Farewell Dick Fosbury, High Jump Genius

I was saddened to read today that Dick Fosbury passed away yesterday at the age of 76 from a recurrence of lymphoma.

I have often pointed to Fosbury as an example of how you can do anything with any type of technique but that only one technique is optimal.

I was immediately struck by the fact that even Dick, who innovated the technique, didn’t have the optimal model of his style, which was developed later by other jumpers who followed him into the technique of “flopping” over the bar backwards, hence the term “Fosbury Flop.”

What was Dick missing that would have made his particular flop optimal?

The leveraging of the jump with the arms as one begins the actual jump:

Modern Fosbury Flop Technique

… whereas Fosbury jumped with both arms down at his sides as he took off.

I competed in long jump when I was in track & field (tried high jump briefly but couldn’t master the Flop and so couldn’t really compete), and when I played basketball in high school, I was obsessed with improving my vertical leap so that I could slam dunk even though I’m only 6’1″ in height:

… and anyone who has jumped a good deal knows that you get more leverage by using the arms to provide upward momentum on the takeoff.

Apologies for the off-topic posting, but the name Fosbury always brings back such golden memories of my adolescence & competing in sports which, along with reading and writing, have always been my true loves in this life.

If the sight of dewy grass on the football pitch in the morning sun, the squeaking of basketball shoes on polished hardwood, the crack of a puck striking the Plexiglas or anything of the sort takes you back to younger days when anything seemed possible… you know what I’m talking about.

That’s why I took up golf in my 20’s – anything to still be doing something sports-related…

The following video is less than 2 minutes long, I would strongly recommend watching the master himself in the middle of creating athletic history.

Dick Fosbury’s 1968 Gold Medal Technique – Mexico City Olympic Games

Regardless, that someone eventually came up with the idea to improve this jumping technique by using the arms for lift doesn’t take away that Fosbury innovated it, and whether he himself had the perfect version of his Flop, it was still the optimal way to get over the bar.

Sort of how the Classic Golf Swing is the optimal style in which to swing a golf club and that somewhere in there, is an optimal way to swing in that style.

My best wishes & condolences to the Fosbury family, and I will continue my work with Mr. Fosbury as my inspiration in the technique work I’m conducting.

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