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Biomechanics & High Jump

One of the most significant innovations in athletics was the introduction of the "Fosbury Flop" by Dick Fosbury in 1968. He pioneered a radical new technique in high jumping. Prior to 1968, high jumpers traditionally cleared the bar by running, jumping and while remaining head up throwing over one leg and then another (straddle style). Fosbury twisted his body so that he went over head first with his back next to the bar.

With any projectile, which includes humans jumping, after takeoff the center of mass will follow a set path (ignoring aerodynamic forces). This old straddle technique meant that the center of mass must go over the top of the bar. The Fosbury Flop technique worked so well because he could arch his body so that his center of mass was outside his body and passed under the bar. This way a greater height can be cleared.

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