The Physics of the High Jump Essay

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The Physics of the High Jump

The world consists of many phenomena. Some of them are mysteries to us as human beings, while many others can be explained. Progressively over the centuries, science has helped us to better understand the spectacular things that physically affect the human race and the earth. Almost every single thing that deals with the physical aspect of our existence can now be explained through physics, which in turn helps us to better understand our surrounding environment. Where I have always been involved in sports, I am very interested in the specific physics that each sport consists of. One such sport that fascinates me is the high jump, and for this reason I am going to delve into the physics of the high jump and
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The run up phase begins with the jumper accelerating from his starting position to an “optimum velocity on his way to the bar” (5). Where the jumper is traveling in a specific direction towards the bar we know that he or she will obtain a certain velocity because the athlete will combine his or her speed with the direction he or she is traveling. In the run up phase we are dealing with horizontal velocity because the jumper is running horizontally toward the bar, and this horizontal velocity will prove to be important later on because it will be converted into vertical velocity enabling the jumper to go up and clear the bar.

So as the high jumper accelerates toward the bar, the first four or five steps of the approach are going directly perpendicular to the bar. At about the fifth step a jumper starts into the J curve or phase of the approach, which is basically just a simple curve that brings the jumper from the original strait on approach which he or she begins with, to a better angle which will help the jumper clear the bar more easily. The J curve of the approach is important to the high jump for several reasons. One thing that a jumper must do though, in order to complete the J curve effectively, is to lean inward as he or she travels through the curve. “[They] should have a lean of approximately 30 [degrees]” (Dapena and Willmott 32). The purpose of this lean is to help create a centripetal force, “which means
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