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Jumping Distance

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Mike Powell of the United States currently holds the world record for the long jump at 8.95 meters, which is almost 30 feet! How did he jump so far? In this experiment, learn how a long jumper uses momentum from running to jump farther than the competition.


Areas of Science
Time Required
Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Material Availability
Readily available
Very Low (under $20)
No issues
Sara Agee, Ph.D., Science Buddies


In this experiment you will test if you can increase jumping distance by increasing the running distance before the jump.


The long jump was one of the events of the original Olympics in Ancient Greece. The athletes carried a weight in each hand, called a haltere. These weights would be swung forward as the athlete jumped to increase momentum, and then thrown backwards whilst in mid-air so as to propel himself further forward (Wikipedia Contributors, 2006).

Greek illustration of a man performing a standing long jump using a halteres
Here is an illustration of ancient Greek Olympians using halteres to increase their distance on the standing long jump. (illustration by Patricia J. Wynne, American Musem of Natural History)

So how can you improve your long jump? The most important things to think about in the long jump are your approach, your takeoff, your flight, and your landing. The key to being successful at the long jump is to have a good technique at each stage of the jump. A strong approach will lead to a better takeoff, which will lead to a better flight and a longer jump (KidzWorld, 2006).

In this experiment, you will test how momentum can help you jump farther. Since it is tough these days to find ancient Greek halteres at your local sporting goods store, we will use running distance to increase momentum. Will running a longer distance before the jump make you jump farther?

Terms and Concepts

To do this type of experiment you should know what the following terms mean. Have an adult help you search the internet, or take you to your local library to find out more!



Materials and Equipment

Experimental Procedure

  1. For this experiment you will need to find a long jump pit. Most high schools will have one on the track field. Look for a running track that ends in a pit of sand.
  2. First, measure out different running distances on the track and mark them off with your sidewalk chalk. Measure each distance from the bar at the edge of the pit. Try using these distances: zero, 3, 6, 9, and 12 meters.
  3. Make a data table for your results. You should include space for three trial jumps at each starting distance you have measured. Here is an example:
Running Distance (meters) Jumping Distance (meters)
Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average
3 m        
6 m        
9 m        
12 m        
  1. Now try running and jumping from your different starting points. Have someone help you to mark where your feet land (not your bottom) when you jump into the pit.
  2. After you jump into the pit, mark off and measure the distance of your jump and write the data in your data table.
  3. Keep jumping! The more jumps you do, the more data you will have! Maybe even have your friend repeat the experiment.
  4. Make a line graph of your results. On the left side of the graph (Y-axis) put the distance of the jump in meters. On the bottom of the graph (X-axis) put the starting distances that you measured and marked off with chalk. Now mark a dot where your data values (average jump length and starting length) intersect and connect the dots with a line.
  5. Analyze your graph. Does the line increase (slope upwards) or decrease (slope downwards)? What do you think this means about your results? How did increasing the running distance affect your jumping distance?
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Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.


  • Try making your own halteres with 1 gallon milk jugs. Fill the jugs with different volumes of water and then use them for a standing long jump. Do they improve your jumping distance? Which weight works the best?
  • Does height affect jumping distance? Find volunteers of different heights and have them do the long jump. Will tall people jump farther than short people?
  • Does speed affect jumping distance? Have volunteers do the long jump (to measure the jumping distance) AND time them running a sprint (to measure their running speed). Do people who run faster also have better jumping distances?


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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Jumping Distance." Science Buddies, 23 June 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Sports_p008/sports-science/jumping-distance. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, June 23). Jumping Distance. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Sports_p008/sports-science/jumping-distance

Last edit date: 2020-06-23
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