Track and field is comprised of three main athletic competitions: running, throwing, and lastly, jumping. This article focuses on track and field jumping events, and more particularly, the component that assists the athlete in producing a powerful performance- track jumping shoes. Before diving into the technical aspect of both the track and field jumping events and track jumping spikes, let us take a quick look at the history of the sport.
Dating back to 776 B.C., track and field competitions were held in line with religious festivities. The first recorded track and field competition takes in the form of the Ancient Olympic Games. Before, track and field competitions were centered on running events. Both jumping and throwing events came in at a later part after the introduction of the Olympic pentathlon. It’s a five-event competition that featured long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, stadion footrace, and wrestling.
The different track and field jumping events
Before its standardization during the 1860s, long jump competitions were facilitated with athletes having to carry weights with them. They will then release these weights in the middle of their jump to fuel their momentum. The modern long jump competitions still bear quite a resemblance to how they were first devised in the Ancient Olympic Games—minus the weights.
Today, athletes are to sprint on the length of the track, which leads to a jumping board and a sandpit. The winning factor of the long jump event is how far the athletes have jumped and reached over the sandpit. The athlete reaching the farthest distance wins. To achieve such a feat, speed and stability are two of the integral parts of the athlete’s performance. These qualities are to be found in track jumping shoes that have sufficient traction and support.
Frequently referred to as “hop, skip, and jump,” the triple jump is a track and field event that carries some similarities to the long jump. So much so that the two events are referred to as “horizontal jumps.” Today, it still remains unknown whether the triple jump was really part of the Ancient Olympic Games; no records to prove its existence during that time.
In the sport of triple jump, athletes jump horizontally, integrating three distinct movements before landing in the designated sandpit. First, the athlete is to run a length in the track before proceeding to a hop. During the jump, the athlete takes off and land with the same foot. Then, a step wherein the athlete falls on the other foot. Finally, a drop, landing with both feet this time. One thing to note about this sport is that when a jumper touches the ground with the wrong leg, automatically, the jump performed is disqualified. Just like the long jump, the farther the distance reached within the sandpit, the better. Such sport demands the same amount of support and speed as the long jump. That is why the track jumping spikes utilized in long jump competitions can also be used in triple jump events.
One crucial element of the high jump is the inclusion of a horizontally placed bar at measured heights. The goal of the athlete is to jump over the bar without evicting it. The layout of this jumping event includes two standards holding the infamous horizontal bar, and a crash mat that catches the athlete upon landing. High jumpers before practiced a far more different jumping style than what we usually see today. What we witness today is called the Fosbury Flop, which was made famous by Dick Fosbury in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.
The Fosbury Flop involves athletes running towards the bar, leaping head first with their backs to the bar. In order to yield a powerful performance, athletes in the high jumping events require track jumping shoes. These spikes have sufficient pins configured for a firm plant that aids the takeoff foot.
Just like the format of the high jump, athletes in the pole vault event are required to go over a horizontally laid bar without dislodging it. Here, athletes are aided with a flexible pole, which is either made out of fiberglass or carbon fiber. The pole vault competition has also been founded during Ancient times.
Although flexibility is a main factor in the pole vault event, speed is considered to be the most crucial factor in giving optimal performance in the said sport. Since pole vault is as equally demanding as that of long jump and triple jump, the track jumping shoes configured for these sports are also suitable for pole vault competitions.
The different track and field jumping shoes
Although four sports mainly comprise the jumping event of the track and field competition, there are only two types of track jumping spikes that are offered in the market:
Pole Vault/ Long Jump/ Triple Jump spikes
As mentioned earlier, these events press for both speed and stability to supply optimal performance to the athlete. To aid stability, sufficient support must be present in the configuration of the track jumping shoe. That’s why these types of spikes are built with a full-length cushioning that delivers ample support to the athlete. Such a feature is especially crucial during planting.
Moreover, speed equates to a shoe having excellent surface traction. Thus, these track jumping shoes must be fashioned in such a way that they maintain reliable spikes- may they be permanently implanted or removable spikes. Traction is also delivered with the shoe’s thin spike plate design. Such a spike plate composition also assists in providing additional support during takeoff and landing.
High Jump spikes
Since high jump is overwhelmed with several twisting movements, the spike designated for this sport bears a reliable and durable upper. An excellent upper material maintains security as the athlete turns overs the high bar. Like the pole vault/ long jump/ triple jump spike, high jump track jumping shoe features spikes in the forefoot that are essential during the run before jumping. However, these track jumping shoes employ additional spike elements in the heel area. Essentially, this configuration allows for better traction and support, especially during approach and plant.
What to look for in a track and field jumping spike
- Traction. In jumping events, the performance of the athletes is not powered both by their jump and their run. That is why track jumping spikes for both men and women are fashioned in such a way that they deliver optimal surface traction. It is an element that is very critical to the athlete’s momentum build-up.
- Support. You can find that track jumping spikes are designed with supportive elements. Such elements can be found in the in-shoe cushioning of the spike and the spike plate of the shoe. Support is an essential aspect of track jumping shoes as it permits stability to be supplemented to the athlete. Stability is also a fundamental element that adheres to the assurance of safety.
- Fit. The last thing that an athlete would want to happen is a track jumping spike that is prematurely removed in the middle of his/her competition. That is why when getting a pair of jumping spikes, be sure to secure the fit. You might be wondering how to know the best-fitting track jumping shoes. Well, first and foremost, these spikes should have a glove-like and snug fit. These should also have a narrow fit with your toes reaching the end of the shoe, but not necessarily jamming into it.
Frequently asked questions
Are track and field jumping shoes supposed to be lightweight?
As a matter of fact, yes. The lightweight design of these track jumping shoes for both men and women is supposed to aid in fueling the performance of the athlete. Running during these track jumping events is as equally important as the jumping. Athletes need to gain speed—this is where the lightweight fashion of these jumping spikes come into action along with the shoe’s traction.
How to distinguish the best-suiting track jumping spikes?
The first thing to keep in mind when purchasing a pair of your very own track jumping shoes is the fit of the shoe. Again, you don’t want any injury during your competitions and training. Second, always look into the cushioning of the shoe as it is responsible for supplying ample support. This is also an important factor in maintaining an injury-free practice or competition. Lastly, if you want to up your performance, may you be a beginner, an intermediate-level, or an elite athlete, always consider the traction of the shoe. This element is significant in enhancing your speed and jumping performance.
What type of spikes best work with my track jumping shoes?
Your track jumping spikes are configured differently and are engineered for different surfaces. Thus, the answer to this question relies on the type of surface you want to use your track jumping shoes on:
- Pyramid spikes. These spikes are best suited for rubber, dirt, or grass surfaces.
- Needle spikes. These are fitting on all-weather surfaces.
- Tartan spikes. Similar-looking to the needle spikes, these are meant for rubber surfaces.
- Christmas tree spikes. These are also called as the “compression spikes.” These feature a tiered design and are convenient for rubber surfaces.
8 best jumping track & Field shoes
- Asics Long Jump Pro
- Adidas Adizero TJ/PV
- Saucony Uplift HJ 2
- Adidas Adizero LJ
- Nike Zoom Long Jump 4
- Nike Zoom Triple Jump Elite
- Nike Zoom Pole Vault II
- Nike Pole Vault Elite
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