In any jumping event, the purpose of the approach is to deliver you to your takeoff point with the correct speed and in the correct body position. The high jump approach is no exception. What makes the high jump approach unique is that it is curved, rather than straight.
So, why do we use a curved approach? There is one reason, and only one reason; so you can begin your takeoff drive with your body leaned away from the bar. From this position, you can leave the ground vertically and, at the same time, start a rapid spin about the bar. You need the vertical takeoff to get the most height out of the energy you put into the jump. You need the rapid spin about the bar so your feet will clear the bar on the way down to the pit.
If these elements were not necessary to make Fosbury's technique work, we
would all be better off to forget about the curve and run a straight approach.
After all, to most jumpers and coaches the curve is a technical nightmare.
There are just too many variables in a curved approach. If any one of them is
incorrect, the approach will not work. On the other hand, a straight approach
is very simple; not much you can change, and not much you can do wrong.
Getting your approach right is the most important
thing you can do to improve your jumping. The right approach and takeoff can
add a foot (0.3 m) to your personal record. If your hips are clearing the bar
by more than your feet, then your approach and takeoff are not right.