59 Comments

As a high jumper from the time, no coincidence that the flop arrived shortly after foam pits. I jumped on sawdust, which was common; some jumped into sand. No foam, no flop. Foam opened a door; Fosbury discovered the possible by going through it. (Noting that vaulters got foam before we more earthbound did.)

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Short is great and more fun to read! :)

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Mar 15, 2023Liked by David Epstein

I have a strange stubbornness when it comes to trying to finish one book before I move on to another. But it makes sense to pick and choose. That's really cool that you are using kindle and making that work, especially when travelling it's very handy to have your books on the phone/tablet. Great to be able to adapt and make that work for you. Something I will definitely keep in mind for the future! Good to be open to change eh 👍

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Not sure where this came from but I enjoyed the SHORT read and information but factual and insightfull. Thank you, David.

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I like your comments about qualities of great coaches. As a former collegiate (hept)athlete, I often struggled with the balance between 1) trusting your coach 110% and not deviating from their instructions 2) independently amassing knowledge about your event as a student of the sport and from that, coming up with your own ideas and solutions that your coach may not agree with. Many coaches disregard input from athletes on technical aspects because they have studied it for so long and their athletes haven't, so I appreciated hearing this aspect of Fosbury's story ... and as a medical student, I appreciated the brevity too ahaha.

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Dick and Robin were dear friends of Shay and me for many years. We spent a lot of time out in Sun Valley where they have lived.

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Most of the amazing male aerial moves in ballet were also developed by the dancers themselves, largely extending variant motions, some becoming signature moves.

Figure skating, following the slow development of assurance, and more recently using training aids to increase spinning speed, were developed by individual athletes exceeding the previously presumed bounds of the possible.

The latter has also occurred in artistic gymnastics , also in both sexes (gender is an identification and only rarely are there actual individuals having both primary sexual organs and the more important hormonal variation , while of interest, is not part of this comment) broaching ideas to cohorts and spotters, including coaches.

In such uncoached kinetic sports as surfing, snowboarding, windsurfing aerials, many, many accidental discoveries, (mistakes, with peculiar catlike saves) then further developed in the minds of performers moved those most creative and astonishing developments.

Even climbing, once, consistent daily training opportunities occurred through artificial climbing walls, extremely nonstandard methods were developed ALWAYS by individual climbers, using positions and muscles not seen , unless in children on jungle gyms, advanced the activity far beyond its original limits, although development of sticky rubber had a primary hand in it.

In the case of high jumping, by the way, small gymnasts using approaches called "flip-flops", consecutive handsprings had so overmatched regular running approaches to the bar by the 1930s, that gymnastic approaches, allowing THOSE individuals to clear far over 7 feet to 8 feet, were outlawed in that sport almost immediately.

So Fosbury was extremely lucky NOT to have encountered elder conservatives who always attempt to prevent innovation.

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As a former high school high jumper (and a short dude), thoroughly enjoyed this article.

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founding

Also a big fan of the short write up, but I think that's just coming from the part of me that is excited about anything that means more posts. I was surprised to see that the Fosbury Flop had such an effect on the height of high jumpers. I guess I'd assumed tall people would already have a big advantage in high jumping, so I'm surprised (and impressed) that Fosbury had such an impact. Always fun to see my intuition be totally off. (By the way, I'm sorry to bring this up again but the idea that innovation often comes from bottom-up experimentation not top-down theory is at the heart of chapters 7 and 11 of Black Box Thinking. I remember you said you don't always read entire books, so if you're pressed for time I'd start with those ones.)

Having said that, one question going back to something you mentioned a few weeks ago. What's your "master thought list"? Something you use to help you write?

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Really nice David.

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Congrats on getting anything out! I know how hard it is!

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Congratulations!

Keep on keepin’ on!

Thank you for honoring Dick Fosbury.

My goal is to write a follow-up piece about my experiences as a “Fosbury” jumper, my later specialized high jump coaching, and the gift of sitting next to Dick Fosbury’s Oregon coach, Berny Wagner, while observing the jumpers at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

Further, is it possible that these experiences positively impacted my 32 years as an educator, parent, and person? Yes!

And thank you for the nudge!

I look forward to more!

Jean_nelson@sbcglobal.net (note that I have no posts….yet!)

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My college boyfriend at University of Maryland was a world class high jumper prior to the Fosbury Flop. He could hit a basketball rim with his foot.

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It’s a good thing they called it the Fosbury flop and not the Dick flop.

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Excellent! The flop is awesome! I threw the discus and shot put in high school - using the discus spin for the shot as they do today could have added several feet to my shot put distance. I think the next thing we will see is a mid-air flip in the long jump!

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I was in High School in the 60's, and I was a miler on our high school track team. I can remember our high jumpers trying out the Fosbury Flop. Some were pretty good at it, some not so good. I even gave it a try but I was no jumper. I was no good at high jump, long jump, pole vault etc. My talent was in running so I stuck with it. Our Coach was a bit apprehensive about the flop, but he was willing to let them try. He was a very good coach and we had one of the best track and field teams in the state. He had us using innovative training techniques that many of the top colleges in the country were using. I think his willingness to lets us try new ways of improving performance was key to our success. Fosburys Flop was an element of that success.

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