The Wizard of Foz – Dick Fosbury’s One-Man High Jump Revolution

You can learn a lot from athletes’ biographies, especially from someone who innovated like Fosbury did. There are many lessons to be learned from his new book The Wizard of Foz: Dick Fosbury’s One-Man High-Jump Revolution, both about sport and life through the chronicles of his rise to Olympic Champion and beyond.

It is well framed in the context of growing up in the fifties and coming of age in the turbulent sixties. Fosbury developed his technique without coaching and in many ways in spite of coaching. This is a little pearl I go from the book regarding Fosbury’s in competition mental approach in preparation for a jump:

  • “First, the corrective. Fosbury would think: What if anything needs fixing from my previous jump? Often, for example, it was a reminder not to drift into the bar and instead, to jump vertically, not horizontally.” (P. 123)
  • “Second, the connective. Once he’d determined what needed to be fixed on this coming jump, he would connect the action to the particular part of the body responsible for making that happen, to feel it. To think that thought – more pronounced arch, for example – would help the body rehearse, or memorize, what it needed to do.” (P. 123)
  • “And, finally, the disconnective. In the final few seconds before the jump, he wanted nothing more on his mind regarding the past. All of his energy needed to feed his now. “I never started forward on my approach,” he said, until was absolutely convinced I was going over the bar.” (P. 124)

Enjoy the book it is an entertaining and informative read that brought back many memories from a bygone era in track and field.

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