Let The Ground Surprise You
Tara Davis sells out in-flight like many excellent long jumpers I’ve photographed.

“Let The Ground Surprise You,” I heard as the coach implored his athlete to keep his form to the ground. It was the first time I had ever heard that phrase in all my years photographing elite long jumpers. I thought it was brilliant and I let him know. He said, “sometimes the athletes just need a different way to think about it.” Good long jumpers seem to explode off the board, sell out in the air, fly pretty, and land hard.

Later in the day, Saturday at The 2022 Mt. SAC Relays, I was able to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I was able to photograph Tara Davis long jumping. I missed the chance when she was at Agoura High School, though I’ve seen other images and watched videos. She does all of the above. She is fearless when she jumps. Look at the composites below. She fully embodies the expression, “let the ground surprise you.”

I didn’t ask the coach his name, unfortunately. I assumed it was just an expression I had not heard. I figured I’d Google “let the ground surprise you” and find a thousand long jump references. I was wrong. There were none. There were only six results at the time. Every Google result was related to jumping out of an airplane or landing a helicopter, but none of them related to long jumping. Now I’m on a mission.

I need to find this long jump Coach and give him credit. He seemed to be local to Southern California. The guy running the long jump pit for Mt. SAC seemed to know him as did other local-to-Southern-CA coaches. He also seemed to be coaching kids from several different schools. I’d be very appreciative if you can help me hunt him down and get his name into this post!

Let The Ground Surprise You
Look at image five in this composite above. Tara Davis is fully committed to the air.
Let The Ground Surprise You

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EXIF Data Below Applies Only To The Featured Photo In This Post
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: ILCE-1
  • Taken: 17 April, 2022
  • Exposure bias: -1EV
  • Focal length: 106mm
  • ISO: 160
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • 4 Comments

    1. It’s got to be either her dad (Ty Davis) or Anrique Freeman. Both are amazing coaches. Anrique headed up Plyometric fusion until Covid. My daughter & son both coached by him. If it is him, he’s an AMAZING GUY!

    2. Suzie, the post may be confusing. My apologies. He didn’t say it to Tyra. He said it to a high school boy who was jumping earlier. I’m just using Tyra as an example of the correct execution. 🙂 And, I’ve met Anrique a number of times. He has worked with my wife, Rocky Turner, Head Coach at Bishop Alemany. So… I’m still looking! Thank you for engaging!

    3. Great pics! Let the ground surprise you is a typical expression in the long jump world especially as jumpers start to progress in their technique. It is used to explain to the jumper that they should not rush their landing. When jumpers start to get stronger and faster they tend to keep the same timing in their head to start letting their feet down. Tara has trained in a number of different ways to start to adjust this portion. A few ways that she has protected this technique is by going into a gymnasium that has a foam pit that allows her to not worry about trying to land. Another way is to add a small box to simulate the height she may get in competition. Good luck on your search and keep snapping great pictures. (Ty Davis aka Tara’s dad/coach/agent😊)

    4. Ty, thank you! This is great stuff. It was a joy to watch your daughter jump, and not just the jumps themselves. Her energy and emotion is contagious!

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