Rules of High Jump.
January 23, 2008 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Did the rules governing the high jump change because of what gymnasts were able to do?

When I was a child, my father told me that the reason high jumpers must leave the ground on only one foot is because of gymnasts who were able to clear a bar much higher than traditional track and field athletes. This was because gymnasts tumbled toward the bar and left on two feet. Thus, according to my father, the rules were codified to mandate that the high jumper must leave on one foot only.

I was given no names or dates, but I would suspect that this may have occurred in the 50's or 60's.

If this is in fact historically correct, does anyone know any details about it? What gymnastic tumblers were able to do this, or when or where?
posted by Tube to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How High is a High Jump? -- TIME, 1954

That may be what your dad is thinking of, yet it also indicates that the one-foot takeoff was entrenched as a rule or at least a convention. Browning went into the Hall of Fame.

It's not clear when the one-foot rule came about; the sport's first modern official rules seem to date from 1865.

See also the Fosbury Flop, an innovation in 1968 and now standard.
posted by dhartung at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2008

You can search online using the following keywords "fosbury flop", "straddle" and "western roll". Those are the historical techniques being used in high jump.
What you describe sounds like the western roll. According to this text that technique was supplanted by the straddle around that time.
posted by jouke at 9:38 PM on January 23, 2008

Yes! Thank you dhartung! I'm sure that's where my father would have picked this up, he certainly read Time magazine, but didn't really follow track and field sports. I'll bet this is exactly the source of this. Genuine thanks for shedding light on something that has puzzled me since childhood!

On a fastidious note, it sounds like the "one foot rule" was in place long before Browning's feat.
posted by Tube at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2008

The wikipedia article does state that the 'jumping off of one foot' rule is accurate, anyway.

I always assumed that the reason that high jumpers leave the ground on one foot is because they approach the bar at an angle. This allows them to do the "Fosbury Flop" and clear higher bars by twisting their body in the air.

Intuitively, I find it hard to believe that any kind of tumbling approach would allow someone to clear higher bars, but I'd love to see video of someone doing it if I'm wrong.

aside: this question is already on the first page of google results for "high jump why the one foot rule". Indexed 8 minutes ago. Holy Shit.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:29 PM on January 23, 2008

Gymnasts use springs to get their height, unlike high jumpers. In the floor exercise, the whole floor is sprung, and in the vault, they use a springboard.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on January 24, 2008

True, but I wonder whether their training to take off that way (using both legs at the moment of takeoff) would permit them to clear higher bars if they had the same floor surface used by high jumpers?
posted by Doohickie at 6:12 AM on January 24, 2008

From my junior years intensively involved in athletics, two things spring to mind.

There were standing-start jump events, definitely in long jump and, I'm mildly confident, also in high jump. I mention this because I wonder if the rules pertaining to modern high jumping arose to delineate it from the standing start variety which was from 2 feet. (this is 'just a thought' by way of an educated guess)

The western roll and straddle were techniques that aimed for the highest height (obviously) but differ from the modern variety in that they adhered to the rules governing the sport at the time (pre-1966ish) that required competitors to go over the bar feet first. Dick Fosbury's revolutionary method (and I'm about 94.3% sure rules were changed because of him) differed because the jumper goes over head first.

[What?! No, I haven't read the articles yet.]
posted by peacay at 7:27 AM on January 24, 2008

Standing start high jump (with links to the other standing start events) -- doesn't answer your question specifically however.
posted by peacay at 7:28 AM on January 24, 2008

high jumpers leave the ground on one foot is because they approach the bar at an angle

This is true today, but apparently the original way to do it was head-on.
posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on January 25, 2008

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