Unlike the scissors or flop style of jump, where the jumper approaches the bar so as to take off from the outer foot, the straddle jumper approaches from the opposite side, so as to take off from the inner foot. In this respect the straddle resembles the western roll. However, in the western roll the jumper's side or back faces the bar; in the straddle the jumper crosses the bar face down, with legs straddling it. With this clearance position, the straddle has a mechanical advantage over the western roll, since it is possible to clear a bar that is higher relative to the jumper's center of gravity.
There were two variants of the straddle: the parallel straddle and a more diving version. With the parallel straddle, head and trunk passed the bar at the same time; Charles Dumas, the first high jumper to clear 7 ft, and John Thomas (silver medal at the 1964 Olympics) used this technique. Valeriy Brumel (gold in 1964) dove a little bit, his head going over the bar before his trunk.
The last world record jump with the straddle technique was Vladimir Yashchenko's 2.34 m (7 ft 8 in) in 1978. (His best result was 2.35 m (7 ft 8½ in) obtained in Milan at the 1978 European Athletics Indoor Championships). That was improved upon in 1980 by a flopper, Jacek Wszola of Poland.
There is some debate over which of the two techniques is more efficient in clearing of the bar. Although both have advantages and disadvantages, the Fosbury flop is considered by many easier to learn, especially for younger jumpers, and thus has become the dominant technique.
In 1993, an American high jumper Steve Harkins brought back the Straddle style in the Master's [over-40] division to break the Master's World Record and then went on to beat a 'flopper' at the World Championships in Miyazaki Japan. Harkins used the 'head down first' style as did Brumel. At 6'71⁄4" at the U.S. National Championships in Bozeman, Montana; in March 1993, Harkins will be remembered as the highest jumper ever in the Master's to have used the straddle style. In Steve's prime at the US Naval Academy [1969 - 1973], he was a 7' straddle style jumper.
These were western roll jumpers who held the world record before the straddle era.
- "ATLETICA - Le specialita: i salti". treccani.it. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Vladimir Yashchenko (part 1) - Last King of the straddle technique". youtube.com. Retrieved 28 october 2012.
- "Jacek Wszoła - Biography". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 28 october 2012.
- "Dick Fosbury - Biography". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 28 october 2012.