Tuesday, March 29, 2011

HIGH JUMP 101: What's this thing called the High Jump?

The high jump is physics in motion.  It involves converting speed forward into height upwards.   It is one of the most reactive events in track and field.  In a given jump, an athlete will apply 4 to 10 times her body weight.  And while the image of an athlete clearing a bar is the one most often seen, actually more than 90% of the work is done on the ground.  Once an athlete is in air, there is little that she can do, to change the outcome of the performance. It is a very technical event,  demanding, physical strength, power, speed and stamina… and most importantly psychological prowess. 

An athlete has 3 attempts to clear a height.  If you survive the height you move on to the next height progression.  The athlete who clears the highest height wins.  Incidentally, the high jump and pole vault, are the only the events in Athletics where an athlete will end on a failure… failure to clear a certain height.  Each competition offers the opportunity to win and the certainty of a maximum height cleared on that particular day. 
And, while it is a technical event it would be impossible to jump everyday in training.  In fact at the elite level, an athlete may only jump at most twice a week in training.  Instead, plyometrics, strength training and running are the necessary ingredients.
Perhaps why I love this event is at the end of the day, it is just me and the bar.  It’s as much a mental game as a physical game.  My quest involves exploring just how high I can really jump…


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