Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Flipping Out

The video confirms something I've wondered for a long time: why do high-jumpers do the Fosbury flop when it seems this would clear a much higher bar? At least as important as pondering Sarah Palin's latest, right?


  1. High jumpers are only allowed to jump off one foot (very simple answer, but the most essential). Fosbury discovered, pretty much by accident, that converting lateral movement into vertical was more efficient by taking a long run (prior to that, approaches were much shorter and practically stopped when approaching the bar) and leading with the upper body (head and shoulders)as opposed to the leg (such as the straddle or scissor jump that came before). I've heard it speculated that the ideal form would be a straight-on approach, sort of a dive up and over, although I've never seen anyone attempt it.

    Former high school high jumper here, who flopped naturally when the era was still changing (four years after he won the gold medal in Mexico City). So I take it seriously.

  2. Thanks, Chuck. I figured there was some sort of rule, but was too lazy to look it up. I wonder if it's possible to flip like that video when lifting up the takeoff foot.

    In any case, in terms of human powered unaided (with a pole) jumping, it seems the gymnasts are going way higher. High jumpers, it seems, put a big toe on the scale with their rules.

  3. That last jump must be off some kind of trampoline. His whole body is above a 12-14' garage door at second 7. By way of contrast Michael Jordan had a 48" vertical, Randy Moss 51".

  4. They will always go higher, and always have. There's the story from the 1950s of them setting a high jump bar at 7'6" (as I recall, and this was when the record was right around 7 feet even)and a gymnast back flipping over it with no problem. Two feet are better than one, no question. Then again, we can start speculating on two-handed javelin throwing, etc. It is what it is. I do love the sport, though.

  5. Wow! And quietly, don't let my kid see that--the one who did high jumps in high school and one time missed the mat coming back down.


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