How To Train Indoor When You Have No Space, Mats, Or Facility

So how do you train for the jumps indoor when you have no/little space, mats, or a facility?

Well, at the high school level, and even at small college level not having space to practice in, or having the right equipment, etc is a big issue.

Almost every high school jumper has to deal with this in some way.

Many colleges have to deal with this too.

So what’s the answer to this?

Well, it depends.

The one thing I hate hearing about is everyone going outside and doing long distance runs. They’re doing that because they don’t know what to do inside or don’t have the space.

If you are a pure jumper/vaulter at any level, long distance runs do very little for you. They can actually hold back your jumping performance.

But… you gotta do what the coach says and how they are running the program.

The other important thing that I’ve found over the years when it comes to training during the indoor season is…

A lot of BAD habits are created.

Especially in the high jump and pole vault.

More so in the high jump though.

That’s because we’re fortunate to have the the hudson valley flying circus in our area for pole vault.  So you can always schedule something over there.

So How Do You Train For The High Jump Indoors?

Well… if you are practicing inside without the right space, you can really screw things up.

That’s if you even have a gym/ hallway to practice in.

How can things get really screwed up?

Well, most gym floors are very slippery.

If you keep practicing on those, and running approaches and jumping on those surfaces, you are going to end up slowing down on the approach, and compensating for the slippery floor. Especially when you run the curve in the high jump approach.

Not only that, eventually if you try run them the correct way and at the right speed, there’s a good chance you’ll slip and fall.  I see it a lot.

Kind of like this…

If you keep practicing on a slippery surface over and over, you’ll end up creating bad habits.  Which will carry over to a meet.

Now, a lot of coaches will disagree with me on this.  But that’s okay.

So for my jumpers, high jump training and practicing is VERY minimal during the indoor season.  Just basic stuff, and maybe a few short approach jumps.

Also,  we don’t have the right mats or the space inside to do much for the high jump either.  Plus the mat we do have has a huge hole in it, so it isn’t safe (See below).

So we work on drills, and techniques that can carry over between multiple jumping events.

But there is one thing we do…

We spend a lot of time at early season meets jumping at lower heights, and taking a lot of attempts.  We use the early meets as practice, and make adjustments there.

The good thing about that is, it forces the jumpers to practice the way they should compete.  It’s easier to create good habits doing it this way.

So we do this at the early meets in season.  Once we get into the season a bit, obviously it’s different.

Then it’s time to really compete.

So long story short, I’d rather not create bad habits high jumping on slippery floors and tight spaces, and risk an injury.

Plus it’s a lot harder to break bad habits than it is to create new ones. So our actual high jump practicing is minimal.

As for the horizontal events… aka… Long and triple…

There’s two ways to go about training indoor for that.

1) Go outside and shovel the snow off. You can do that for the high jump too!


2) Stick to hallways in the school.

There’s pros and cons to each.

I personally don’t like having jumpers doing any explosive work or jumping when it’s very cold out.  Too many chances of pulling a muscle or getting hurt. Plus the environment is very different than competing inside. I like to match the environment as much as possible for my jumpers.

Plus, when it’s super cold, athletes just do the bare minimum because they don’t want to be in the cold. They lose focus, and this also creates bad habits and increases chances for injury.

That being said, sometimes you just have to do it. Especially if you don’t have the facility to practice inside.

The good thing about going outside is you have full access to the pits.

When we are inside, I just have my jumpers stick to the hallways.  We rarely  have access to the gym during practice time. If we get two days during the winter season to get in the gym, then that’s a good thing.

Hallways are good, because no matter what you do, you can always practice the approach.  Which is the most important part of any jump.

Even if you’re not able to do a full approach because you have short hallways (or rounded hallways) you can always break down the approach and work on smaller sections of it.  Which we do all the time.

You can also do lots of short sprints, and accelerations too.

That’s the kind of things you should be focusing on anyway…

NOT long slow distance (LSD) runs.

When it comes to actually jumping inside…

That again is a tough nut to crack.

We’re fortunate enough to have a few gymnastics mats that we throw on the floor, and one section of an OLD pole vault mat.

But, these all have holes in them, are beat up, and they disappear all the time.

The mats are like gold.  Whenever they are around we are a happy bunch.

Oh, and the pole vault mat, has such a big hole in it, that when the jumpers land in it they literally fall inside the mat, it eats their shoes, and sometimes it takes 2 people to help get them out.

mat eats shoe

The 1 pole vault mat we have that’s eats shoes and athletes. And one of the only few days we have a gym to practice in

This is what it looks like when jumping on the mat…

So we have to make due with what we’re given.

But we also realize that we are fortunate enough to have this. I hear coaches talk a lot about having less than this.  Even at the college level.

A lot of times for us there are no mats or space, so it’s back to working on the approach, sprints, strength training, and developing better overall athletes.

The better athlete they become, the farther and higher they jump.

Now you can always practice specific drills and technique stuff without the mats, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time doing that.

That’s because most hallways are concrete, and gym floors are wood.  If you have no mats, and can get in the gym, than that’s better than a hallway.  But it would be smart to limit jumping drills with no mats on the ground.

Indoor training on these surfaces is infamous for…. SHIN SPLINTS!!!!

Almost every jumper I’ve every had gets them during the indoor season.  No matter what we do to strengthen and try improve the body/ legs, jumpers always get them.

85% of the time it’s because of the hard floors. The other 15% is they’re not used to the “pounding,” and the strength is not there yet.

If you’re creative though, you can do drills with less impact that will help across all the jumps.

Skips are a big drill that I LOOOOOOVE!  Skips carry over for every jumping event.  From takeoff, to positions in landings, to timing with the arms. They are definitely a little bit less impact and you can do those in a smaller space.

You can also do some basic hops.  If you have no mats, I wouldn’t recommend doing many of these though.

Two foot hops are a good plyo drill because you have both legs to absorb the impact.

I would be very cautious about doing single leg drills with out some soft padding/mats on the floor though.

The other things you can focus on if you have very little space or equipment, is takeoffs.  Obviously you won’t be able to practice these at full speed, unless you have long hallways or a gym, but you can still do basic work on the takeoff.

Sometimes we do takeoff drills within only 10-15 feet of space.

So you can definitely make it work.

These are a few things that you can do that will cary over into multiple events, help you work on jumping better, and will at least limit some of the impact on the body.

They are also things you can do in limited space with NO equipment.

There are tons of different variations to all of this depending on your circumstances but…

This is how I’ve been able to practice when not having the right indoor facility.

So if you have a tough situation indoor with training, it just comes down to being creative.

There’s no one real answer to solve this issue.

Well, actually there is…

Having a local indoor track facility.

But that’s a story for another time.

So focus on the drills that that are…

  • Simple
  • Can be done in a small space
  • Carry over to multiple jumping events
  • And are lower impact.

You will be surprised how much you can do, when you just break things down and get creative.

Hopefully, this little article on how to train indoor without a facility, or equipment, or space was helpful.

If you have questions on this or are curious about what to do within the space you have, just let me know.