The basics of approach design
Infinite Possible Approaches
How many ways can you make an approach to a high jump bar? The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, most of these endless possibilities don't work.
Some approaches don't work because they are simply too difficult to run consistently. Others don't work because they don't set you up for the takeoff correctly.
Only a small subset of the "possible" approaches set you up for the takeoff correctly. I call these "acceptable" approaches. These approaches:
There are only a few "optimal" approaches. They have all the attributes of "acceptable" approaches and they:
Designing an Optimal Approach
Before designing a building, an airplane, a car, or a high jump approach, you have to know what it should do. You would not attempt to design a school building, for example, without knowing how many students and teachers you will have, what the ground at the building site is like, and the climate. So, let's lay out what a high jump approach must do, and then I'll explain how to design one.
Here are some basic design criteria for an approach:
You want to cross the bar so the highest point of your jump coincides with the lowest point on the bar. If you have taken physics, you already know that highest point of your jump is the middle of your flight path. You also know that once you are in the air, your path over the ground will be a straight line. So, your flight path across the ground should be a straight line from your takeoff point across the center of the bar to your landing point.
You don't want to put any extra effort into changing your horizontal direction during the takeoff, and you want a smooth transition from your curve to your flight path. So, the curve should end at your takeoff point, and your flight path should be tangent to your curve at the takeoff point.
Your transition into the curve should be smooth as well. So, your initial straight run should be tangent to your curve at the intercept point (where your curve starts).
You can meet the last two criteria by making your straight run at a right angle to the line formed by the bar. This allows you to make your initial run an angle that is relatively easy to visualize. It also gives you a comfortable running distance in the curve.
With the exception of the angle of the initial run to the bar, I have purposely avoided assigning any dimensions to the approach. The page entitled Your Approach deals with the dimensions of your personal approach. The page entitled Running It describes how to run the approach.
The High Jump Coach 2010TM software is based on the concepts above and enables you create personalized approaches for yourself or for all the jumpers you are coaching. It is important to note that the approach path described here is the path your CM (center of mass) follows during the approach. The path your feet follow as they strike the ground during your approach is slightly different (see Running it!)