase correctly and the rest will pretty much flow naturally. If you do that right, and you’re in a good position going into your second (phase), it’ll feel like you don’t even have to try—it just happens. In the triple jump, if you try too hard it won’t work. You have to really be relaxed.

Drill For Young Jumpers

A drill that Claye recommends, which he got from Willie Banks, is called a two-minute drill. You go like 30 feet away from the pit and you take just a stride up and you do a triple jump. Right when you come out of the pit you go right back, for two minutes straight. It just helps you to keep your technique straight and tight, as you’re getting fatigued. When you get fatigued you really have to think about the technique, and keeping it tight. That’s definitely a good drill.

Claye has one last piece of advice for young jumpers: "Don’t forget that you have to run fast to jump far. Speed is big in the triple jump.”