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High Jump Baby Step #4 - Over Bar Mechanics (Backbend)


Looking at the bar is a common mistake for new jumpers. When the athlete looks at the bar while they jump their chin drops toward their chest. When an athlete’s chin comes to their chest it causes their hips and butt to drop. Ever seen a high jumper “cannonball” over a bar? That is what happens when you look at the bar. The athlete's head and eyes need to stay back. A focal point is the back, opposite corner of the high jump mat.

An example of an athlete looking at the bar while jumping.


Driving the athlete’s shoulders to the mat allows a faster rotation around the bar. Think about an ice skater when they are spinning. As the skater pulls in their arms, they spin faster. The same applies for over bar mechanics or the backbend. The closer the athlete can get their head and shoulders to their feet while over the bar, the faster they will rotate around and clear the bar.

A good example of the athlete driving their shoulders to the mat. Notice how he drives his head to the mat and how his legs are bent at the knee. This allows for quick rotation around the bar.


Athletes do not need to snap! I will repeat, athletes do not need to snap! The snap is the number one myth of high jump and is a symptom of the athlete doing something wrong in the first 3 High Jump Baby Steps. Now you might ask “If the athlete doesn’t snap won’t they land on their head?” They won’t! We naturally tuck our neck and head when we get to the mat. A good high jumper will land on their upper shoulders when hitting the mat. Left-footed jumpers will normally land on their upper right shoulder and right foot jumpers will normally land on their upper left shoulder.

An example of a "cannonball" over the bar. The reason this athlete snaps is from him looking at the bar while jumping.

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