The high jump is a spectacular athletic event. The arching run up, the wind up before the jump, the moment the athlete soars into the air and that split-second where she seemingly hangs above the bar before hopefully clearing it to land on her back. High jumping is a very technical event that requires lot of training and practice, no shortage of skill and even a little bravery.
Although not as fast as a long jump run up, a high jumper must still run fast toward her take-off point. At the last moment she converts her forward momentum to vertical momentum to leap up and over the bar. The run up is normally curved so the jumper is sideways on to the bar as she takes off. Speed is developed by performing sprinting drills as well as specific speed and run-up exercises.
Power, sometimes called elastic strength, is strength expressed at speed. Where a heavy squat is all about strength, a squat jump is power -- the movements are similar but the velocity is much higher for jumping. Power is both a natural trait and something that can be improved with training. Jump-training exercises called plyometrics are often used to increase a high jumper's ability to generate power.
The Fosbury flop, the most widely used high-jump technique, requires lots of flexibility so the jumper can stay as close to the bar as possible to clear the greatest height. A big back arch allows the jumper to literally wrap herself around the bar before flipping her legs and feet clear. Flexibility can be improved by regular stretching practice and should focus on all the major muscles and joints as well as those specific to the high jump.
Sports such as diving, trampolining, gymnastics, pole vault and high jump all share a common skill -- arial awareness. This is the innate ability to know where you are in relation to the ground. Aerial awareness comes with practice and is essential for successful high jumping; the athlete must know where she is in relation to the bar and the landing mat to avoid landing awkwardly or inadvertently clipping the bar with her feet or any other body part.
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.