I coach track and field and have been wanting practice ramps for high jump and long jump for awhile, but they are very expensive (from athletic equipment suppliers). I built two of them in about 5 hours for less than $100, and you can too. The ramp gives athletes some additional height so there is more time aloft to perfect form, the reason athletes should use a ramp rather than a box is because it promotes heel strike first (as it would on the ground). A flat box promotes a flat foot landing (negating the springing action to the Achilles tendon).
Step 1: Materials & Tools
All items quoted at Home Depot
- 2"x8"x8' pressure treated (2 x $5.17) $10.34
- 4'x8'x0.5" pressure treated plywood (1 x $25.57) $25.57
- 60"x30" poly doormat (1 x $17.97) $17.97
- 1 lb. box deck screws (1 x $9.37) $9.37
Miscellaneous hand tools (as needed)
- cordless driver
- angle grinder
- belt sander
- circular saw
Step 2: Planning the Ramp
The ramp dimensions are as follows; 30" wide, 7" high and 45.25" long. I had to be sure that the 4' dimension of the plywood would be adequate and didn't want to piece it together. So after I created my template, I measured the radius and then adjusted it until the radius was 24", which resulted in a 22 5/8" base length.
I free-handed the ramp arc and just flipped the template over after marking the middle of each 2x8.
Each piece was cut using the sabersaw, I then matched them together, screwed them together temporarily and then used the belt sander to smooth out the inconsistencies in my cuts.
Step 3: Handles
I created another template about 5" wide and 1 1/4" high for the hand holds.
Separate the two sides (previously held together for sanding).
Mark the center location for the handholds and trace the template.
I pre-drilled the handhold and then used the sabersaw to cut the opening.
I used the router to round the inner and outer edges, and quickly sanded the remaining edges. They are shown stacked, but only for convenience.
Step 4: The Ramp Surface
The plywood was cut to size (48" x 30") and then, to aid the bending, I cut kerfs every 2" or so along the back side. The cuts were made in the 30" direction.
The sides were then attached to a temporary base to hold them 30" apart and stabilize them for the next step.
The plywood was marked at the 24" point on both sides and aligned with the center/apex of each side.
Start with one screw on each side at the apex and then working, with your weight on the plywood continue screwing in both sides (working back and forth) until you reach the end. Repeat the process for the other side.
Remove the temporary base when you're done, you won't need it.
Step 5: Decking Material
The ramp deck needs a weatherproof surface that will also provide some traction. The poly/rubber door runner was perfect!
I started by aligning one corner to the corner of the ramp, screwed it down and then adjusted it until it neatly covered the radius of the ramp. I left a little overhang. Once the first side was screwed down, I moved to the other and then finished by tacking the short ends and putting sets of screws up the middle to keep the mat from sliding on the plywood surface.
I used a razor knife to trim away the excess and then flipped the ramps over and used the angle grinder to cut away all exposed screws at the short end and ground away the points of all others exposed in the middle.
I use the remaining strips of door runner to put strips along the bottom to (hopefully) keep it from slipping when indoors and give it a little more grip when outdoors.
Important note when attaching the strips, take care not to put screws through the space where the handholds are.
Step 6: The Finished Product
There they are, two ramps ready for practice, for about 1/8 of the cost of two from the equipment distributor. I plan to add photos or a short video of them being used once practice begins after the new year.